Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Little Jumpstart -- Robin

I’ve been trying to get back into the edits on my middle grade book, The Happiness Project, but it’s hard to let something sit for a while and then pick it up cold. Whenever I open the manuscript, I stare at the screen, unable to make changes…fearful any word I write will ruin it forever. So I’ve been doing a lot of staring lately.

I had this problem once before when I was trying to make edits on my first middle grade book, Dude, Where’s My Locker? The manuscript had been in the hands of an editor for a while, and when I tried to make the changes she had suggested, I totally froze. I couldn’t write a word! For some reason, I wasn’t able to get into the character’s voice, couldn’t figure out what he’d do next, couldn’t put him in dangerous situations because I didn’t know how he’d react.

So to break myself out of my writer’s block, I started writing a fake sequel to the book. I knew it wasn’t really going to get published, so I felt free to explore situations and play around with the character’s voice. Usually I wrote short stories, kind of like blog posts, and I was finally able to “hear” my character’s voice again. The title of my fake sequel? Dude, What’s That Smell? I wrote a lot of scenes about the lunchroom. Of course it will never get published…and that’s what made all the difference. It allowed me to warm-up until I was ready to get back to the real deal.

So I may need to take this approach again with The Happiness Project. Which means I need a fake title to my fake sequel. How about…

The Somewhat-Depressed-Sure-Could-Use-A-Reese’s Project


The Frustrated-By-People-Who-Don’t-Use-Blinkers Project


The I-Have-To-Admit-I-Have-A-Crush-On-Anderson-Cooper Project

Any other suggestions?

- Robin


Katie said...

HAHA - that is actually a genius idea Robin! I have that problem sometimes too. It's why I write ADD. I generally can't write where I apparently need to, so I will pick some random spot 3/4 of the way in and write those "fake scenes."

Kinda the same. Sorta?


Disco Mermaids said...


I'm with you...cannot stand people who don't use blinkers (cuz I'm an OCD blinker freak) and I'm not ashamed to admit I LOVE Anderson Cooper too. So, I'd go with one of those titles fo' sho'.

P.S. I'd love to read "Dude, What's That Smell?"
Totally genius!


Patti said...

I think you should use the title "The Somewhat Depressed..."

But... I definitely have a crush on Anderson Cooper too... so maybe you should use that one.

Ali said...

Print it out and do the edits in pencil on a hardcopy? That's what works for me when it comes to major editing.

Kelly Fineman said...

I, too, have a crush on Anderson Cooper. Also on Brian Williams. Hot news guys evidently do it for me.

Fake sequel name:

"Happiness Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be." Maybe?

Wild About Words said...


If you save your draft, you can feel confident that even if you totally mess up, you still have the original.

I often start the revision process with baby steps -- changing a word here and there for awhile -- until I fool myself into immersing myself in the project again and addressing the larger issues.

Good luck!

Disco Mermaids said...

Oh Kelly, I hear ya. Brian Williams works for me too. Journalism is so hot!!! (Good thing my hubby is a photojournalist.)

And Donna, I love that idea. Just take baby steps and then take on the larger issues.


Suzanne Young said...

The Happiness Project 2? Kidding.
Let's see:

Depression 101 - The Aftereffect of the Happiness Project

These Pills Make Me Groggy Project

Stickers are Out - The Happiness Project 2

Happiness is a Fad

The Fashion Project (cuz let's face it, I need help)

and finally,

The Writing Project - The Presently Untitled The Happiness Project Sequel.


Disco Mermaids said...

Ha! Good ones, Suzanne. I don't think I'm capable of writing The Fashion Project. Cuz I'm wearing three different shades of the color grey today. Not so cute. :-(


Shelli said...

Sucj a good idea. they'll probably all get published too

Graeme Stone said...

Mmm, Anderson Cooper....

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