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Getting Over the Hump

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Photo by IQRemix [1]

There’s a carnival game I love called Roller Bowler. The objective is to propel a bowling ball over a hump on a metal track. Sounds simple, but it’s not so easy. Too little force, and you won’t make it over the hump in the first place. Too much force, and the ball will go racing over the hump, rebound against the rear wall, and come hurtling right back at you. Either way, you lose.

Daily writing sessions are like Roller Bowler for me. If I don’t bully myself a little bit, I can easily waste the day running errands, surfing the internet, or even cleaning the house. But if I push myself too hard, I can end up sucking all the joy out of my follow-your-passion pursuit. For me personally, that kind of negative energy creates an even bigger obstacle than regular old distractability.

But if I apply just the right amount of pressure, that’s when the magic is unlocked. Like a Roller Bowler ball settling into the valley of its track, I find myself comfortably in the zone. The minutes pass by without my even noticing. My fingers fly, and my words fill the page with tension, imagery, and snappy dialogue. I’ve won the game.

Again, sounds simple, but it’s not so easy. How do you find that balance between too much force and not enough?

I think for most people — myself included — starting is the hardest part. The blank page can be intimidating, whereas watching Netflix or scrolling through Facebook is practically effortless. But they are also less rewarding.

Here are a few tricks I use to get myself over that initial hump:

Working in tandem with that, these are the strategies I use to stop myself from hitting the wall:

These things might sound basic, especially to Writer Unboxed regulars. But it’s so easy to lose sight of them when we’re busy eying agents and book deals and movie news and Franzendrama and Amazonageddon and whatever else is going on in the publishing world. Sometimes we just need a reminder or two to help bring us back to center.

How do you get yourself over the hump? And how do you stop yourself from hitting the wall?

About Kristan Hoffman [6]

Originally from Houston, TX, Kristan Hoffman [7] studied creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University and later attended the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. Now she lives with her family in Cincinnati, OH, where she writes both fiction and nonfiction with a focus on feminist, multicultural stories. Her words have appeared in the New York Times, Switchback, and the Citron Review, among others. She is currently at work on a Young Adult novel, and is represented by Tina Dubois of ICM. For more, please visit her website [8].