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Finding What Works Right Now

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The Edwards' Mango
Is it just me? What works right one time, may not work right the next time. Like Sioux and Cathy, I’m looking for life lessons that can be translated into writing lessons. This one came from a mango seed. 

During 2020, I got a wild hair and decided to sprout a mango seed. The boy and I were working our way through numerous mangos so we had the raw material. I looked up how to do it online and found instructions for cutting away the hull and sprouting the seed in a damp paper towel. I removed the hull and discovered our seed already had both a sprout and roots. We planted it in soil which I spritzed daily until the sprout produced leaves. Success! 

The next mango seed molded in the soil. The third had neither a sprout nor roots so we wrapped it in a paper towel, actually following all of the instructions I had found. We then discovered that a seed could mold just as effectively in a paper towel as it could in soil. Clearly what worked right one time in terms of growing a mango plant was not guaranteed to work another. And what worked for someone else multiple times didn’t work for me. 

The same thing often happens when it comes time to write. Renee and I both participated in the Save the Cat Breaking the Beat Sheet blog tour. Renee loved using the scene cards and encouraged me to do the same. After all, I’m really visual. I jumped in and made it scene by scene through the first act. But I bogged down just under half way through Act 2. 

I finally realized that using a poster board to lay things out what too cluttered for me. Cards overlapped. It was visually cluttered. I’m dyslexic and I just couldn’t focus with this mess in front of me. This reality surprised me because me office is something of a disaster. That’s the polite way of saying I’m one crap-alanche away from a clean desk. Whatever.  This system wasn't working. 

I took my poster and my cards and redid it all in a Word document. It is 2 columns and 4 landscape pages so I can’t see it all at once, but it is neat and I can visually scan my scenes with ease. What a relief to find something that works! 

Still, I sometimes I have troubles getting going when I sit down to write. A more experienced novelist suggested that when I near the end of a writing session, I stop without finishing the current 

I hope you could tell that I left off the word "sentence." It looks strange to leave a line hanging like that but I’ve also noticed that I can sit down, read the line and start typing. There’s no hesitation.  I don't know that this would work when I write nonfiction but for fiction, it is the perfect way to jump start my writing session.

When you visit the Muffin, we hope that you read our posts and find techniques that work for you.  If you have to alter them to make them work, let us know what you’ve done. Your method may be what someone else needs to spark the solution that will work right now. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 27 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey.

The next session of her new course, Pitching, Querying and Submitting Your Work will begin on August 2, 2021).  Coping with rejection is one of the topics she will cover in this course.

Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins August 2, 2021) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins  August 2, 2021). 

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