“When I am struggling with writing, I move to a different medium. If I am unproductive at the keyboard, I pick up a pen and a yellow legal pad. The color alone makes me feel like writing. Or I draw a picture. I keep a messy drawing of the whole story of a novel where I can see it while I am working on it. After an agent dumped me because my book Spider in a Tree (Small Beer Press, 2013) had been rejected by more than forty publishers, I started asking dancers and martial artists to teach me how to physically fall. It helped.
To keep writing during the pandemic, I have been using a tool I learned about from answers to a question asked by writer Alexander Chee on social media. Oblique Strategies, is a deck of creative prompts by artist Peter Schmidt and musician Brian Eno. I pull a card once a week. I often take the advice, but sometimes I reject it. Either way, it’s clarifying. I use the prompts to resolve arguments with myself long enough to get something onto the page. Lately, my favorite prompt is: ‘Give way to your worst impulse.’”
—Susan Stinson, author of Martha Moody (Small Beer Press, 2020)
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