The question that moves my work forward

Fountains, square tower with crenelated edge on top, small palm trees in the foreground, huge one in the back, stone-edged path, green grass and blue sky.
What can you do when everything seems so complicated? Image: English Gardens, Palermo, Sicily. © Laurel Decher, 2016.

What’s the simplest solution?

This is the question that moves me forward when I get stuck. I’m not sure why it helps. Maybe it’s what my friend and writing mentor Susan Graham calls “making a decision.” Friends are a gift.

With this question, I move forward with the information I’ve already got. Information gathering stops. I try something out.

Do you have a question that helps you move forward when you get stuck? Share it in the comments below.


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Laurel Decher

LAUREL DECHER writes stories about all things Italian, vegetable, or musical. Beloved pets of the past include "Stretchy the Leech" and a guinea pig that unexpectedly produced twins. She's famous for a nonexistent sense of direction, but carries maps because people always ask her for directions. When she's not lost, she can be found on Twitter and on her blog, This Is An Overseas Post, where she writes about life with her family in Germany. She's still a Vermonter and an epidemiologist at heart. PSA: Eat more kale! :) Her short fiction for adults, UNFORESEEN TIMES, originally appeared in _Windhover_. Photo: © Jane Joo Park, 2017.

6 thoughts on “The question that moves my work forward”

  1. I love this advice. That’s just what I did this summer when stuck on my current WIP. For some reason, first person felt like the easiest way forward, so I’m going with that. I feel a little like I’m cheating (isn’t writing supposed to be hard?), but I figure as long as I’m getting words on the page, I should just keep going.

    1. Susan, Your question surprised me because I’m sure you’ve even helped me find the “simplest” answer more than once. 🙂 There was an example in The Wounded Book about why Mamma went to Constantinople and what Bella knew about it. In an earlier version, Bella didn’t know why. You suggested that Mamma tell Bella why she was going. Voila–simplest solution! Seems so obviously superior after the fact, but I made myself miserable beforehand trying to figure out how to write it. Now I’m curious–doesn’t this happen this way to you? Do you have a different way of “cutting to the chase?”

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