Friday, December 30, 2016


Images by Bill Slavin

Have you ever had one of those moments when you are in the spotlight? You say something, then later you remember all the really pithy ideas you could have expressed? Don't you sound brilliant in your own mind?

That's why I started writing: to get those brilliant thoughts out of my head that I never uttered out loud. Writing them down at any time (they often got me out of bed at night) worked. By writing my ideas down, eventually I gained the confidence to speak my mind more completely when I had the chance.

I was a speaker in a Writers' Panel recently. Someone asked us a question. She said that she had an idea for a story. She could write scenes, but was stuck on how to move forward with the story so that she could complete her imagined 350-page novel.

Another panelist, an editor and writing coach, suggested that she focus on developing her characters. If she had an antagonist, write about that character. Put the character in scenes with other characters and see how they reacted to each other. She had several other good ideas to rekindle the writing process.

Later I realized that this want-to-be-novelist was stuck in a way that many of my writer friends get stuck. Writing a novel can be daunting when you think of the complete book in its final form. Just as my writing coach friend suggested, these writers had to stop thinking 'novel' and had to break their ideas down into many parts.

Here is what I could have said:

You have more than one story to write.
If you are stuck, put what you are writing aside.
Write something else: poetry, memoirs, or personal essays.
Go back to the original piece and add another scene.
Just don't stop writing.

You may find that you never complete that novel.
You may find joy in writing in other directions.
You may find by doing the practice of writing daily, step by step,
that you have more than enough to complete your story.
You may find instead that your first writings become a gateway
into what your mind really wants to write.

Just keep writing.

To help you along, check out these two writing coaches:

Elizabeth Fishel,

B. Lynn Goodwin,

or join Story Circle Network, an online women's writing network:

To see more of Bill's photos, see him @slavinbill on Instagram

At the end of 2016, I want to thank all my readers of Postcards in the Air.  You keep me going!


  1. I would rather write to others than have actual conversations. Writing gives me time to organize my thoughts, expand them and edit out what is best left unsaid. Sadly, the rest of the world doesn't agree and we stumble through conversations and what comes after when we wish we had said this or that.

    Writing prompts are great for those of us commented to writing blogs.

    1. Jean, I think we alike. Writing gives me time to gather my thoughts, beliefs, and my imagination. You are so right about the value of writing. Keep writing!

  2. It's such a pleasure to read and visually enjoy each of your posts. You have created a varied and interesting life. Thank you for sharing your many talents. Mary Ann.

    1. Mary Ann, thank you for reading my blog. I love to hear your reactions to each post. Thanks!

  3. That photo of Bill's is an optical illusion! Took me forever to get it in place. Wonderful! Good ideas, of course.

    1. Thank you, Linda. I pass on your message to Bill.

  4. Those are wise words for writers, Martha, and thanks for the shout-out to the Wednesday Writers' groups of which you are a cherished member!
    Happy 2017!

    1. I owe a lot to you, Elizabeth. And thank you for reading my blog posts. That means a lot. Happy 2017 back.

  5. Excellent post and advice. You were amazingly articulate at the writers panel. I was so impressed.

    1. Thank you, Jan. Speaking in front of a group reminds me of cooking for a large group. I can't tell how things taste like I normally can! Your opinion means a lot to me!

  6. Testing. Testing. My comments aren't posting. I will just keep writing...and having long as I can.

  7. Jan Hersh is now commented with a wordpress persona rather than a google+ persona....maybe that will work..?


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