Ask the right question … to get an amazing answer
Today’s blog focuses on life wisdom – how to overcome setbacks using powerful questions. I’m still writing my first novel, and lately, it came to my attention that there are chunks of it that don’t work yet. Some big changes are needed. At first, this seemed overwhelming and I began to ask myself… What if I don’t have what it takes? Why am I SO slow at getting my book done? What if it’s just beyond my ability as a writer?
Of course I couldn’t get this far and then give up. I had to come out of rookie novelist mode and step into coach mode. To coach myself. So I chose to begin by asking powerful questions. Instead of focusing on the parts of the plot and characters that weren’t working I had to ask in the positive. Here’s an example:
Instead of ‘oh dear, the way my main character goes missing doesn’t seem feasible and doesn’t work very well,’ I asked ‘How else might my main character have gone missing?’
By asking a good question, I began reaching for an answer instead of getting overwhelmed and negative. My mind followed the question like it was some exquisite path taking it on some adventure into a magical land of possibilities. And I got a choice of helpful answers that made me want to keep writing and keep working at it. Result.
This type of questioning works across the board, not just for writers but for all things in life, I believe.
Here are some more random examples or powerful questions and their not-so-helpful counterparts:
Q: How could I support myself to eat more healthily? vs. I never have the willpower to eat healthy food.
Q: What else could I try to manage my time more efficiently today? vs. I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do today.
Q: What could I do to feel better around this person? vs. That person is so annoying and it’s their fault I’m feeling irritated.
Q: What’s one thing I could do today to be more environmentally friendly, vs. Climate change is happening and there’s nothing I can do about it.
Hopefully you’ll agree that asking those questions puts you in a more curious and positive mindset. I’m all about mindset in my writing and in most areas of my life. We can literally talk ourselves right out of things as well as right into things. Our thoughts are powerful things. We need to keep weeding out the bad ones and taking good care of the good ones so that they grow.
Try it Yourself
Now it’s your turn, to try a few of your own. If you find this useful, that is. To make a powerful question, remember it will have these traits: it is open-ended; it is curious in nature (think: interested and open-minded); it is clear and not long-winded. If yours is long-winded you might need to split it into more succinct questions.
Thanks for reading
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One Year Anniversary
It’s a year to the day that I created sbrowneauthor.com and the social media platforms for it on Insta, Facebook and Twitter. I wanted to create a site for my author journey and to share also some of those short stories I’ve written that otherwise sit on a lonely hard drive never seeing the light of day after being written for a challenge or being published way back when. Huge thanks to SJS Web Design, Listowel for all their help in making it happen.
It was a way to get ‘out there’ on the web as an author and hopefully upcoming novelist. I wanted to meet other similar minded folks, and connect with a possible future readership. There’s been a lot of learning and still loads to learn.
It’s been a fun year. I got to visit Goa, the place my novel is primarily set in. I have been, twice. But that was years ago. So to go and see it now and especially the places that serve as the backdrops was incredibly useful and a joy as I still really love it there.
Over the last year, I see I have come from 32K to now over the limit 83K. Writing your novel isn’t just about satisfying a word count. There is still a lot to do to get this thing into shape ready to start the querying process. I thought in the past a year would be ample time from start to finish to get a novel done but it’s taken me almost eighteen months so far and I think there are a few months left. It’s been so fun doing this. You know when you are on the right track in life when you are doing what makes your heart sing and you bounce out of bed every morning. Well, okay, most mornings!
That’s not to say it’s been easy. There have been times when I’ve had to question the whole thing. What if I write this and it ends up being a complete load of rubbish? Or nobody will publish it? Or I end up self-publishing and nobody reads it? Lots of self-doubt moments. According to Joanna Penn, this is true of all writers worth their salt. So I’m in good company.
Soon it will be time for a professional edit, then more changes on my part I’m sure. Then more polishing before it’s finally ready.
The books I’ve read this past year to help me on my quest to finish my first novel include:
Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody; How to Write a Novel Using The Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson; Writing Fast by Jeff Bollow; How to Publish Your Book by Jane Friedman; The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan; The Successful Author Mindset by Joanna Penn; Writing Great Fiction by James Hynes; Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer among others I’m likely forgetting. I will likely write another blog some day on my thoughts on these books that help aspiring authors.
I’ve also read many fiction novels and won’t mention them all here.
I’ve entered the NYC Midnight short story challenge again and await results later this week from round one of the challenge. If I make it to the second round I know what I’ll be doing next weekend. I’ve just added one of the NYC Flash Fiction stories I wrote two years ago, check it out in the short stories section.
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Happy writing. Or reading. Or both,