Feeling Stuck? Focus on a Single Sentence

Recently, I learned a trick for falling asleep when conditions are not ideal for rest. (I promise this has relevancy for writing, stick with me.)

Starting with closed eyes, relax the eyes. Feel them deepening into your sockets. Then let go of any tension in your face.

Move on to another part of the body. (I like to start with the feet.) Focus on the muscle group, release it. 

I never make it past the feet; by then I’m asleep. If I’m not asleep, I’ve allowed my mind to wander onto something else.

Why this works for me: I stop thinking about trying to sleep, and focus my attention on a single thing.

Focusing on the smallest thing you can accomplish: this is my magic trick to making progress or getting unstuck.

In this month’s Glimmer Train bulletin, fiction writer Jane Delury says that when she’s overwhelmed with her novel draft, she goes to her bookshelf, opens a book she loves, and finds a sentence she’s underlined. She writes:

It’s easy to forget about sentences. They don’t call out for our attention like plot or character. They rarely get chapters in how-to books about fiction. But without them, there’s no plot or character, no story at all. … So for now, instead of going back to fix a scene or make a stretch of dialogue more interesting, I suggest that you set yourself the goal of writing a perfect sentence.

Read Delury’s essay Go Small to Go Big.

Also in this month’s Glimmer Train bulletin:

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