It’s My Birthday Soon–And I’m Giving Away Presents!

Photo by Stephanie McCabe on Unsplash

This Tuesday is my birthday. No, I won’t tell you how old I am going to be. Suffice it to say I don’t feel as old as I am. And, because it is my birthday, I’m giving you presents!

Here’s the deal. It is hot here in Portland at the moment (98 degrees) and I hate the heat. I think it melts my brain, making it difficult to think, let alone write. (And I just read on my app that the heat wave will continue through Tuesday! Ack!)

So, I was going to write a blog post about tracking time (like years) and other things, as it relates to writing, but I don’t have it in me. And then I remembered (told you the heat melts my brain) that I just posted one on Medium. I’ve been trying to post a lot there, both new and revitalized older posts. So, here’s the one about tracking words and time.

And, besides, what you really wanted was to get to the presents anyway, right? Right. So here you go.

Photo by Audrey Fretz on Unsplash

Present #1: A copy of a book I wrote a few years ago called Set the Words Free: Ideas, Advice and Guidance for Smashing Writer’s Block.  It’s a 42-page PDF full of info and prompts about how to write regularly. If you’d like a copy just hit reply and let me know. I’ll send it to you straight away.

Present #2: I’m offering a steep discount on coaching sessions. You can nab one hour of my time for $64. (There’s significance to that number but I’ll let you guess what it is.) And you can buy several. Or just one. Usually I charge a lot more than this, but I’m feeling magnanimous.  If you want to take advantage of this deal, again, email me,  and we’ll get it all set up. But do it by  midnight on July 17, because the deal expires then.

Each session includes a 30-minute phone call (or Skype, or Zoom), and reading up to 10 pages of work. If you don’t want to discuss work, I can help you get your writing mojo going (or get it back), or we can discuss creativity, productivity, publishing, how to prep for a novel, really anything related to writing and the writing life. You can use them now, or you can buy them now and use them later. (Be aware I’m in France all of September.)

And that’s it, that’s all I’ve got. Now I’m heading back to sit in front of the air conditioning unit (we only have the window kind). Hope it is cool where you are.

Oh, and by the way:

 –We have a couple last minute spots open for France. It is not too late to buy plane tickets—prices have been holding steady for awhile now.  A week in France, devoted to camaraderie, hiking, sitting by the Mediterranean, eating delicious fish and bread and cheese and drinking wine? Plus a transformational writing experience? Yes, please.

–Join the Facebook group.  Participating in groups is the only way I like to be on Facebook and this one is good. It goes quiet periodically, but then it perks up again. I try to post something of interest every day (or at least every few days). Do join us!

 

 

When You Can’t Write (A Love Letter)

A client/friend emailed me. (Hi, Shari). Due to things happening in life, as they do, she hasn’t been able to write for a while.  And this got me thinking—shit happens. And sometimes you find yourself without a single second, or a free brain cell, to write.

Maybe you just had a baby, or a death in the family. Maybe you moved from one city to another, or changed jobs, or had surgery, or have an illness. Maybe you are planning a wedding or an around-the-world journey. It could be anything, good or bad. But the fact remains that you’re in a spot when you just can’t write.

It happens to all of us at one time or another. It is not fun to endure such a fallow time, but think of it this way—you’re giving your creative brain a rest and when you do get back to your writing, you’re going to be able to look at it with fresh eyes. And in the meantime, here are some things that might help:

Don’t beat yourself up. It happens to all of us. I repeat, it happens to all of us. It is not personal, it is just life. The worst thing you can do is berate yourself about it. So don’t.

 Remember that this too shall pass. Writing is your passion and you’ll return to it as soon as you can.  There will come a moment when the brain fog or the schedule clears and you’ll get back to it. I promise.

Don’t let the bastards get you down. This is for those of you who have been walloped hard by rejection. I remember  A friend told me about a time when she got rejected by a publisher and couldn’t write for six months. Remember, this is a subjective business. If you’re not writing because a rejection shook your confidence, you’ve let them win. Don’t!

Stay positive. I was driving earlier this week and saw this hand-written sign tacked on a telephone pole. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. It will not do you any good at all to think about what a lout you are for not writing. Instead, tell yourself repeatedly, and I do mean repeatedly, that you’ll get back to it soon and it will be there waiting for you when you do.

Keep your hand in any way you can.  Take notes when you have an idea or think of something germane to your WIP. Read writing blogs (ahem), or magazines, or books.

Those are simple things that have helped me when I’m in a fallow period because of life happenings. Do you have any to recommend? Leave a comment and let me know.

I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that there are still a couple of spots left for the France writing workshop. One of my all-time most favorite things is France. I got to spend the whole month of March there, and I’ll be returning again in September, this time to the beautiful village of Collioure. Think sun, sea, vibrant Catalan colors, heavenly fish, wonderful wine, great hiking, fun shops and cafes, daring commandos training…and oh yeah, writing! Lots of it! Get inspired—come with. Click here for more info, or reply to this email and I’ll tell you all about it.

 

Confessions of a Reforming Writing Pantser

Nearly all my writing life I’ve considered myself a planner. But for the last two books I’ve written, apparently I’ve been pantsing like crazy.  And it hasn’t worked all that well.

I will share my sad story, but first some definitions for those of you who might not know:

Pantsers write by the seat of their pants. No planning, they just have at it and see where the story takes them. They don’t want to be constrained by an outline or any preconceived notions.

Planners plan everything out ahead of time. They write up character dossiers, figure out the plot according to one of many different theories of story and don’t leave anything to chance.

And for years, I’ve been a planner. There are few things I like better than filling out character dossiers.  There’s so much possibility in it! I’m creating a brand-new character and getting ready to put her into action–much like God.

I’m also a story wonk. I love reading about various types of story structures, from the three-act framework to the Hero’s Journey and I’ve studied these in depth.

I also adore figuring out settings–big and little. I love pondering where the character lives and works, what his house looks like and where she hangs out.

These all fall firmly into the planning category, in case you hadn’t noticed.

So why have I abandoned these supports for my last two books? I think because I got enamored of the idea of writing fast. I have a lot of stories in me and I want to get them out into the world. Writing fast is the best way to do that.

But I’m coming up on the limitations of it, or at least the way I did it the last two times, because I know there’s a third way I’ll detail in a minute. But first, my sad story.

I finished the rewrite for my agent last week and sent it off. And, determined to actually finish another project, I unearthed a novel I wrote a couple years ago.  I started it when in France, and for that reason alone I’ve always been fond of it. But I also love my main character–a globe-trotting journalist who loses her career and her relationship pretty much in one fell swoop. However, I knew the book had big plot problems.

So I started reading it earlier this week. Yup, plot problems. For the first 75 pages I was convinced they were insurmountable. And so I did what I always do–made my life much more complicated by deciding that this story could be split in two. New characters and settings appeared in my head! Excitement abounded! Because I am an excellent starter (and a lousy finisher in case you hadn’t guessed). I took notes and wrote with excitement.

First, though, I told myself I had to finish reading the manuscript. And, somewhere around page 100, a funny thing happened. I fell in love with the story.  Realized I didn’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water and reconstruct it–and write a whole other novel with some of the characters. I had plenty of good stuff to work with. Plot problems, yes, but a host of fun characters and some interesting themes.

So I’m going to rewrite it as is. First, though, I’m going to do some serious prep work, writing material to help me understand my characters and figure out a plot that will support the story.

And this is how I’m proceeding from here on out:

-Do all the prep work.  Write character dossiers and dig deep into their motivations.  Create memorable settings. And most of all, figure out the damn story ahead of time!

–Write fast.  When all the above is done, then it is time to write fast. When you know where you’re going, it is a hell of lot easier to do this. And I shall. And it will all be brilliant. Right? Right.

Part of the way I’m going to prep is to write scenes on cards. I’m currently reading Writing Love, by Alexandra Sokolow and it is helpful in this regard. She bases her ideas of structure on screenplay writing and tells you the exact scenes you need to have in your story. I take things like this with a grain of salt but I at least like it as a starting point. At $2.99 for the Kindle edition, its a cheap reference. Well worth a look.

Photo from Every Stock Photo.

This post contains affiliate links.

Writer, Know Thyself! (A Love Letter)

How well do you know yourself as a writer? Know how to motivate yourself, operate at your most productive, achieve your writing dreams? After all these years of writing about these exact topics I thought I knew myself pretty well.

Turns out that’s not true.

I’m taking a class called Write Better, Write Faster, about which I’ve already written. The whole point of it is to figure out how your brain works and thus how you can best put it to work. So far I’ve learned:

–I’m very externally motivated. Duh. I’ve always known I was deadline-oriented. And that if I make a commitment, I’ll follow through on it no matter what it takes. But I never extrapolated that to a bigger picture, or, um, to writing fiction. Class teacher Becca gently informed me that I need an accountability buddy for my writing. Something I have for my business, but not my writing. If I’m honest, its because I don’t place the same importance on my fiction because—baboom—its not a huge money maker.

–I need systems. I’m the loosiest, goosiest human on the planet.  Read this if you don’t believe me.  I need a system for editing, for instance, because otherwise I’ll get distracted and keep going back to the beginning, never getting anywhere. I have a great, never fail system for rewriting. I used to have a system for prepping for the novel, but I strayed from it—hence the multiple torturous rewrites of my most recent novel.

I share all this in case any of it resonates.  And to encourage you to learn all you can about yourself and your own writing style.  You can start by taking a watered-down version of the Meyers-Briggs test here.  We had a lot of fun with this on the Facebook group this week.

Any thoughts on how well you know or don’t know yourself as a writer? Leave a reply!

This post originally appeared in my newsletter. If you’d like to receive it directly into your inbox every Sunday morning, plus get first notification of events and books, sign up in the box to the right.

On Motivation (In Your Characters and Yourself)

Last Saturday, I co-lead a workshop on motivation. 

We chose this topic because while I was in France, I realized that the motivation of my protagonist was weak. Very weak. And damned if that didn’t affect the whole plot, making it saggy in places and utterly not logical in others. Neither of which are good for creating stories that work.

We talked mostly about motivating our characters so that plots don’t sag. But we also talked some about what motivates us as writers and how, once we’ve found that motivation, we can keep tapping into it. I’ll get to that in a minute.

But first I wanted to share a couple of take-aways from the afternoon and a terrific list of motivations we came up with. A few take-aways:

–Motivation can come in layers. You think you have it nailed, and then you realize you need to go deeper. (Thank you, Jenni, for putting this into words. I was dancing around it.)

–There’s two kinds of motivation, external and internal. Think of external motivation as what the character wants (something can cause this, too); and internal as why she wants it.

–A good way to uncover your character’s motivation is to ask why. And keep asking why. This will lead you deeper and deeper.

And now, the list of motivations:

Avoid confrontation

Get out of an abusive marriage

Escape

Find the truth

Money

Fame

Power

Control

Fears

Family Duty

Grief (processing it)

Scientific discovery

Seeking knowledge

Self acutalization

Adventure or thrill seeking

Sex

Love

Avoiding death

Recovery from an illness

Presenting a facade to the world

Survival

Jealousy

Atonement

Creative urge

Mastery

As you can see, this is quite the list! I plan to save it somewhere I’ll have access to it and make additional notes on it. Because, trust me, you will save yourself time and misery if you figure out your character’s motivations ahead of time!

And now, the all-important question–what motivates you to write? That is something only you can answer, but after listening to the group members share their reasons, I can tell you it’s a good thing to ponder.  Ask yourself that question and write about it in your journal. You might be surprised with what comes up!

The other topic that came up often in France was arc. As in, what is it and why do I need it? So that’s the subject of our next workshop in Portland on May 19th. There’s still a couple spaces left if you’re interested. All the details are here. 

What motivates you as a writer? Care to share? Or tell us about your character’s motivation? Leave a comment! Or come on over to the Facebook group and discuss.

Write It Imperfectly, Do It Imperfectly

I was meditating this morning. My legs twitched. I was antsy in my seat. My eyebrow itched and finally I succumbed and scratched it. My back tingled. All these things took my attention away from my mantra–Hum Sah.   And then I started thinking about emails I needed to write and work I had to complete.

I was meditating imperfectly. VERY imperfectly. But, I consoled myself, at least I was doing it. Meditating imperfectly is better than not meditating at all. So, too, with exercise, right? And cooking, and gardening. And–you knew it was coming–writing.

It is important to let yourself write imperfectly. You know this. I know this. But do we remember it when we are writing? Do we let our fingers race across the keyboard, not worrying about how “good” the words are? Or do we stop and obsess about what should come next? What sounds right. What our readers, or agent, or editor will think when they read it?

I do that far too often. Hmm, let me think–maybe I even did it this morning when I convinced myself that one aspect of my character’s backstory had to be figured out in excruciating detail before I could go any farther. When I stepped away from the computer, I realized that wasn’t true at all.  I just needed to write it imperfectly–and then come back and fix it later.

Your job as a writer is to put words on the page. Period. They don’t have to be perfect words. They don’t even have to be good.  The only requirement is that the words come out of your head, through your fingers, and onto the page. Period.

Simple, right? And oh so hard. Just remember–imperfection is your friend. Put it on a post-it next to your computer: IMPERFECTION IS YOUR FRIEND. And remember this in the rest of your life as well.

Let me know how that works out for you, will you? Leave a comment!

On Story Questions and Traveling Home

After a month-long writing retreat in France, I am home! The trip back was even more chaotic than the journey there, but we made it. So here I am at home in Portland, smack in the middle of chaos.  While I was gone, my daughter and her family moved in (that includes two small boys). We are putting on an addition to make room for everyone to live together but until that happens we are all crammed in together. Boxes are piled everywhere. Their dog terrorizes our cats, who spend most of their time down the basement now. My computer sits atop a table covered with paper and markers.

And in the midst of all this, I am pondering story questions. Allow me to elaborate. I’m reading Still Me, the third book in the series about Louisa Clark by Jojo Moyes. I’m not that far in and I’m enjoying it immensely. Louisa is a charming character who does funny things and dresses outlandishly. But I bought the book on the strength of having read the first two, and I don’t know that much about it. Since I hurriedly downloaded it for my Kindle before I left, I haven’t read the front flap or back cover copy. Usually that would give me a clue.

This morning I realized that I have no idea what the book’s story question is, based on my reading so far.  What do I mean when I say story question? I define it as the motor that keeps the reader turning pages, because she wants an answer to that question. She wants to know what will happen.

In a way, it’s the point of a book. In a romance, the story question is, will the woman get her man (or vice-versa)? In a mystery, it is, who is the killer? In a thriller, the story question is, will the protagonist escape/outwit/best the villain?  Of course, in genre fiction, we pretty much know what the answer will be, but the question is always in our mind as we read.

And here’s a real-life explanation. Earlier this week, as I made my way home from France, all kinds of snafus occurred, as mentioned above.  After leaving our small town in the south, Debbie and I planned to spend three nights in Lyon, then take a train early Tuesday morning directly to Charles De Gaulle airport and connect with our noon flight.  But Tuesday happened to be the first day of a planned nation-wide rail strike, and we were advised to take an earlier train. Which meant leaving a day early, finding a hotel to stay at in Paris, and several trips to the train station to see about changing our tickets to Monday.

Turned out exchanging tickets was not so easy.  The bored clerk offered us only the opportunity to spend 273 Euros each for standing room only on a train that might or might not actually depart.  And so, because we had to make that flight, we rented a car and drove to Paris.

If you were writing about this adventure, the story question would be, will they make their flight? Will they ever get back home? Believe me, there were many times this was in doubt. One way to look at it is the simplest construct in all writing. Our goal/desire was to make it to the airport. All the snafus were the obstacles in the way that made the question arise: will they make it?

So back to Still Me. 

The story is about Louisa’s year in New York City, working as a companion for a very wealthy family. The story begins as she arrives in the states from the UK.  The idea is that she’s spreading her wings and trying new things in homage to her late employer/boyfriend, Will Traynor, who we met in the first book.

So at first I thought maybe the story question would center around her employment. But no, at least not entirely. There are some quirks there, but that doesn’t seem to be it. So maybe there’s drama in what she left behind in England? No, her family seems happy and she has a new boyfriend she loves with home she Skypes often. In my reading session last night, a new character was introduced, a man who reminds Louisa of her beloved Will. I suspect he has a lot to do with the story question. Will Louisa develop a relationship with him? Will she then stay in New York or go back to England? What is her true place in life?

Me not knowing the story question has not put me off this particular book. I trust this author and I love the characters she develops. But if I were reading a book by an unknown author not quite as adept at craft, I may have been tempted to set it aside.

Readers these days more and more often won’t have front flap or back cover copy to guide them–only description on a website, a sample from Kindle, or a “look inside the book” preview. So I think it behooves us to be aware of our story questions and make them clear from the beginning.

Of course, that assumes that we know the story question. Which can be difficult! But that is a topic for another time…..

Have you ever read a book where you were confused about the story question? Leave a comment or head on over to the Facebook page to discuss.

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Planes and Trains and Bomb Cyclones

Check out that blue sky

I am in France. In Ceret, a small town in the Languedoc region, to be exact.  I am here on a writing retreat and this morning, I’ve hit my goal of 2,000 words (a little over, actually), wandered around the town, then drove to the seaside village of Collioure to buy Soupe de Poisson. (Fish soup, which is served here with a special aioli, croutons, and grated parmesan.) The Mediterranean was a deep blue in the sunshine and on the way back the mountain nearest to our town was socked in with snow! This is exactly how I wanted this writing retreat to go when we first started talking about doing it: a lot of writing, sinking into the rhythms of the town, visiting a few nearby spots, drinking the excellent local wine each night. But mostly, writing like crazy.

It was a looong journey to get here, however.  We had booked our flight through San Francisco to Paris for Wednesday. But when we arrived at the airport that morning, we were told we had a delay due to weather. A delay that would cause us to miss our connection to Paris.  We could maybe go the next day. But that would cause us to miss our train on Saturday morning in Paris. So we were rerouted on a flight early the next morning that went through Newark.

Yep, Newark. Where a bomb cyclone was about to hit. Which we didn’t find out until we got home from the airport.

My living room for the next month

And, this caused us to forfeit our one night in Paris. But oh well. The point was to get to Ceret and start writing.  Despite dire weather reports, we were loaded onto our Newark plane at an ungodly hour.  Since I had taken the very cheap ($29) upgrade offer on the SF plane, I squawked loudly enough as they rebooked us that I got a window seat in the aisle row. There was nobody in the middle seat–maybe they were scared off by the bomb cyclone–and it was luxurious. I had so much room I felt like I was in first class.

And then the pilot came on the intercom and informed us that the weather in Newark looked bad. Dire, even. Winds higher than what that very lovely aircraft was rated for. So we probably wouldn’t be able to land there.  Maybe we’d go to Cleveland. Maybe we’d go somewhere else. Who knew? He said if we made it as far as Pittsburgh, we’d be going in.

Usually I’m an anxious traveler. I’m not afraid of flying but I get edgy about logistics–making connections and all that. And I am a person who likes to know what is coming my way.  (Which is why meditation is so good for me.) I like to know what we’re having for dinner so I can plan my lunch accordingly. I like to know what is going to happen in my book, at least until my characters start doing unexpected things.

But this time was different. I had my perfect window seat and a view of the mostly snow-covered landscape below. I was happily reading the second Maisie Dobbs book and I was comfortable. And so I reached this wonderful place where I just shrugged my shoulders and quit worrying about what might happen. Cleveland? Pittsburgh? Paris? Who knew?

A few hours in, the pilot came on again and said the winds had subsided enough that they were going to “try” to land. My seatmate and I looked at each other and said, “Try? That doesn’t sound too confident.” The pilot warned us over and over again that the landing would be rough.  He would need to use his automatic brakes and it would be “firm.” Also, we would experience much turbulence as we landed. That we did, though I’ve been in worse. But–the landing was perfect. Firm, indeed, but perfect. Everybody in the plane applauded.

While I’m not an expert, the Newark airport seemed far less busier than usual, probably because more than half the flights were canceled. I kept waiting for a text message from United telling me our flight had suffered the same fate. But no! After several hours, we boarded.  Alas, we then sat on the runway in a driving snowstorm for two hours while we got de-iced (the machines looked like giant lit-up bugs) and also, I learned later, waited for the winds to subside to a level the plane was rated for the plane.

But we took off, eventually, and made it to Paris, albeit several hours late, thus missing our train.  We made it, though, and here I am, happily writing and strolling around the town for breaks. When first we conceived this writing retreat, it felt like a whole month was going to be the most luxurious stretch of time ever. And it is (especially because my family is dealing with the chaos of remodeling at home).  But time is going fast, too! Slipping away. I vow to make the most of every minute.

How about you? Have you ever taken a writing retreat, short or long? Leave a comment or come over to the Facebook group and discuss.

(You can also follow me on Instagram for lots more photos.)

Rewriting: Draft Passes (A Helpful Writing Tip)

The passing lane. Like a draft pass. Right?

Ah, rewriting. So fun! So engaging! So intense! I’m serious, I actually really like it. But it can also be mind-boggling.  Where to begin? How to approach it? What to do?

One concept that may be useful to you is that of draft passes.  I’ve done this myself and recommended it to others, but I’ve never had a tricky name for it until now. And for that, I thank Rachael Herron, who mentions it in her new (and highly recommended) book,  Fast Draft Your Memoir: Write Your Life.  

A draft pass is when you go through your manuscript looking for one specific thing and that thing only.  For instance, you might want to track the throughline of a subplot.  Or check that the description of a character is consistent throughout.  Or look at and vary how you note character movements. (I tend to have all my characters shrug, nod, and blow out long streams of breath, for instance.)

Isolating this one thing makes it easier to track it in the morass of pages that constitute a novel.  Draft passes work best after the bulk of your rewriting is done and you’re finished with the big story questions.  For instance, I just got notes from my agent on the rewrite of my romance novel. One thing I need to do a draft pass on is my two main characters thinking how attractive they each find the other.  There’s way too much of it, and readers need to see it rather than have it told to them. Another draft pass will be devoted to heightening the main character’s motivation for not allowing herself to be swept off her feet by the hero.

I liken the process of draft passes to gently pulling pages of the manuscript apart and dropping a few pithy new words on sentences or even a scene in.   You can use the search feature to help you find what you need, or, hopefully somewhere you have a list of scenes that will guide you.  (If you don’t, I recommend you create one immediately!) And I’m sure those of you who use Scrivener have all kinds of cool ways to track things that I’m not aware of.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, Janice Hardy had an excellent article on the difference between revision, rewriting, and redrafting on her blog this week. Check it out.

Have you ever done draft passes? Leave a comment or come over to the Facebook page and discuss.

P.S.–this post contains one teeny, tiny affiliate link.

Indecision is the Devil for Writers

Indecision is my downfall.

If I know where I’m going next in my writing, it is no problem to sit down to my computer and get words on the page.  I can wrack up a good word count in no time.

But if I’m not quite sure what to write next, forget about it.  My brain gets fuzzy. I can’t seem to connect with my work. I don’t know what to do next and so more often than not I don’t do anything.

This goes for my to-do list as well.  Sometimes it gets so overwhelming that I just stare at it–and then go look for an interesting knitting blog to read.  Or, better yet, a writing blog, because then I can pretend I am working!

So lately my process with my to-do list has been to make a decision on what needs to happen next.  In today’s case, it was writing this blog post. And then I just focus on that until it is finished and I can move on to the next thing.  Here’s the key: if other things crowd my brain for attention, as they do, I remind my brain what I’ve decided to focus on. Once it is finished, I can look at the other things clamoring away and decide what’s next.

Funnily enough, as I was pondering this post, this post came to my attention. It outlines a very similar process, called the Ivy Lee process for productivity. (It is worth heading over there and taking a look.)

So how does this relate back to writing? For me, it means always knowing where I’m going next so that there’s no time for indecision to take hold. Once I’m rolling on a project, this is usually not a problem.  But sometimes writer’s block does strike–and it’s always, always, always because I’m not sure where to go next.

Things I recommend to prevent indecision from stymying your writing:

  • If you start to feel blocked, even a faint whiff of it, free write. Take the last line of the last scene you wrote and use that as a prompt.  Or just write out the problem as a prompt.
  • Maintain a list of ideas in a dedicated notebook. Anytime you have a moment of indecision, check out the list. It might get you going again.
  • Don’t slavishly adhere to chronology.  If the scene you’re working on isn’t lighting you up, move on to another one.
  • Create a loose outline. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Mine is just a list of scenes with notes about each scrawled about each one. But it really helps those moments of indecisiveness.
  • If all else fails, just choose something and go with it.  Not sure if your character should jump off a bridge or ride a merry-go-round? Just commit and write. You’d be amazed how often this works.  And if it doesn’t, you’ll soon figure it out.

How do you deal with indecision that blocks you? Leave a comment!

Or join the Facebook group and come chat there!

Photos from everystockphoto.