When you are struggling to write and things just aren’t coming together, do you take a break or push through? I tend to push on through but based on what happened last week I still can’t decide if that’s good or bad.
I’ve been working on an article for several weeks now. The subject is the difference between a nonfiction picture book manuscript and a nonfiction magazine piece.
Version #1 gave an excellent description of picture books but relegated magazine nonfiction to manuscripts that simply didn’t work as picture books. Um. No.
Version #2 did a better job defining magazine nonfiction but the second half of the article felt unfocused. I took version #2 to critique group and Rita suggested a fix.
Version #3 used Rita’s suggestion. After discussing a quality that makes a manuscript either a good picture book or a good magazine piece, I described a picture book and a magazine piece on the same subject. These examples would show readers how each suited their category (picture book vs magazine). It was better but it still wasn’t good enough. I kept pushing my way through the manuscript, but finally I took a break.
On the way back from the bathroom, it hit me. My format was still too complicated. I needed to focus on the 3 traits that determine whether an idea is better suited to a picture book or a magazine piece. The second half of the manuscript, the unfocused section, would then become a tightly focused sidebar.
I still can’t decide if it was wise to push myself to keep working. Did my organizational epiphany come about because I pushed myself. Or did it come about because I took a break? I’m still not sure but I am relieved that somehow, someway, it finally came together.