Did you have a great weekend? I did—it was pretty cold, though. Colder than normal.
And don’t worry about the pants—no wearing necessary to reap the benefit.
It all starts with a strange claim…
A friend of mine said you could dry clothes outside in the winter. I was sorta wondering, because it’s starting to get colder, and our basement’s not the driest one on the planet (with a dryer that’s currently another story).
I found out that they freeze as they dry, and then after you bring them in from outside, they get limp and foldable like they’re supposed to (eventually).
I have a pair of sweatpants that I really like that I can’t put through the wringer (again, another story entirely—I’ll have to catch up on all these future stories and posts, eventually).
Anyhow, I’d tried this experiment with frozen clothes before, but the results weren’t so awesome as…
Sure it’s strange, and maybe a little cool, too (ha…), but that’s the point.
Like the post where I said I have to be me, and you have to be you.
My frozen pants brought that point home for me. Here’s a couple of things I’ve learned from it, and how they can help you with writing or marketing:
No one has experienced what you have. Yeah, okay, maybe that’s obvious. But we’re going to take it in a different direction, here and now.
The things that you know, like, or even are horrible at (music, typing, proofreading, what-have-ya-to-infinity) are going to affect all the other things that you know as well. And that includes everything from your education, lifestyle, work, hobbies…everything.
Like I wouldn’t have dried clothes outside in sub-freezing weather if I wasn’t curious about whether it could be done, what the result would be, and didn’t need to dry things without a dryer (for right now).
And then I wouldn’t have written here about it. See? Skills, education, situation, all rolled into one.
All because of a frozen pair of sweatpants.
Which leads me to…
No one can put the pieces together like you can (see #1). The way you solve a problem, (or think of a way around it) will be affected by your background, education, friends you’ve met, coworkers, and so on. Something only you can do.
Back to my frozen pants for a second.
Someone who’s not me would be able to get a mechanic friend over to analyze the situation, quote a price, fix the dryer and get things back on track (which would include a conversion to a gas hookup if the current machine couldn’t be dealt with and we had to get a new-to-us model).
Right now, I’m using a wooden drying rack over by the heat duct. And I might be able to call someone—I dunno. Not a lot of my friends work with machines—not the local ones, anyway.
Okay, so how does this help you?
With writing, if you have a problem (or something sounds lame, at least to you) friends are great. And your life experience is going to dictate where you find those friends (a writer’s group, an aunt who taught high school for 30 years and still loves to read, or what-have-ya). People you know can help you, or you can help yourself.
You write what you know and like (usually). So, if you have a problem with a story or email you’re working on, you can also solve the problem yourself (sometimes).
A new story to base an email on, or a different plot perspective can help things sometimes. Try things from the antagonist’s perspective, and see what you come up with, for instance.
This could also result in more problems, depending on your strengths and weaknesses as a writer (and yes, we all have them–they smooth out with practice, feedback, and writing. Oh, and more writing).
If all else fails, you could work on an entirely different project after you get tired of banging your head against the (metaphorical, I hope) wall.
There’s more than one way to do something, including throwing things into an idea file and starting over (that option doesn’t work for clothes too well–unless you sew or make your own).
But how I solve my writing problems isn’t going to be the way you solve yours (I have a novelist friend I ask questions every once in a while. I trust her advice—and we’ve never met. Not once. Our only contact is online through chats and forums).
And if you market something (books, information, anything), depending on the set-up, these same tactics will work (if you happen to be working with an agent, you may or may not have a lot of creative leeway, but that’s that).
Just like trying a single thing as a different tactic on one story or email, thinking up several different things to try can be combined to work on something current, or combined to be tried on a totally new project (like a piece of feedback on transitions + a smart piece of dialogue revealing character + good character change = something you’ll have to figure out based on your story, email, plot, character, or what-have-ya…this writing thing lasts a lifetime for a reason, you know?)
What about you? How have you used your expertise or connections to solve a problem? Or have you ever tried the “frozen clothes” experiment? Drop me a line in the comments—I’d like to know your thoughts.
And the next time you get stuck, remember the lessons gleaned from my frozen sweatpants, okay?
Until next time,