WordPress is giving me the prompt “What skills or lessons have your learned lately?” I suppose that’s appropriate.

I’ve been struggling to get out of the beginning of my novel. Basically, I sit down and write a few thousand words. But when I return to it, it isn’t gelling enough for me to move on, so I redraft (which is to toss out what I’ve written and start over).

The lack of progress has been frustrating. A lot of people say, “Sit down and write. It’s that simple.” and I want to say, “No, it isn’t.”

And I don’t think it’s critical voice (at least not all the time).

Then I ran across this book, Dear Writer, You Need to Quit. It’s not about quitting writing. It’s about quitting assumptions and biases.

One is that just because everyone says, “Sit down and write. It’s that simple,” doesn’t mean it actually is for everyone.

It’s probably close to writing heresy.

The whole idea is that you should use your strengths to help you write, not battle against them trying to do what everyone else is recommending. Because what they’re recommending works for them, not necessarily for you.

And the strengths can be identified by the ClintonStrengths by Gallup. They charge about $50 for it, and then give recommendations of how to leverage.

My top strength is Intellection, which means I have to spend time thinking about it. It’s much more of a battle for me to sit down and simply start writing without doing that first.

It explains why, after 200 words, I’m jumping up to clean up in the kitchen. I sometimes use that to think, along with putting things away, walking or driving. I haven’t done as much walking lately because it’s been pretty cold. And none of that was a conscious decision to think about what I was going to do in the opening.

So I tried that. I spent three days walking around or driving and deliberately playing around with the ideas for the first few scenes. I even played Spider because that’s pretty mindless for me.

And I was able to write more in one sitting than before, though I had to stop for more thinking when my creative side surprised me with something.

When I returned to it after the second day, it felt more right than the other versions I’d tried.

So I’m experimenting with this, and it’s become my learning point for this book.