Kathleen George is the author of the novels Taken and Fallen.
What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?
I've heard the usual advice—"sleep more" and "just write something else" and I agree that those are useful ways to think. But the thing that has helped me most is writing about the problem that is in the way of writing. I might, for instance, "I'm so afraid I'm writing about this character and she will be unsympathetic. And if she is, nobody will care. She has so much anger. I could divert the anger, but then . . . etc." I'm making up a case but I find I solve problems by writing about them. I hope that helps someone. It seems to help my students at Pitt.
What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?
My favorite ones are these two: A) Start with a small seemingly unimportant object. Give it everything you've got. Bring it up from memory. I got a whole good award nominated story by thinking of a wire coat hanger making a bumping sound in the coat closet. That led to a whole lot of other memories. B) Set up your situation with a plot based on cross-purposes. Make sure you have two forces or people who want different things and who see things differently. Remember the Montagues and the Capulets! I would say more here but I have a whole book manuscript in the works on this very subject. Stay tuned!
What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?
"If you aren’t risking sentimentality, (if you aren't coming to the very edge but not falling into it), you're not in the ball park." Lewis Nordan, author of Wolf Whistle and other wonderful books. He flirted with that sentimental borderline. He died this summer. I will attend his memorial and cry at the memory of this quirky great guy.