Have you ever felt that you were writing a story as if you were looking at it from an outside window? Those are my bad writing days. I hate it when the prose goes flat, the characters have to be pinned up against wall (or as, in this case, a tree) they're such paper cutouts, and the plot has become a series of not-too-exciting episodes.
A few years ago I heard a speaker at a conference who gave us an exercise to try in small groups. It was this: We had to think of a single picture of something very private. Something we wouldn't want anyone else to see--so secret that we wouldn't even carry it in our wallets for fear of being in an accident and having a paramedic discover it. (Kind of the ratty panties or shorts your grandmother warned you never to wear in case you wound up in a hospital.)
Then once we had the image that made us squirm with embarrassment or discomfort, we had to write or re-write something--a scene from one of our WIPs, a character description, a setting we'd been trying to nail and hadn't.
The premise behind this was to make us understand our job as writers is to reveal what's hidden and disturbing and in some cases fear-provoking. We can do that best if we start by revealing what we've hidden: that deep seated panic of being lost, that sense of despair when someone we love dies, the intense hatred of another, the embarrassment of the flub in front of people.
I have a few of these snapshots and I use them when I'm doing what I call shallow writing. And, no, you can't see them. You might get a peek at my shallow writing, however.
I'm doing a little unscientific survey. Want to help? Here's the hypothetical situation. The book is in the submission phase, so the writer is in that wonderful hell called WAITING-TO-HEAR-BACK.
What do you think is the most important thing this writer should do, believing that s/he will be published and will soon have to tell the world about this new book?