Friday, May 3, 2013

The Most Interesting Thing: Problem Solving

"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."
--Albert Einstein


Have you wrestled with a problem lately? I have. For the past few months, I've been pondering two major problems--mysteries--waiting to be solved. One is a lifelong health mystery. The other is a car dying mystery. Both undiagnosable by the so-called experts. I am happy to announce that last week both problems were solved by the use of inductive reasoning. In just one week, my health has improved dramatically and my car is starting consistently. Yay!!!

I've always loved problem solving. True confession: I was a member of my high school math team. But there's something way more fun to solve than math equations in our writing lives--the ubiquitous story problem.

We writers are often faced with story problems that we create ourselves. I love to brainstorm ideas on how to fix them. Sometimes the solutions are so simple. Just a minor tweak and voil√†--story fixed! I find that solutions to story problems often arrive in those foggy moments of barely conscious, first thing in the morning. A different level of consciousness, as Mr. Einstein put it. 

How do you go about solving story problems? Any tips?


  1. I solve story problems while walking my dog. There's something about the fresh air, nature, and my dog's joy that brings about new perspective.

  2. Glad to hear both problems were solved in the end!

    I usually solve story problems by focusing only on the story or by occupying my brain with something else and letting them stew.

  3. Sometimes, I need to let things simmer in my head for a bit. Sometimes the solution will come along unexpectedly. Other times, I try writing out scenarios as if they were actual scenes in the story, often those lead to solutions or help me find how I got lost in the first place. Hope your heath continues to improve and your car keeps on starting.

  4. I seem to find my solutions by talking/explaining the problem to either my hubby or my critique group. Just the act of explaining it seems to frequently generate the solution!

    1. Talking things through can be very helpful. I do that with crit partners sometimes.

  5. Glad you found solutions!

    My strategies:
    I take walks.
    I ask myself questions about what's happening, what's at stake, where does the story need to go.
    I do free-writing from the POV of whichever character needs to be addressed.

  6. Yay, another math person. :) And I love that Einstein quote.

  7. Yay for solutions!!
    I usually work my story problems out my not working on them. If I set the story aside and work on something else, when I finally go back to it, the solution usually comes to me.

  8. Yay on solving both problems! :)

    For me it depends on the project and the nature of the problem. Sometimes I'll step away from the project entirely for a couple days, and the distance helps me see the problem a little clearer. Other times I'll just push through it (which is what's happening with my project right now). I write, backtrack, write some more, and eventually something will work out.

  9. Sounds like you've had some good stuff going on! We do need to catch up sometime...

  10. Hiya.

    Just wanted to say hello and let you know I nominated you for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award. The details are here:

    Have a great day!




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