Good evening! Stepping Stones versus Stumbling Blocks! Conflict will arise when we write – because no story is complete without it – sometimes we welcome it – other times we dread it. How do you identify which category to place the conflict stirring on the pages? My view of conflict is determined by the answer to these questions – “Is today’s conflict moving my story one step forward with clarity?” If my summary is a solid “Yes!”, the conflict becomes identified as a Stepping Stone. I welcome Stepping Stones into my writing because this type of conflict elevates my writing – my imagination soars – the flow of my story is smooth – my characters step into the story at the precise time; their pace is perfect; our conclusion is in sync – and I have less editing before final draft. The second test question to determine my view of conflict – “Is today’s conflict challenging my ‘voice’ in this piece?” If my answer is “Yes!”, the conflict becomes identified as a Stumbling Block. I dread Stumbling Blocks mostly because they steal my valuable writing time – attempting to hijack my story by transforming my voice. In these instances I have to exercise continuous redirection of my characters – which throws off my rhythm and steals my creative efforts. I have formed a purely speculative conclusion – that Stumbling Blocks have forced many writers to give up on their story – I believe that this may be the number one reason that unfinished pieces live in manilla folders in the back of file cabinets – or on the bottom shelf of a bookshelf – never to be viewed again because they are proof of defeat. I,too, am guilty of conflict defeat! Let’s do ourselves a favor by visiting that file cabinet – let’s select one of our unfinished pieces and face this type of conflict as a GIFT this time. Completing our unfinished story, with this new perspective, will prove that both views of conflict add value that lead to writing growth.