Stuck, stuck, stuck

By the time I finish writing this post, it will be 2PM on Wednesday of the first full work week in 2015 and I won’t have written a word of story that I’ve wanted to keep at the end of the day. That is not good.

Back in November, I had all sorts of ideas about where this story was going. Over the past few weeks, they all seem to have disappeared, like fog burning off in the midday sun. Wisps of scenes linger, but they’re just wisps. Why were they at the bed and breakfast? What was that character’s role supposed to be? Why is it that my characters only seem to want to have conversations and not do anything?

I stare at the file and try to solve the single problem in front of me — is Dillon trapped or not? how much detail do I need to set up the problem? — but I wind up playing with the individual words, arranging and rearranging the same sentences, the same phrases, the same actions. It is getting really damn annoying.

I know all the ways to overcome writer’s block. Most of them boil down to “sit down in the chair and stare at the page and do not leave the chair until words are written.” But sometimes it does help — me, at least! — to warm up the fingers and write words, any words, any thing, dumb or not, just to shut off the critic in my head and remind myself that this is how the process works. So this is me, doing that, and now I’m going to go back to staring at my file and shuffling around the deck chairs.

The one good idea I had today, though, was to treat my two interweaving stories as separate stories for now. Write the scenes that belong to Grace and Noah, and then the scenes that belong to Dillon and Rose (or vice versa) and worry about how they flow together later. The problem with that approach — which I realized as soon as I opened up the file — is that setting is important and I can’t know where the ghosts are unless I know where the humans are. Perhaps I will head into Powerpoint — an old favorite workflow tool — and start noodling around with the various scenes that I know I have in mind and see if I can fit them together. Instead of words leading to structure, I can see if some structure can lead me to words.

And if not… well, there’s always taxes to do. Or insurance paperwork. Writing ought to be more important than either of those things (at the moment — I’m not exactly worried about deadlines yet), but at least it would be getting something done.

Edited to add: instead I went off and checked out my RSS feed and this post from Patricia Wrede was both timely and relevant.

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2 thoughts on “Stuck, stuck, stuck

  1. I rarely give advice but I’m going to – sort of – maybe it’s just meant to be funny. Next time you feel stuck, maybe jump up and down until everything comes unstuck. Seriously, sometimes movement will unstick me.

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