Intriguing title, I know. Anyway, I wanted to spend this time here talking about a phenomena I’ve recognized a lot with myself, and I’m sure it’s something other writers have seen too. (This is also a journal post about writing, just to cool down from some of the seriousness of the last journal.) Basically this is similar to a case of writing block, and it’s what people would probably call writing block, but to me it is slightly different. Essentially what I am talking about here is when you have a perfectly good idea for a story. You know where it’s going, you know how you want to finish, you have a good beginning, and everything is going fine, but you just come to this point in the book, usually for me it’s a particular chapter, that just won’t write itself like the others did. What do you do?
I realize more and more that this is sounding like writer’s block, but whatever. XP I recently had a problem with it myself, when writing chapter eighteen (yes, it is coming out people. =P) of Cold Hands. Anyway, what do you do? Well, for me, there are three solutions, and they vary based on the case. And now, since I may as well treat this like an essay for school, I’ll go ahead and list them: waiting, cutting down, and turning the wheel. (Those were deliberately as abstract as I could get them =P) Oh, and there is also a secret fourth solution I’ll mention but which I’ll never use personally.
Waiting. Sometimes when I’m hit by this, it’s because I’ve burnt myself out. This happens when I go to my story to try and write, and I just get along to an awfully slow start. Usually I don’t really get any kind of start at all. Nothing I’m proud of. People who know me know that I’m a very instinctual writer. I write based on the feel of the story, how I want it to go, but how I feel the story should go. Thus I have experienced major changes to my planned storyline. All waiting does is allow the creativity to come back into my head and build up there, where it can once again burst forth onto the paper. (Is it fair to call digital paper paper?)
Cutting down simply means to get rid of the part you had in mind. Occasionally I will know what’s supposed to happen in the chapter, I will write what’s supposed to happen in the chapter, but it just does not flow right. Something about it doesn’t sit well with me, and that is because, as I realize after a while, it does not belong. Hopefully you other people will realize, as I occasionally do, before you actually take the pains to write the chapter/scene, so that deleting it is merely getting rid of it in your head and moving on. But if you do write it down, like I sometimes do, don’t be afraid to press the delete button. Your readers will thank you for it, and you’ll feel all the better for having removed that load.
And finally turning the wheel. This is probably the most abstract of the three but I’m certain my smarter readers have caught on as to what it might mean. Essentially, this is similar to the last one in the fact that it is modifying your original plan, but possibly in a less destructive way. Turning the wheel is when you have to change the direction of the story to keep it flowing. Sometimes, based on what you have written, continuing with your original idea just won’t roll correctly with the story. This is when you have to be decisive and determine where you now have to point your story. This has happened in small ways with me all over Cold Hands. The death of Alex for example.
And so, that’s it. I will briefly mention the secret fourth solution: making an outline beforehand. That’s it. No more words said about it, since you guys All know how much I hate outlines. So yeah, that’s it. This post is done and over with now. I hope you guys enjoyed reading it. Maybe you gleaned a few tips, I don’t know. Just, whatever you do, don’t let a silly case of writer’s block, yes, I’ve finally called it that, stop you from finishing up your beautiful novel. All right, see ya!