Saturday, 25 January 2020

Writing through plotter block

Image result for writer's block

Everyone knows what writer's block is; and although I have repeatedly stated that I don't really believe in it, and that I'm ALWAYS ready to write once I've gotten a couple of little people off my back, 2019 has challenged this statement somewhat.

It was a busy year. I have edited over a million words (in the course of my work as a fiction editor), or about the equivalent of a dozen full-length novels - a novel a month. Thankful as I was for not being out of work a single day that year, there were moments when I wish I could slow down.

It is no wonder, then, that working on the fourth book in my Frozen World sci-fi series, my own book often got whatever dregs and scraps I was able to piece together at the end of a day. Even beginning to write, though I got the premise and title more or less figured out as soon as I finished the latest book in the series, was a stretch.

I have been a plotter for a very long time - from about the moment when I realized that having an outline may well make the difference between finishing a novel in a reasonable time and muddling for years through a series of plot holes big as the moon's craters. So, of course, my credo became, "I'm not even starting before I know how I will finish!"

The problem is, in this case waiting to have the perfect worked-out plot resulted in me sitting before that plot outline, staring at it evening after evening, closing it in frustration, and ending up writing nothing at all.

At all. For a very long time.

I knew how the story would begin. I knew more or less where it was heading. But some parts were blank.

And eventually, I threw in the towel and just started writing.

It was the best decision I could have made. It alleviated my frustration and helped keep my creative juices flowing. It helped me focus. It enhanced my productivity - by challenging myself to produce 1,000 words a day, rain or shine, I was forced to figuratively take a sledgehammer and hack away at the plot block wall until it crumbled, because the show had to go on. So far I have written 35,000 words of this new book and hope to finish the first draft in February.

My takeaway? Don't get hung up on a system, even if it's a good system and has served you well. If it's hindering you from actually writing, make a U-turn and try something new.

Write. Take time off, but also write. It gets easier once you're in the habit of productivity, I promise.