Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Anita's Attic: Smashing Through Writer's Block


I have an upcoming deadline that's looming too close for comfort, and since I'm not a fast writer, I'm feeling some pressure. The writing is going good. I'm happy with the plot and the characters, I'm writing every day, paying attention to word count, and watching the pages add up, but I still have so much to do. I would love to have my rough draft finished by now, take a month break from the story, then start on edits. Not happening. I've spent the past two days stuck on one scene. Not because I don't know have any idea what happens next, but because I have two things that could happen next. Which one do I choose?

This is where my indecisiveness trips me up. Either option would work, maybe equally well, and that's the problem. I can't decide between them. I look at pros and cons, try to weigh which is better for the story, but still I can't decide. Maybe I'm thinking too hard. Sometimes I can move to a different place in the manuscript and the issue will resolve itself based on what happens there, but sometimes I can't move on until I know.

Eventually the breakthrough comes, sometimes through brainstorming with someone else, my CP or hubby. Sometimes seeing a movie or reading something in a book will spark an answer. More often than not, the answer comes in the wee hours when I'm trying to sleep, as it did this time. I had gone to bed at a decent hour, something that's rare for me. I woke after three hours and couldn't go back to sleep. So I let my mind go. And bam! there it was. A solution staring me in the face.

Austin had just come to bed after a bout of insomnia and I didn't want to keep him awake, so I grabbed my iPhone, dove under the covers, and started making notes. After the frustration of the past two days, I wasn't taking any chances that I might forget the solution to my problem. I was suffocating under the covers, but exhilarated. Even more exhilarated when Austin decided he still couldn't sleep and I was able to pull my head out from under the covers and breathe. It was beautiful. The ideas were flying, and in less than an hour I had fixed that problem and another scene that was going to be an issue later on.

All writers get stuck in scenes, but do you ever get stuck because you have more than one option?

11 comments:

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Awesome! So glad you worked it all out. And I might write fast, but I am bad about leaving enough time to really make it shine. Good luck and happy writing.

Liz Lipperman said...

I am a slow writer, too, Anita, and understand the deadline panic. I have never been stuck deciding which option to take. My dilemma sometimes is deciding where to go next.

Where are the good old days when we had lots of time to find the answers!!

Fantastic that you found your answer.

Tiffinie Helmer said...

YES! This is happening to me a lot right now as I'm writing short stories. I have these great ideas come up and know that if I go down that road the short story it out and I'll have a full novel on my hands. It's been really hard to hold myself back. To keep that short story tight. It's actually a good exercise in writing. I can't wait to start the next big story and bust loose!

Glad you found your way. It is like stumbling along a foggy path.

Lindsay said...

I'm also a slow writer so the more than one option has reared its ugly head. I usually go with the first choice in the rough draft but might go with one of the others when I read the book through because it will now, with the story finished work better.

Barbie Jo Mahoney said...

I used to be the fast writer but not anymore. I've even had that "ah-ha" moment in the wee hours of the morning. Those are glorious moments indeed!

Have you ever tried to write two separate scenes to see which way worked best? Or even two later scenes that would happen based on the option you chose? Now that could be an interesting way to decide!

Good luck with it. I'm sure you will finish on time.

Anita Clenney said...

Sorry, I'm late for comments everyone. I got busy. Kari, I do envy you that fast writing. I can go fast if I get on a roll and am uninterrupted. But it takes me a while to get my momentum.

Anita Clenney said...

Liz, I think too much. Or second guess too much.

Anita Clenney said...

Tiffinie, I admire people who write short stories. It takes a lot of talent to condense so much into such a short space. I did attempt one short story right after I first started writing. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good.

Anita Clenney said...

Lindsay, I'm glad I'm not the only person this happens to. Maybe that's what I should do, take the first one and move on.

Anita Clenney said...

Barbie, I have written two scenes in question, but I don't think I've written the ones following to see the impact. That's a good idea.

Lindsay said...

Actually taking the first one (idea) is something I learned in nursing school when taking tests. Never second guess yourself. Go with the gut.