Stuck

Tapping a Pencil

Image by Rennett Stowe via Flickr

Confession: I’ve never experienced “Writer’s Block.” At least, not the way other writers have described it. Sure, I’ve had to grasp for the right words sometimes, but in the end, I’ve always pushed through and found something to say.

And, I think that’s been part of my problem with my WIP now.

In favor of getting the full scope of the storyline, I just scraped the top of the story, and didn’t really dig in and get to the meat of anything. For added whimsy, or perhaps because I was so sleep deprived I didn’t know what I was writing, I even threw in some scenes that I thought may work, but didn’t really fit in with the story as a whole. The result? I got a rough draft really fast, and a WIP that hardly makes sense to me now.

Forward motion is lauded during the rough draft stage, and of course I agree that rough drafts should be about unedited words spilled onto the page. While writing the rough draft of WIP1, I just wanted to go, go, go, and thought I was doing the right thing, because rough drafts are supposed to be done fast, right? Well, the caveat that I missed was that rough drafts also need to be coherent so that I can understand what it is I wanted to say when I come back to the project months later with fresh eyes.

I haven’t thought about what an advantage it is to just stop, reread my work, and gain insight into what the people in my story will do next and why. I didn’t get the chance to really know the characters, know their motivation, and really, the Story in the WIP. I raced so much toward The End, that I didn’t allow myself to appreciate being stuck, and really think about a scene and explore it. If I had, I may have more of a story to work with now.

Some food for thought:

In the first moment people get stuck they get scared. Inexperienced writers fear being stuck means they’ve done something wrong. I know the opposite is true. This is where the real work begins. When you’re stuck, you’re forced to think and thinking is good. Thinking is the entire point to the enterprise of writing. To think and feel and, through writing, express those thoughts and feelings to others. You’re being forced to reconsider what you’re doing and good writing demands consideration.

Scott Berkun

Please visit the full blog post, “How to write 1000 words” here and also, watch a five-minute video of his writing process here.

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10 thoughts on “Stuck

  1. Paul Joseph says:

    I think writer’s block varies from person to person. I find my problem isn’t so much knowing what happens, but more figuring out how to move forward correctly or connect parts together. Though, in the chapter I’m currently revising, I’m not sure I still know the key events. I thought I did, but now, something seems to be missing. Until I identify where I’m lacking, it’s gonna be tough making much progress.

    • Liza Kane says:

      I know what you mean! I’m just happy that I instead of worrying about those times that I may be writing more slowly than others, I’ve decided to revel in finding the best words to express whatever idea/scene/etc that I want to portray. I’ve been enjoying this slower pace more than I thought I would.

  2. Becka (StickyNoteStories) says:

    I have several first drafts that make little to no sense because I rushed through them just trying to get them done, so I know how you feel. But once I re-read and figure out what the heck is going on I can usually get back on track by re-writing at a slower pace. I know I should just do that in the first place, but I don’t think I’d get the story out all the way to the end if I did 🙂
    Good luck editing!

    • Liza Kane says:

      Thanks Becka! And, yes, the forward momentum is such a lovely feeling…BUT, now that I know how MUCH work I’ll need, I’m definitely being a lot more thoughtful and intentional about the words I’m choosing for my current rough draft.

  3. Regina says:

    There are times that you might feel like you wrote some filler to keep your novel flowing, but once you do get to the meat of your story it will come out as intended. You will break through!

    • Liza Kane says:

      Thanks Regina!
      The break through is not the problem: more like the fixing! 😀
      I am being a lot more thoughtful on my current rough draft (WIP2) than I was on WIP1.

  4. Michele Shaw says:

    We always have to figure out our own process, and maybe this is you figuring it out. That’s great! I am not a fast drafter. I don’t really call anything a “1st” or “2nd” draft, because I am a constant editor. That means I move forward slowly, but I’ve found that way works best for me. Best of luck, Liza! You’ll get it smoothed out and every time you start something new, you’ll have a better idea of how to tackle it:)

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