Friday, June 15, 2018

Breaking Through Being Stuck

Tis the season for daily thunderhead formation. Tis the season to get weather alerts on your cellphone saying, 'Lightning strike reported within 1 mile of your location' which is code for GET INSIDE STUPID.

Wish I could use this as a metaphor to segue into today's topic but that would imply a level of caffeination I have yet to achieve. But I can admit that this was my topic suggestion, because you know me. Always on the look out for new and better power tools to help me finish books. A year ago, I'd have told you I don't often get stuck on a book - not for long. Like Jeffe, I'd keep chipping away at my blocks, little pieces at a time. I didn't believe it was possible to write oneself into a corner.

I see you've noticed the past tense. Yeah, I honestly thought I'd done it this time. I'm six months past deadline. My outtakes file is twice the size of the manuscript. (But I'm closing in on The End. Again.) I've discovered a bunch of stuff in the process of working through my stuckness on this project.
  1. It IS possible to write myself into a corner - BUT. That corner is a construct of my mind and when I'm staring at those walls closing in on me, the best way out is through those walls. That means questioning everything. Do I need this plot line? How about that one? Wait. How did this story thread get in here and what purpose does it serve? Zen tidbit for the day: Most of the prisons we find ourselves in are of our own making.
  2. When you take a wrong turn at Albuquerque, you can go back and take that left turn. Or you can give up control of the story and see where it goes. I did that. When my alpha readers sent my first rough draft back to me with 'Whoa. Wrong turn!' I don't think they'd expected me to use that as an opportunity to back it all the way up and question everything. But I did. Because I need this story to be right. Fun? No. Necessary, nevertheless. 
  3. Take a stab at plotting. I never, ever, ever want a repeat performance of trying to write this book. Never. Will plotting solve my problems? Dunno, but I do mean to find out. Gods know it can't make the process worse. (Which is not a challenge to the Universe, I swear.)
Being stuck requires an act of violence to break free. Please note that violence is to be visited up the manuscript - not upon oneself or anyone or anything else. I had to murder a lot of darlings to get at the core story. When I'd offed enough of them, I could see my way forward again. 

I say all of this as if I know what I'm doing. As if I'm not wracked by doubts and every 'yer doing it wrong' voice to ever have sullied this planet. Pro tip: The louder that nonsense is, the closer you are to doing the right thing by a story. Unless your alpha readers tell you otherwise. But only they get to judge. Not you. And certainly not those crappy voices.