Once again I'm contributing to the How I Write
series sponsored by Ansha. Click on the links to see a list of other contributing writers. Trust me, it will be worth your time. I've learned much from them already this summer. This week's topic is motivation--or getting through the middle pages.
Let me tell you, I'm there, stuck right in the middle. If I plotted my novel instead of pantsing it, I might know just how far in the middle I was, but I have no clue how much further I have to go. This week is better than the past few weeks have been. At the end of June I could barely force myself to sit down at the computer and open the file for my WIP. When I did open it, I stared at the screen. Words came slowly. Nothing happened. I was convinced that everything I had previously written was utter drivel. How could I go on? I didn't even know where my novel was going in the next paragraph, much less the next chapter. I was not just stuck, I was petrified.
How did I find my way out of this stuck-ness? First, lots of deep breathing. Then I read lots of blogs by other writers and learned that I was not alone. Many of my favorite writers had been in the same place I was now. In fact, it seemed to be expected to hit such rough patches at some point while writing. I told myself if they could get through it, so could I. But the writing wouldn't come any easier.
Then I went on vacation. Really, this vacation had been planned since last fall, but it came at a good time in my attempt to draft this first novel. While on vacation, I took a vacation of sorts from drafting. Rather than continue to the slow plod to nowhere, I explored the world of my novel. I asked myself lots of questions about the world of my novel. I answered my questions. I interviewed my characters and let them tell me their stories. I wrote scenes from before the story of my novel. The whole time on vacation, my mind kept coming back to my story. What was important about this story? What was its heart? Where did I want it to go next? These thoughts roamed around my head while driving from one tourist destination to another, while bouncing in the waves of Lake Michigan with my daughter, while drifting off to sleep.
Once I got home, I reread my novel from chapter one, something I had not done in a long time. I added some scenes and changed others. By the time I got to my where the story stopped, I found I was ready to keep going, and so I have. So can you. Whatever it takes--just keep writing and know you are not alone.
How do you face those stuck periods in your writing?