Writer’s Blues…(A tale of getting to the point)

I don’t really have the blues but I have been a little bummed lately.

Why you ask?

Because I have been sucking at this whole writing thing.

This is not a case of the Doubt Monster getting to me.I’m not doubting my talent. At this point I know I’m a good writer. I know I can write a good book but my problem is that I haven’t been writing very much this month.

In an average week I write between 7,000-10,000 words. In the past three weeks I’ve written maybe 1,000. For me that’s a huge deal. I want to blame it on exhaustion. The start of a new school year is rough on kids and teachers alike. I come home every night barely able to function but that has never stopped me before. I would sit down every night and get  my thousand words done regardless of how bad they were and the next day I would fix them. I still kept moving forward.

That’s not happening now. I’ve deleted the same scene three times. The bright side to this is that I know why I keep getting rid of it. The scenes were pointless. Well written, probably some of the best prose I’ve ever written but completely and utterly pointless.

When you’re writing a book there are no throw away scenes. Every scene needs a point or a goal. Something about it that moves the action forward. Yes, you need to build characterization if you are writing romance. Yes, you need butt kicking action if you are writing Urban Fantasy but even then it needs to have a point. Make sense?

The reason I having such a problem is that it’s the scene just after the big turning point in my novel and I can’t seem to mesh all their feelings and all the action that needs to be there in order to move the scene forward. I end up blabbing on for a thousand words about something I can get across in a hundred. It’s not easy though.

Some people might advise me to move on, to take a break from it to come back to it later but that is just not how I work.Especially in this case because this scene sets up how my hero and heroine relate to each other throughout the rest of the book. I want to take the next step forward in my writing. I don’t just want to write and OKAY book.

So today I’m seeking advice? Where do you turn to when you think your writing needs a boost?


13 thoughts on “Writer’s Blues…(A tale of getting to the point)”

  1. Number one, Jamie, I feel your pain. I call it the blah, blah, blah syndrome. Words on the page…going nowhere.

    Second, I’ve come to accept that my writing comes in spurts. I can be going along great guns, making my weekly word count and moving in a forward direction, and then poop! Nothing’s happening. Not on the page, not in the story, not in my writing. I stomp my feet, I wine (yes, that’s spelled correctly), I tell myself that I suck for a few days or weeks, and then I plow through it. I accept that the words on the page will eventually get me where I want to go. It may mean going back and revising those scenes right out of the manuscript later because they don’t move the story forward, but I find they were a necessary part of the process. I might find one or two nuggets in that mess that I’ll use along the way.

    Third, cut yourself some slack. Autumn and back to school time is stressful. It’s also a transitional time for many of us. Our energy and creativity might be heading into hibernation mode with the change of season. Be patient with yourself and realize that it’s only a temporary stumbling block–one that probably has a lesson or two for you to learn about yourself.

    And lastly, look at the turning point and decide what lesson the character learned from it. How did it make them grow? Usually, the scene after a big turning point requires some reflection on the part of your characters. A cooling down period or the “sequel” part of “scene and sequel.” It’s the transition from one scene to the next that allows the reader to “rest” and be in your character’s head for those revelatory moments. Transitional scenes are hard to write because you have to really know your character and how they would react to that turning point event. maybe now is a good time to sit down and do one of those silly character sketches and reassess what it is that your character really wants, why they want it, and what stands in their way. (GMC) Then, figure out what your next big turning point is going to be and write towards that.

    Bottom line, it’s okay to do a bit of blah, blah, blahing to get you past the blues and into the next scene.

  2. Hi Jamie,
    I think every writer has been in your position. Paula is right, cut yourself some slack. What I do when I’m stuck like this is write down in numbered sentences the top five things I need to do in the scene to move it along. The sentences do not even have to be complete, but can be thoughts. I think about what happened in the turning point scene and how it affected my characters. What is the impact and what would you do in that situation? Then I let it stew in my head for a day until I get a clear vision as to what I want to say. Then I write it. As you said, you can always go back and slash and trash … er … I mean edit it later. Chin up. You are a good writer and this too shall pass.

  3. To add to what’s already been written…creativity comes when you are rested and your mind is empty of the day’s clutter, so chill. Don’t force it. Take a walk, play with your dog–if you have one, or do something mindless.

  4. These are all excellent suggestions. You have a lot of pressure on you right now from many different directions, and that gets in the way of creativity. What if you took a short break from the story that’s giving you trouble, but continued writing your 1,000 words a day on something else, like a short story? Something that wouldn’t take too long or distract you much, but would let you feel like you’re accomplishing something and get your creativity flowing again? Then you could look at the problem area of your MS with a fresh eye. Sometimes when we try too hard, we get ourselves stuck. I’ll second the wine, chocolate and long walk suggestions as well!

  5. I can totally relate to what you’re going through and feel your pain. I also agree with everyone on this page. I always find comfort in going back to my old writing books or pick up a new one to re- assess my hero’s journey. I also grab a pencil and paper and brainstorm. As for the wine, chocolate and long walks: yes, yes and yes.

  6. I muscle my way through it too. I remind myself that I can always go back and fix it. I try never to edit a scene until I finish the draft. I make notes to myself about scene ideas, either using the comments feature of OpenOffice (I think Word has the same thing) or in the notes section of Scrivener.

    Sometimes (especially if I’m writing longhand), I just make a bracket and start taking notes in the middle of the scene. When I run out of notes, I close the bracket and get on with the scene.

    If I’ve decided to make changes to the scene later on, I note what those changes will be and keep on writing as if I’ve already made those changes. I learned that from Book in a Month (Schmidt, I think). She calls it “writing as if.” Instead of editing previous scenes for whatever changes you want, you make a note and keep writing as if those changes have been made. Then, you can go back and make them later.

    I tell myself this a lot “crappy first draft.” The first draft is supposed to be crappy. Then you can fix it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 😀

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