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I have slammed into a brick wall. For the past two weeks I’ve been trying to get chapter 7 written. I have about five paragraphs and one false start. And I’m just not sure what the problem is.

My outline is there. I know the arc of the story and have done a more detailed outline up to chapter eleven. But every time I sit down to get going, I just can’t find the words I need to use. Something just feels off. Like I’m not in the right spot for the story. That what I’m working with isn’t where I should be.

Of course I know what I should be doing. Just writing down anything. Anything to get the words flowing and moving toward the end of the book. I can always move and edit things later. But I have this weird propensity to want what I’ve written before to make logical sense for later. So far I’d done a good job staying away from that feeling. But it is hard.

For instance, a character that I thought had written themselves out has come back. But at this late in the book, I feel like introducing a new character out of the blue won’t work. So I see where I’ll need to do some sowing in the earlier chapters, in order to make sense why he comes back later.

And maybe that’s my hangup. Maybe I just need to get that stuff straightened out before I can move on. My writing group tends to push people away from that kind of thing. Doing major edits and needling before moving on. But I have just have to do it so my brain can feel at rest.

Or, I can just press on and write a bunch of junk to be fixed later.

I’m always grateful for later.

One thing I’ve learned is that having a writing group that puts me on a schedule is fantastic. When I have to present, I just go. That could also be a part of the problem. I’m not presenting this Sunday, so I don’t have that pressure to get something to them. I’m afforded too much time to think.

So I guess that’s it. I just need to turn on the afterburners and bust through the wall, right? Write.

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5 Comments

  1. Regularly submitting to my writing groups has been a blessing because it gives me deadlines and a schedule. Plus I know there are people waiting to see it.

    If I were you, I’d skip ahead and write the stuff you have ideas for and then go back and plug stuff in. However, that could lead to continuity problems. Maybe the “write anyway” suggestion is the best way to do it.

    I can be a wall to bounce ideas off if you need help.

    • I’ve tried skipping ahead. But it is like my brain can’t grasp what needs to be written because the details of what has come before aren’t there. Stupid brain.

      If things don’t come together tonight, I’ll contact you and see what your thoughts are.

  2. yoga-adan says:

    “Maybe I just need to get that stuff straightened out before I can move on. My writing group tends to push people away from that kind of thing. Doing major edits and needling before moving on. But I have just have to do it so my brain can feel at rest….” –

    this is a tough one jeff –

    i think you need to do whatever it is that’ll keep you progressing toward a finished piece

    ie, look at where some foreshadowing might work, insert a line or two, or even a note or comment

    then see if the motor starts and you can get down the road a bit further

    if not, then more notes, comments, & actual foreshadowing work

    you’re gonna have to play with this – this is really you –

    literally, working it your story out…

    if you build a house, and find you’re gonna have to brace some walls cause you’ve decided to fit a loft or stairs or out-sized window in, then you gotta go back and prepare the bracing, wiring, etc

    when you’ve done enough to be safe and effective, you add til you either see you can finish, or need to bolster some more

    u don’t want the darn thing crashing down on you 😉

    but this is all your call here, best wishes, you know you’ll figure it out 😉

  3. Kaa says:

    What Mike Stackpole and Ann Crispin (at different times) have said about this is that if you hit a wall, it usually means something before that is broken. Mike says to back up about 300 to 1000 words to see what’s broken, fix that, and then move on. Ann said something similar.

    (Mike has office hours every Wednesday night at 9pm EST on Second Life; I took Ann Crispin’s beginners’ writing workshop at Dragon*Con in 2008.)

    • I think that is really the crux of it. Both times this has happened to me, I just ended up asking myself, “What can I do differently with this scene?” When I was able to find a new avenue, the flood gate burst.

      In this case, I turned what was a boring ride home from school, into a very intriguing set of circumstances.

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