Those three words are my cue. Each day when I finish writing, I type them in brackets wherever I have left off writing. The next morning, I search for [stopped here today] and go instantly to where I need to begin. (I also use [edit from here] so I know which sections need a going-over with the editing comb.)
Most of the time I look forward to that moment when I do the search and find my place. But sometimes, when I feel stuck (as I have for the last few days), I search with as about much anticipation as I usually muster for cleaning the toilets (which is to say, not much). Right now, for example, I’m struggling to finish a chapter that has been resisting me. I know generally how I want it to end but the specifics are eluding me. In the past few days I’ve written and backspaced over hundreds of words.
This is when writing really isn’t much fun. The old spark just ain’t sparking. But I have kept at it. Finally, this morning, I wrote a few decent paragraphs. I now can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
I’m grateful, when encountering what could be described as writer’s block, to be a more—ahem—mature writer. My younger writing self might have concluded any number of things from this frustration:
- I’m no good
- The story sucks
- It’s not worth going on
The current incarnation of my writing self knows that, as Clare De Boer so aptly pointed out, what’s needed to be a writer is patience and perseverance.
Writing makes an apt metaphor for life (or is it the other way around?). Some days, just getting up seems like a lot of work. Much easier to lie in bed and not even bother. But with a little perspective, you know that all states of being are temporary. As my mother was fond of saying, “This too shall pass.”
So I’ll be back at it tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. After all, I’ve promised myself another 40,000 words by June 30 (that’s what I settled on for my ROW80 commitment).
Sometimes the thing to do is to let it perculate a little bit. I’m a great believer in the subconscious mind. I swear it works on things while I’m not aware of it. I do try to work a little on what I’m writing every day, but there are times when all I do is tidy up parts I’ve already written and nothing “new” happens – at least visibly on the page (screen). I just try to have faith. Sooner or later, something will come. It always has.
Absolutely! I KNOW the subconscious works on things when the conscious mind is doing something else. There’s a new book out about creativity that I want to read, “Imagine: How Creativity Works,” by Johah Lehrer. I heard him interviewed and I think the book delves into exactly these kinds of issues.
Keep up the faith!
When I’m having trouble with a scene I just decide everything is a placeholder. I may not be happy with what I write, but I write something. Sometimes it’s blucky messy stuff. But at some point after I’ve moved forward I know exactly how to fix that scene. 🙂 Even when it feels like that moment will never happen. Congrats for having the persistence to keep going!
That is basically what I have decided to do. I love your technical term, “blucky.” That describes so perfectly what often comes out when I feel less than inspired!
Good! LOL @ blucky. It’s like a swamp vomited on the page. And I have to wade through it. 😉
So true. A writer needs to be good at delayed gratification, that’s for sure. And pressing on…
I think you’ve got a great attitude to your writing. Patience and perseverance… hmmm, not my strongest character traits 🙂 Which is why I struggle, like you, when the ‘flow’ isn’t flowing too well.
Well done for getting down to it, and I’m glad you perseverance paid off.