Thursday, October 6, 2011

Breaking the blocks

One of my usual stopping spots for news on all things sci-fi and fantasy is io9, and pretty much every day there's multiple things worth checking out.  Today there's a rather nice one on the Ten Types of Writers' Block

I have to admit, #2 (Plenty of ideas, but nothing sticks) and #4 (stuck in the middle with nowhere to go) were frequent problems I had.  Those two comprise a key reason why I have a handful of started novels buried away in my files.  I would have a concept for a book, and jump in a start writing... and then find it doesn't go anywhere.  A few of those was what helped me accept that I'm an outliner at heart. 

Now that I am an outliner, of course, I do hit bumps with #3 (stuck between points in the outline).  I've often had those moments where the path from A to B to C just isn't as clear as it seems it out to be.  Often what I've done is just go ahead and write C and leave a notation for B to write later.  Usually what I've found is that the problem was I had to do a lot more things than I expected to get from A to C.

My main paralyzers at this stage are numbers 7, 8 and 9-- all of which boil down to that inner voice of self-criticism.  I'm often staring at the screen thinking, "This doesn't work, this CAN'T work, I'm a hack and everyone will think this is stupid."  Then I get over it, best I can, and plow on through.

What else am I going to do?  Not write?  Yeah, that doesn't work either.


Anonymous said...

I'm probably most stuck on #1. I used to have a million ideas but they've pretty much all evaporated on me - usually when I discovered that someone else had already done exactly what I'd been thinking about. Over time, I've become less concerned about "copying" ideas, but by that point I'd pretty much moved away from writing fiction entirely after spending most of my free time writing during high school. I'm finding it a very hard habit to get back into.

leigh said...

#3 has been my problem, and it used to be because of reason 1 (plot/logic/continuity problems), and now it's reason 2 (but the good parts are more fun to write!). I'm trying to cope with it by letting the "boring" or unclear parts percolate in my brain while I work on the more interesting stuff, hoping that brilliance will strike me later on. Believe it or not, it's actually kind of working.

#7 is also a problem, though I'm not so much worried that people will say the story sucks as much as "um, this is really weird," or "this is way too sappy," or "this reads like fan fiction." Buuut although the read-through of my first draft was utterly emotionally traumatic and the feedback hard to hear, it has ultimately made the story a lot better. Hearing "your story sucks" is probably hard on anyone, but hearing "this part of your story sucks but here's how you could fix it" softens the blow quite a bit.

#8 I've faced, but I get over it, usually with the whole "let it percolate" mantra. With #10, I seem to have the OPPOSITE problem... what I want to say has passed through my brain, but I just can't make myself sit and write it. So now I'm trying to persuade myself with yet another mantra: Just write it, even if it's bad; you'll fix it later. I have used the recommended remedy for #10, though.

A. Lockwood said...

7, 9 and 10 are the worst for me I think. I can psych myself out pretty easily.