View Full Version : Living through painfully slow writing? (writer's block?)

The Kidd
01-12-2009, 08:50 AM
It was all going great! Faith had finished the WIP's first two chapters and had made good head-way into her third! Every thing was going smoothly, then all of a sudden, a dark and horrible creature crept over her. Was it writer's block? Was the scene necessary but just boring as hell to write? Who can say for certain.

Ok, all silliness aside. My fingers have been flying for two months until now. It feels like I will never get to the next scene in my story. I think its because its a scene I seriously need to think about before I finish it, one that will make or break my WIP. I know it's crazy, its probably only going to be six pages tops, but crap! Should I just force myself to write it? Or should I skip it, finish all the parts of the WIP I find easier and go back to those 'tough spots'?

01-12-2009, 02:36 PM
Try condensing the troublesome scene into a one-pager synopsis as a placeholder, you can always come back and expand to full length later, at least you'll know you've put something there that lets you crack on with the rest.

Or skip this and try writing a further-on chapter, see if this works instead.

Or try writing a short story just for a change of mindset, clear out the attic cobwebs, then come back to the novel. (Substitute any other brain-stimulating activity.)


01-12-2009, 03:20 PM
Also remember that even if the scene makes or breaks your WIP, getting it wrong in draft 1 does not make or break your WIP.

In fact, if it's that important, expect to write it several times. I'd personally get something down, even if it's an outline like Derek suggests -- and even it's wrong -- because there's nothing worse than a blank page. Once you have something down you'll be able to figure out how to fix it.

And speaking as a constant painfully-slow writer, remember that even at 500 words a day you'll get a novel draft done in less than a year :)

01-12-2009, 06:42 PM
Ugh. I'm having the same problem. I've rewritten the scene I"m currently on a couple of times. Fortunately, it's come out a bit better and a bit longer each time. Now I'm moving on to the next scene where I asked myself "What information will this new person be giving to the MC that he needs to know?"

01-12-2009, 07:30 PM
when i first worked my way through my WIP i spent about six months of the year in writers block. even though my first draft sucks with a big cheer leader Give me an S routien (no spell check, and having brain farts) now that i have it i haven't had writers block yet.

so my advice, make a few hacks at it. just make wild swings and then pick your best one, refine it, and then use it as a map to re-write it again.

01-12-2009, 07:40 PM
Ask yourself "What if?" Such as "What if the MC did this?" or "What if such-and such took place here?" It might take you on a different road all together, but it'll get those thought processes going again.

01-12-2009, 09:43 PM
Also remember that even if the scene makes or breaks your WIP, getting it wrong in draft 1 does not make or break your WIP.
This is the truth. Really, you're not supposed to put this kind of pressure on yourself at this stage.

As painful as it might be, just slog through it and get the rest of the story down. Don't worry about how inadequate or terrible the scene may have been; just keep going.

I am one of those people who can spend entirely too much time thinking and fretting than actually writing. Seriously, the first step toward figuring out how this scene is supposed to go is getting it down on paper.

When you go back over it in your re-read, something may pop in your head as to how it should go. Every re-working of the scene from here will be more focused and an improvement over the one before it.

Good luck!

01-12-2009, 09:50 PM
I second summarizing the scenes in short outline/synopsis and move on to other scenes. So you can come back and flesh them out later.

Also, ask yourself questions about what your characters' choices and what they could do, then take the less traveled path. That may unclog some things and you may find things can become really interesting, fast.

The Kidd
01-13-2009, 09:20 AM
I really think i'll do that. If I don't I think it will really hurt the flow. I have also decided to re-think the scene and it has helped wonderfully. Something Depaterso said sparked an idea.

Instead of writing a short story for a 'break', what if I write the scene as a short story? Perhaps it won't be so intimidating?

01-13-2009, 09:29 AM
Dont pressure yourself in writing just to go with the deadline.

Laura Lond
01-13-2009, 10:22 AM
Being a "seat-of-the-pants" writer, I often get to this point. Inspired scenes fly easily, and then I don't see clearly enough - or see nothing at all. Planning my story ahead would help so much, but, for the life of me, I just can't do it.

So what to do when you're stuck and unsure? I take a break and work on something else, or skip the difficult part and write another chapter / scene. Sometimes it helps to see the story better and fill in the blanks.

Michael J. Hoag
01-13-2009, 07:20 PM
Let me give you some advice...

1. Write it wrong! Don't just give yourself permission to write it wrong, set out to do some good old BAD writing. It loosens up the inner-critic and gets the pen flowing instantly. Then, once you've got bones, it's easy to dress em up a bit. Sometimes, l I'll actually keep the "bad" stuff that I write because it's outrageous and fun. You could even try parodying yourself. You can learn a lot that way.

2. Throw a wrench in your own story. My feeling is I write to watch my soul grow, not to publish. If I publish, that's just icing. So I NEVER write with the intention of plodding through. I NEED my writing to give me what Buddhists call "wind horse." What you write should help you catch the wind, it should give you energy, not cost you. The metaphor is the sun, which burns its fuel and in the burning makes more fuel. Be like the sun! You know those activities in life that you jump out of bed for? Obviously, what you were writing was doing that, back when it came out easy. So I think your intuition is telling you something about your story. Maybe it's too predictable, who knows, but it's not exciting you any more... Maybe you should listen to your intuition. The painter Jasper Johns said (Paraphrasing here) he'd get to a point in a work, just as he'd planned it and it would have a feeling of stagnation, and then he'd do something "wrong," outrageous and unexpected. That way the work wouldn't proceed so naturally. It gives you a problem to work around, breathes new life into a work that's become stale to you.

3. Start with a big, outrageous sentence. Writing one big outrageous "hook" of a sentence can give the chapter "wind horse" enough to sustain you through to the end.

4. Really look at your writing process, stagnation or boredom is part of everything we do in adult life. You ever watch somebody write? It IS boring! But when you really look, there are all sorts of textures and problems and interesting things in there... Overcoming this challenge of writer's block is one more exciting challenge! Reclaiming the feel that writing is exciting and new, every day, that's an exciting process of self-learning. So, grab that beastie of stagnation by the scrote and run it through with the ol' pen-blade, mighty writing warrior! Write heroically! GaaaaaahhhhH~!

01-13-2009, 08:46 PM
I am passing through a similar problem, but I don't know if it'd qualify as writer's block. When I started visualizing my story, I started with the ending. The climax, to be precise. So in my mind, it developed backwards: The next part I saw was the middle part, and now I'm having trouble with the beginning. It's kinda bothering because my story is the kind of plot that escalates all the way to the events in the final parts, so I'm having trouble imagining a good, interesting beginning.

01-13-2009, 08:57 PM
If you live in the UK, i'd suggest watching Charlie Brooker's screenwipe episode 3. It's only online till early Thursday morning so be quick.

If you don't i'll give you a quick summary of why it is good.

Yes, they are talking about scripts but the writing aspect is the same. These writers don't believe in writer's block per se. Many of them see the first draft as the most difficult thing in the world but after that it gets easier because you have the bare bones of the story and you are then just refining it.

Graham Linehan (writer of Father Ted, IT crowd) says that the first draft is just a bunch of notes and that "writer's block" is your subconscious telling you that something is wrong with the story or the scene. It could just be the way you imagined the scene which is wrong or something further back that is wrong.

01-13-2009, 08:59 PM
So, given that I don't believe writer's block exists...perhaps in my case I'm one of those writers who knows her first drafts need work but don't care?:D

I would have said "...knows her first drafts are crap," but last night thethinker42 said they weren't and she's scary so I best not contradict her. :D

01-14-2009, 12:05 AM
My advice is very small and simple: Get a copy of The Artists Way. Read it. Do an exercise or two.

Writers I know and work with seem to either LOVE it or HATE it - there's no ground in between. But it works for me pretty much every time I hit a wall in any of my creative endeavors - so it's worth a try.

www.murdockediting.com (http://www.murdockediting.com)

01-25-2009, 10:49 AM
I've read on here that a lot of writers slow down when they get to the middle of the book - and I have done it four times!!!

I just kind of write and wonder for about 200 pages and then once I completely work out the ending - I'm done. I just feel like - "blah, I need a new idea."

I force myself to write the ending just to get it down and find myself obsessing over the beginning to get it right or change it entirely. Sometimes I think about combining it with another story.

Four half books sit looking back at me everyday on my computer. I just lose the desire.
I also get all excited about a part of it and then I post on here and no one seems to like what I have written - so I go back and look for a new hook. Post it again and the same reaction.

I'm open for any suggestions.

The Rav
01-25-2009, 08:58 PM
As others have said, just write it in the first draft. You shouldn't edit first drafts until they're done, in my humble lil' opinion. Fix it up in the second draft.

Another option you can use to get your creative juices flowing for the scene is to freewrite. Just write what you know about the scene and how you envision it turning out. Sometimes I've found when I do this my freewrite turns into the scene itself and I just need to copy most of it down. It can be hard sometimes to turn off your inner critic during a first draft, but that critic should be nowhere to be seen in your freewrite.

01-25-2009, 10:21 PM
When I was 'stuck,' it was due to 3 reasons:

1) Absolute laziness
2) Scene was boring as hell to write but had to be written
3) Not sure how exactly the scene should look.

I spent 3 weeks fretting over it and then I spent 3 weeks writing nothing.

When I came back to it, I got it done in 6000 words (thats several scenes, of course). I didn't plan it. It just happened.

So, a small break *may* help.

02-01-2009, 05:04 AM
I sometimes "block up" when I get towards the end of a book, too, especially if I'm really enjoying it, don't have another project in mind for immediately afterwards, and so don't want it to end.

For me, it's helped to write poetry or a short story for a bit, maybe do some revision chores on other works, while letting the story at hand fester in my mind, until I'm truly tired of it and ready to get it outta there by writing it, for real this time! (Sometimes I spend time at AW when I'm in that mode. Yeah, I'm in one right now.)

I also second / third / fourth the notion that if you write it and it sucks, c'mon, it's just a first draft. You'll have plenty of time to mess with it later, make it better. It'll even be fun. I love revising pivotal scenes most of all.


02-01-2009, 05:34 AM
If you can't get through the whole thing, just write a synopsis. Get down as much info as you can to include how you'd like the chapter to end, then go on to the next one. You can then return to that chapter at a later date. :)