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View Full Version : If the writing is hard, are you doing it wrong?



Cranky
05-10-2008, 07:37 AM
This is something I've been thinking about re: my currrent WIP.

I am not bored, I don't hate the book (even though I joke that I do), but it's really damn hard to get it written. I'm struggling with my word choices. I nitpick every piece of imagery, every sense that my character is using and how I'm trying to portray it.

It's really, really hard. So, I'm wondering...do you think this is a sign of a flaw in my story (POV, tense, etc.), or maybe I'm just trying to write a story that's just beyond my capabilities at the moment?

Also, if this has happened to anyone else, what did you do? How did you handle it?

Could really use some advice here, before I completely crap out on this one...

Danger Jane
05-10-2008, 08:01 AM
For me, it's sometimes that I'm doing it wrong. Time to change POVs or rethink the plot, or something.

Sometimes it's just me. It's then that I need to either buckle down and get some good BIC time to power through it, or maybe take a break. If a story isn't clicking with me emotionally, sometimes I just can't write it for a while.

SPMiller
05-10-2008, 08:08 AM
Could it really be as simple as POV/tense? Maybe. Pick a scene and rewrite it. See how it turns out.

Although my novel is currently set aside, I'm having the same problem with one of my longer short stories. I'm having trouble infusing the story with the emotion I feel. I never thought I'd work so hard on a measly 4K words. Nothing feels right; everything is awkward or trite. Every single sentence is a fight. And, you know, it could be that I'm stubbornly trying to improve my third-past writing...

But I refuse to admit that I suck at third-past, even if it's going to give me ulcers.

MelodyO
05-10-2008, 08:12 AM
I've dealt with this many times myself. I have three bits of advice for you, which are the only things that worked for me.

1. Know in advance each of your character's motivations in the scene you're working on. Decide how everybody feels both publicly and privately about what's going on.

2. Think about your scene when you're not writing: in the shower, in bed at night, while driving. Keep an eye/ear out for sensory details from real life. Sit down to write with at least a couple of lines or ideas to help you through. Conversely, if a scene is killing you - stop thinking about it for a while. Completely. It's like finding love...you have better luck if you aren't too desperate. :D

3. PUT DOWN THAT THESAURUS. Use "big" and and "ran" and "shouted" for now. You'll have lots of time to find exactly the right, perfect, exquisite, heart-rending word - in your second draft.

Good luck, my dear. I'm rooting for you!

czjaba
05-10-2008, 08:40 AM
I am on my 3rd WIP and have been through the same thing with the first 2. Now, I'm doing my 2nd revision, and I believe my plot is solid because that's the way I did the first draft. I wrote for plot and character personalities. Now, I'm fixing links. But, it is sooo hard for my focus to stay on that story and I believe it's because I already know what happens. My 1st WIP is on hold, my 2nd made it to the polishing stage before I just stopped, but this one started out on a better level (I'll explain what I mean later) than the first 2. This one started out with characters and what they did. I write MG, so my characters are a bunch of sneaky kids with totally different backgrounds. So, I'm trying NOT to go over and over the same scene too many times. I look at it each time for something different. And I keep adding. Since I know my characters so well now, I can easily go back to the first chapter and add dialogue in that character's voice.

And what I meant by totally different level is that I can tell that my writing is improving with each step. I feel like I might be actually getting somewhere with this one.

I say keep on trying your best. You may need to take a break from this WIP and come back to it later when it will have a 'fresh' feel. I know if I am too familiar with a story, I read words that aren't really there and interpret meanings for what I (the writer) want them to mean.

Cranky
05-10-2008, 08:41 AM
For me, it's sometimes that I'm doing it wrong. Time to change POVs or rethink the plot, or something.

Sometimes it's just me. It's then that I need to either buckle down and get some good BIC time to power through it, or maybe take a break. If a story isn't clicking with me emotionally, sometimes I just can't write it for a while.

I'm still torn on whether or not it's me, or if it's the story. Might try changing the POV (as SP suggested as well) or the tense and see what happens.

I know that if it's an emotional thing, it's because I'm empathizing too much, rather than not enough. I am in his POV (first person present tense) and I need to empathize with him to tell the story properly. But maybe I need a bit of distance, too. Hmmm. Maybe I should try switching over to the other MC (sort of the antagonist) for a few scenes and see what happens there, too.

Thanks!

Cranky
05-10-2008, 08:43 AM
Could it really be as simple as POV/tense? Maybe. Pick a scene and rewrite it. See how it turns out.

Although my novel is currently set aside, I'm having the same problem with one of my longer short stories. I'm having trouble infusing the story with the emotion I feel. I never thought I'd work so hard on a measly 4K words. Nothing feels right; everything is awkward or trite. Every single sentence is a fight. And, you know, it could be that I'm stubbornly trying to improve my third-past writing...

But I refuse to admit that I suck at third-past, even if it's going to give me ulcers.

:D

I might just suck heartily at first person present tense, too! LOL I think that first person is going to be important for the story to achieve what I want it to achieve, but...I might be able to do that equally as well from past tense, too. Good luck with your piece, too!

Dratted things. LOL!

Cranky
05-10-2008, 08:46 AM
I've dealt with this many times myself. I have three bits of advice for you, which are the only things that worked for me.

1. Know in advance each of your character's motivations in the scene you're working on. Decide how everybody feels both publicly and privately about what's going on.

2. Think about your scene when you're not writing: in the shower, in bed at night, while driving. Keep an eye/ear out for sensory details from real life. Sit down to write with at least a couple of lines or ideas to help you through. Conversely, if a scene is killing you - stop thinking about it for a while. Completely. It's like finding love...you have better luck if you aren't too desperate. :D

3. PUT DOWN THAT THESAURUS. Use "big" and and "ran" and "shouted" for now. You'll have lots of time to find exactly the right, perfect, exquisite, heart-rending word - in your second draft.

Good luck, my dear. I'm rooting for you!

Hee. Thanks, Melody. Some good stuff there. In my own defense, when I say that I'm struggling for word choice, it isn't necessarily the two dollar words I'm looking for, but exactly the right one. It's hard, because this character views the world SO differently from the way I do that I'm constantly questioning if I've gotten it right. Still...I think you're right. Maybe go with what comes to mind right away, even if it's not what I'm looking for, and deal with it in revision.

Provided I even get there! :eek:

Cranky
05-10-2008, 08:49 AM
I am on my 3rd WIP and have been through the same thing with the first 2. Now, I'm doing my 2nd revision, and I believe my plot is solid because that's the way I did the first draft. I wrote for plot and character personalities. Now, I'm fixing links. But, it is sooo hard for my focus to stay on that story and I believe it's because I already know what happens. My 1st WIP is on hold, my 2nd made it to the polishing stage before I just stopped, but this one started out on a better level (I'll explain what I mean later) than the first 2. This one started out with characters and what they did. I write MG, so my characters are a bunch of sneaky kids with totally different backgrounds. So, I'm trying NOT to go over and over the same scene too many times. I look at it each time for something different. And I keep adding. Since I know my characters so well now, I can easily go back to the first chapter and add dialogue in that character's voice.

And what I meant by totally different level is that I can tell that my writing is improving with each step. I feel like I might be actually getting somewhere with this one.

I say keep on trying your best. You may need to take a break from this WIP and come back to it later when it will have a 'fresh' feel. I know if I am too familiar with a story, I read words that aren't really there and interpret meanings for what I (the writer) want them to mean.

Okay, one day I SWEAR I'll figure out how to do this multi-quote thing, but until then...please forgive my multiple in-a-row posts! :D

I think I know what you mean about being able to tell the writing is improved. I can see the difference between this current WIP and the stuff I was working on a year ago. The difference is pretty startling, at least to me.

Maybe I should just quit being so hard on myself, lol. Thanks!

SPMiller
05-10-2008, 09:11 AM
:D

I might just suck heartily at first person present tense, too! LOL I think that first person is going to be important for the story to achieve what I want it to achieve, but...I might be able to do that equally as well from past tense, too. Good luck with your piece, too!

Dratted things. LOL!
First-present is where I'm most comfortable. Maybe we can trade skills for a few days?

Cranky
05-10-2008, 09:33 AM
If only we could, yeah? That would be awesome.

Hmmmm....*brain starts whirring*

scottVee
05-10-2008, 10:48 AM
Re: the original post -- it sounds like you're making all kinds of obstacles for yourself. If you're nitpicking the grammar, then you're stopping any kind of creative flow. Stop doing that. Be brave. Get into the scene and let the words out. You can always go back and fix them later. You can't get every detail right the first time, and trying to do so is a huge roadblock.

The comments on doing more planning may apply. But if it's grammar & trivial hangups, then part of you has got a foot on the brakes.

Kalyke
05-10-2008, 02:21 PM
I also stop and try to put out a finished product in the first pass through. The 1st draft is often up to 25% shorter than the finished piece. I do first drafts of sections, then go back and do a third or fouth re-write of a section, when what I should do is do a first draft of the complete work. The first draft tells your story all the way through. It is the foundation, and the structure that the rest of the writing is overlayed on. It does not need to be fine, finished work. That is why you hear about how often a book is "re-written" before publication. Before computers, the book was literally "re-written" whith each pass through refining the project. Now, with computers, you can noodle around with the text right there on the screen, and it actually harms the output. If you work on the work you are processing as read-only, believe me, you get the work out sooner. Try it out. Tell yourself that you can't touch it until you have X amount of pages done (I use 100 double spaced pages as a good number). At 5 pages per day that is 10 days work. So you can't go in and touch the text for 10 days. (you can "insert" new ideas though, but don't take all day about it).

Shweta
05-10-2008, 03:06 PM
Sometimes I'm doing it wrong.
Sometimes I'm doing it right and learning how to as I go along, and it's hard because I'm improving and noticing issues I'd blithely had all along.

I'm not sure you can tell till after. At least, I can't. That's part of why I *heart* short stories.

Linda Adams
05-10-2008, 04:43 PM
It's really, really hard. So, I'm wondering...do you think this is a sign of a flaw in my story (POV, tense, etc.), or maybe I'm just trying to write a story that's just beyond my capabilities at the moment?


Both have happened to me. My first novel was really pretty beyond the skills I had at the time. In hindsight, I should have just blown through it and finished, but instead I rewrote it and rewrote and rewrote, trying to figure out what was wrong. That particular book I never did finish because it ultimately carried too much baggage.

On my latest one, it started out as very hard to write. I had a lot of false starts and the nagging sense that the problem was the POV. I kept going back and forth between third and first, but I wasn't coming up with good reasons to use either one. There was a free workshop on viewpoint around that time, so I took and used the opening scene from the book. It did answer the question--I was using the wrong viewpoint. I needed omniscient for the story.

Phaeal
05-10-2008, 05:20 PM
Sounds like your Inner Editor has his hands locked tight around your throat. You can't breathe. You need to wrench free, head-butt him into the closet, and take a nice long walk.

When you return to the keyboard, write as fast as you can. Free-write if you have to, throwing in remarks to yourself, nonsense sentences, imprecations against the universe. The great thing about free-writing is that IT DOESN'T MATTER, IT'S NOT THE REAL STORY, JUST THE WRITER THINKING ON PAPER OR SCREEN. Do it, follow tangents, argue with the characters. What I come up with every time I do this to break blockage is a crazy rough outline for fixing the story.

Celia Cyanide
05-10-2008, 05:32 PM
Hmmmm...I've always felt that if writing is hard, I'm doing it RIGHT!! I took a community ed course in writing a while back, and I wrote one page assignments that were simple for me, and everyone in the class was impressed. But I wasn't moving outside my comfort level or making any progress. Just my opinion!

HeronW
05-10-2008, 05:56 PM
Tell your inner editor to go play in traffic then write anything and everything. You're never wasting words, you're spreading fertilizer, water, light, care and weeding after.

nevada
05-10-2008, 06:00 PM
What is this unspoken understanding that writing is supposed to be easy? That it should flow like water over Niagara Falls and you should write 150,000 words in two months, no problem. Who said, "Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed on the paper" (something like that).

Like anything else, good writing takes effort. Effort is hard. Just because some people make it "look" easy, doesn't mean it is. Writing, good writing, is hard. To find just the right word, not a "you'll do" word but the right word, to get across just the exact detail that is needed for the reader's understanding, to show the character's quirks and habits without ever telling, is hard. It takes concentrated effort. And anything that takes effort is hard. I've been a carpenter for 7 years. I am damn good at my job. But you know what? It's still hard. I still have to pay attention to what I do. I can't zone out when I'm making a fireplace mantel or it looks like crap.

Anyone can write 100,000 words, easy. But in my experience, the writers that say "oh it was easy. I was in the zone, I wrote 10,000 words last week" are settling. Their words lay flat on the page, convey nothing, the ideas are pedestrian, and the images are weak. So celebrate that it is hard. It means that you are thinking, it means that you are not settling, that only the best will do for you.

MelodyO
05-10-2008, 06:14 PM
What is this unspoken understanding that writing is supposed to be easy? That it should flow like water over Niagara Falls and you should write 150,000 words in two months, no problem. Who said, "Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed on the paper" (something like that).



Wow, what a great comment! You're so right. I have to admit, I see many AWers talking about their massive words counts, and I feel terrible that I struggle through a few hundred (sometimes a few dozen, OMG) words a day. But you know what? My second drafts are a pleasure. I never have to change the structure or plot of the whole book because I took so much care with it the first time around. Although I do think it's a problem when you suffer over one word or sentence for days at a time. I've, um, heard. ::blushes::

PS Nevada, did you enjoy our snow yesterday?! Man, if it snows one more time I'm going to smack David Spence so hard. :D

Toothpaste
05-10-2008, 06:19 PM
I'm with Nevada. In fact some of the writing that I've done that has been the hardest has also turned out to be the best. My last book was a grind from start to finish, and now I really love it. Most writers I talk to find that most of the time, writing is just a lot of hard work. That it is truly rare to have those moments of inspiration where it just flows easily.

It's hard because it's meant to be.

ETA: I'm not just speculating here, I have been very fortunate with my book to have met some truly big name authors, and it is almost universally acknowledged by even the greats, that writing is just darn hard. I know one rather famous author who actually claims to hate writing.

Cranky
05-10-2008, 07:47 PM
Wow. Thanks, guys! Some really good food for thought here. Might not hurt to see if there is something mechanical wrong, but I probably shouldn't get too hung up on it.

:)

mscelina
05-10-2008, 07:55 PM
pssssssssssst! Cranky! You're thinking WAY too much.

When I write first drafts, I just WRITE it. I don't think about all those dialogue tags and adverbs I'm going to cut out later. "She hissed furiously" can turn into action later to replace the tag/adverb. *shrug* It gives me a signpost as to how the character is thinking. I'd be willing to bet that if you took a look at your manuscript, you'd find lots of signposts in there to tell you how your character is thinking too.

Worry about 'good' in rewrites. Worry about story on paper right now.

Cranky
05-10-2008, 08:02 PM
pssssssssssst! Cranky! You're thinking WAY too much.

When I write first drafts, I just WRITE it. I don't think about all those dialogue tags and adverbs I'm going to cut out later. "She hissed furiously" can turn into action later to replace the tag/adverb. *shrug* It gives me a signpost as to how the character is thinking. I'd be willing to bet that if you took a look at your manuscript, you'd find lots of signposts in there to tell you how your character is thinking too.

Worry about 'good' in rewrites. Worry about story on paper right now.


Probably not, since I'm already cutting them out ruthlessly the moment they appear. *blushes* One of my older pieces had them sprinkled all over every page, and when I looked back and found them, I almost puked. I cut almost every single one, and now I watch like hawk, lol. In fact, I started to do that in the place where I left off. I started to write something like, "He was afraid." and I immediately backspaced and wrote, "His hands shook under the stream of water pouring from the old fashioned spigot." Or something like that, anyway. I cut the tell, and added a little more to my setting, all in one swoop! I was so proud. :roll:

But I'd agree that I might be thinking just a little too hard about it.

Will Lavender
05-10-2008, 08:42 PM
Really interesting thread.

For me personally, if the writing is hard then something is wrong. Everything I have ever done that's worth a poo -- everything -- has been easy* to write. If the writing is a slog, that means it's either time to quit the project altogether or reevaluate the story.

What helps me is reading. If I'm reading quite a bit, that makes the work so much easier. If I'm not reading (too busy; can't stay focused; etc.), then I really have trouble with my own work.

* No writing is truly "easy." What I mean is that the words come out smoothly and I don't have to wrestle with each scene as I'm writing.

ishtar'sgate
05-10-2008, 09:37 PM
Writing is hard work and it's not always going to come easy. It's great when it does but I think most of us have to sweat bullets to get it the way we want it. Even then the vision often surpasses the concrete and words on paper just don't do justice to our imagination.
Perhaps just walk away from it for a little while. Sometimes we get to a point where we're writing with something I refer to as clenched teeth because that's what it feels like to me when I do it. I'm trying too hard and getting frustrated and need to leave it alone for a week or so. It gives me time to loosen up and come back to the work refreshed and positive. You might try that and see if it works for you.
Linnea

Dawnstorm
05-10-2008, 09:41 PM
In my own defense, when I say that I'm struggling for word choice, it isn't necessarily the two dollar words I'm looking for, but exactly the right one. It's hard, because this character views the world SO differently from the way I do that I'm constantly questioning if I've gotten it right.

You might have your answer right there. In my own WiP I have a set of characters I struggle to get across; their scenes are the hardest to write.

If you're trying to get across an alien PoV, you're doing it wrong if it's easy.

Danger Jane
05-10-2008, 10:11 PM
I'm still torn on whether or not it's me, or if it's the story. Might try changing the POV (as SP suggested as well) or the tense and see what happens.

I know that if it's an emotional thing, it's because I'm empathizing too much, rather than not enough. I am in his POV (first person present tense) and I need to empathize with him to tell the story properly. But maybe I need a bit of distance, too. Hmmm. Maybe I should try switching over to the other MC (sort of the antagonist) for a few scenes and see what happens there, too.

Thanks!

Yea, probably if you feel too close to your MC, switching POVs might be just the thing. I guess if that doesn't work, your closeness was good...it can be tough to maintain, though. I feel ya :(

Cranky
05-10-2008, 10:47 PM
Where's the magic feather, right? LOL

Soccer Mom
05-10-2008, 10:54 PM
Some projects are harder than others. If you are finding this project difficult, set your daily goals small. 500 words a day. And maybe intersperse the hard with a type of writing that you find fun and easy as a reward.

Cranky
05-10-2008, 10:58 PM
Hmm. Not a bad idea, either. Thanks!

Shweta
05-11-2008, 01:01 AM
So I think I see two different sets of ideas/goals/methods coming out in this thread.

1) Just write. You can always fix it later. If you're thinking too hard you're probably doing it wrong. Nothing is ever wasted. If the novel is too hard for you, do it anyway, and you can fix it later; you learn to write it by writing.

2) Writing well is hard. If you're just blowing words out, you're probably doing it wrong. If it's really hard you might well be creating something fantastic. The good thing about slow writing is that the next draft is often much nicer to handle.

I've seen these two approaches more generally. Group 1 is what I call "oil-painting" types (You have to get the paint down before you can do anything interesting with it, and if it's wrong just let it dry and paint over it. Group 2 is what I call "watercolor" types. (The painting only comes down right if you know what you're doing and put down relatively slow and careful layers that build up).

I am more in group 2. Just putting words down leaves me with a blur that I pretty much have to rewrite from scratch, and my characters are flat and wrong. It puts me off editing. Editing as I go and writing slowly seems to be the way for me. But it seems destructive to my writing group members who are group 1.

So... I think the answer depends on you, Cranky. It sounds to me like you're doing it right, but if it's making you unhappy with it perhaps you're not...

Soccer Mom
05-11-2008, 01:12 AM
To continue with what Shweta said, how I write depends on what I'm writing. When I write novels, I write quickly. I can write a novel in two months and then spend the next four polishing it. I find that if I don't write quickly, I lose the momentum and the train of thought that keeps the novel a coherent work.

When I write short stories and flash fiction, I write very slowly and choose each word with the utmost care. Each word, sentence, paragraph is crafted with the utmost care. The are different animals for me.

lkp
05-11-2008, 01:13 AM
Writing may be hard because you're doing something wrong.

BUT it also might be hard because you're doing something right. You might be at the point of really taking your writing skills up a notch or two, and you're struggling to reach this new level. Some of what you say --- nitpicks with grammar --- make it sound like you're becoming aware of language and how it works in new way, which is a good thing. My second novel is going much more slowly than my first. But I can tell that what I am writing now is a higher order.

Cranky
05-11-2008, 01:13 AM
I think you've boiled it down to the essence pretty well there, Shweta. I'm also sure that you are correct in that the answer depends on me. Since the process isn't making me unhappy (but rather simply frustrates me at times), I think I'll lean towards group number two myself.

That I am "doing it right", at least for me. The trick is to not get caught up in second-guessing. It undermines my confidence, and saps the soul from the story. This isn't to say that there aren't things I shouldn't be aware of, or try if I am, in fact, stuck.

Shweta
05-11-2008, 01:17 AM
The trick is to not get caught up in second-guessing. It undermines my confidence, and saps the soul from the story. This isn't to say that there aren't things I shouldn't be aware of, or try if I am, in fact, stuck.

For the record, I have the same problem. I write slowly (500 words a day is a reasonable to high goal for me) and I often wonder if I'm doing something wrong when other people talk about the 50 000 words they wrote yesterday :D
Maybe we need to start a slow'nsteady support group :)

Cranky
05-11-2008, 01:20 AM
To continue with what Shweta said, how I write depends on what I'm writing. When I write novels, I write quickly. I can write a novel in two months and then spend the next four polishing it. I find that if I don't write quickly, I lose the momentum and the train of thought that keeps the novel a coherent work.

When I write short stories and flash fiction, I write very slowly and choose each word with the utmost care. Each word, sentence, paragraph is crafted with the utmost care. The are different animals for me.

That's very interesting to me, because I find that I am almost the polar opposite. Short stories and flash fiction come to me very quickly and with very little effort. I certainly do go back for a quick polish (because nothing is ever perfect the first time, in my view), but the essence of what I'm trying to say is pretty much set.

With writing a novel, it's a much more protracted process, and not simply because it's longer. Mostly because there is so much room to manuever, and so many possible subplots to be explored, deeper and more complex characters (for me!), that it's easy for me to lose track of the forest and see only the trees. I have to work much harder for it to be cohesive and for all the threads to compliment each other in a way that makes the story what it should be...not necessarily better, but makes it whole.

Gah. I sound so silly and navel-gazing with that, but there you have it. I'm not trying to sound like an asshat here, but that's really how I feel about it. *blushes*

Shweta
05-11-2008, 01:28 AM
That's very interesting to me, because I find that I am almost the polar opposite. Short stories and flash fiction come to me very quickly and with very little effort. I certainly do go back for a quick polish (because nothing is ever perfect the first time, in my view), but the essence of what I'm trying to say is pretty much set.
I'm actually sort of like that with flash fiction and/or prose poetry too, but not with anything that has serious character development. If it's sort of a whole in my head I write quite fast. Otherwise... I guess there's a hole in my head :D I have to feel my way along the path, then.


Mostly because there is so much room to manuever, and so many possible subplots to be explored, deeper and more complex characters (for me!), that it's easy for me to lose track of the forest and see only the trees.
Ditto.

Soccer Mom
05-11-2008, 01:44 AM
Then you aren't doing it wrong. :) See, we all work differently. If slow and painstaking is what works for you, don't fight it. Just allow yourself to work at that pace.

:D But do reward yourself.

Cranky
05-11-2008, 02:13 AM
Kinda like a diet, eh? Not a bad plan, lol! I get a slice of cheesecake for every chapter finished! :D

Soccer Mom
05-11-2008, 02:32 AM
Kinda like a diet, eh? Not a bad plan, lol! I get a slice of cheesecake for every chapter finished! :D

Yeah! Man, I want on the cheesecake diet too!

SPMiller
05-11-2008, 02:36 AM
Might want to put a minimum-word-limit on those chapters. I know I'd be tempted to cheat...

/channels Faulkner


My mother is a fish.
Cheesecake time!

Soccer Mom
05-11-2008, 03:20 AM
Might want to put a minimum-word-limit on those chapters. I know I'd be tempted to cheat...

/channels Faulkner


Cheesecake time!

James Patterson? :ROFL:

tonyrocks922
05-12-2008, 07:23 PM
Who said, "Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed on the paper" (something like that).


I think the quote is "Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead."

The point of the quote is that writing is not easy.

Momento Mori
05-12-2008, 08:16 PM
With sincere apologies for the metaphor, I'm one of those people who sometimes suffer from writing constipation in that I really, really want to get those words on the page, but the little sods just won't come out of my head.

For me, the Exlax is to sketch out what information I have to include in the scene and then plan it as a writing exercise (e.g. I tell myself that I have to write a scene involving 2 characters, who talk about x, reveal y and finish on z). When I get to the next scene, I take the same approach and so on until hopefully I finish the damn thing.

I have tried to the 'just write it down and worry about it later' approach, but my head does not work that way. I think it's because I'm a very structured, ordered person in my 'normal' life, which translates into the way I approach my writing. As a result, I'm constantly at war with my inner editor and have to remind myself that the goal isn't to get a perfect first draft (because it's highly unprobable) but to get to something that does the job on a first reading and which I can come back to and hack away at on revisions.

I'm insanely jealous of people who manage to do thousands of words each day (on a really, really good day I'll manage a couple of thousand but usually it's a few hundred) and tell myself that it's okay to hate them. ;)

MM