Writer’s Block of Ice Breaks Up!

Thank you, everyone, for your support during a dry spell, for encouraging, and listening, and understanding this fragile writer.

I’ve learned some things, and I want to pass that on, so let’s talk process.

It goes like this:

I begin a novel. Oh, the golden glory and silver slide of words from mind to finger to page.

I’m half-way through the eighth version of the ‘first draft’. Oh, crap. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve been a fraud all along. Other writers deserve all the publicity and prizes. I am rightly ignored. I must, for the sake of my sanity, abandon not only this novel but all writing.

But my sanity depends on writing. Crap.

I despair. Okay, maybe I should abandon not only all writing but all dreams of writing. I will garden. Cook. Read. It’s enough.

But no, it’s not.

I get pissed off. I hate the present publishing landscape. It’s all celebrity and politics. I slump. Darkness. Fog. Abandonment. A struggle to breathe. (This is when those of us who are prone to addiction issues are most at risk.)

I talk and talk and talk and talk (boring everyone who listens) and dream and dream and dream and dream. All to naught. This is a phase that has, for me, taken anywhere from several weeks to several years. Just saying.

I gain weight or lose it. I can’t sleep or I sleep all day.

Then, I have a conversation with a listening friend (in my case with Susan Applewhaite), or I take a walk or a shower or play with the dog, or …. well, something….

And then, I remember what I told my students:

When there is a moment in the plot to which you have committed…  let’s say the protagonist goes to a party, and suddenly you can’t figure out a way to get the protagonist to open the door to the party…. well…. perhaps the protagonist shouldn’t be there.

Really, you say? But I was so sure! It’s what I did in the outline! It must work this way.

Which is why I don’t do outlines. Sometimes the protagonist not only shouldn’t be able to open the door, but she shouldn’t have been invited to the party to begin with.

With the help of a dear, creative friend, I backed out of the plot until I found the moment when I understood what the divergent moment was. I regrouped.

And yes… I wrote. It may not be good. It may not be published. But after months of struggling, at least it feels right.

That’s the trail of breadcrumbs writers follow through the dark wood. God help us.

Have you been there? Can you relate? Tell me how you worked your way out

 

 

8 Comments

  1. Susan Applewhaite on October 10, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    You did all the work.
    I’m at the ” try again ” stage of the Beckett quote, aspiring to ” fail again”.

    • Lauren B. Davis on October 11, 2018 at 8:34 am

      I think that’s where we live most of the time. I know there’s a chair bearing a plaque with my name on it next to yours. xo

  2. Craig McKay Sr. on October 17, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    I’m encouraged….

    • Lauren B. Davis on October 17, 2018 at 10:30 pm

      We encourage each other.

  3. Charlene on October 20, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    I have been to that point of not knowing how to move a character forward to the way I think she should go, and I’ve given up – thinking I just am not good enough at writing. Thank you, Lauren, for shedding light on how you worked through this process!

    • Lauren B. Davis on October 20, 2018 at 12:12 pm

      It’s an awful place to be, Charlene, but I swear it’s not about being good enough. It’s always about a plot woofy! Back out until it feel right again and then let what you know about the character lead you to the next right thing!

  4. Deborah Roggie on October 20, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    This happens to me, too. I get bogged down in one scene and I can’t move forward for days…weeks…longer–then I realize that maybe my protagonist should have made a different decision two scenes back, or that I’m telling the story from the wrong point of view, or the events are happening in the wrong place.

    It’s not a failure of will, but a story problem, that’s been holding me up. The story itself is telling me I’ve gone wrong and won’t budge until I fix the problem.

    I wish I knew how to identify this before I spend weeks in the muck going nowhere. If I’m in the same scene for a week, an alarm should go off in my head, shouting, LOOK FOR THE STORY PROBLEM! But no, I fret and procrastinate and call myself names for my lack of productivity. It seems I have to learn this lesson again and again.

    • Lauren B. Davis on October 20, 2018 at 4:01 pm

      You got it, Debbie. Why do we never learn? This is my 9th book, and still, still… I spent a long time knocking my head against that inappropriate door.

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