Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Lethal Dose of Writer's Block

I have been having fun writing the alphabetical posts this month, but seriously am struggling with my new novel.  I over-designed it.  I wrote down details of characters, timelines, opening lines for all the chapters, and even drew a map and a family tree.  I know exactly how my characters think, what they will do, and how they will do it. 

Now I am paralyzed.  I can see the whole story all the way through from beginning to end in my mind.  But my mind is fighting writing it down on paper. 

So I cleaned.

And I cleaned some more. 

I think polishing my kitchen cabinets this afternoon may be what I need to suddenly feel like I have control of my life and somehow have control of the words that are locked inside of me. 

I wonder if men clean when they are stuck.

My plan for tonight is to vacate my home and go to the coffee shop.  I will sit at my lucky table with a too large cup of very expensive coffee.  I will write two chapters.  I may end up throwing them away later, but I think the only way to get over this is to clean and to write.

I used to design and develop software and web applications. When I did this kind of detailed design for applications, I immediately handed the design off to someone else to do the coding - to write the words that made it work.  Design is a very creative process, but is sort of antithetical to writing. Design is logical. It is creative, but it builds a very firm structure. Structure and boundaries inhibit further creativity. 

I wish I had just jotted down my ideas and character names.  That is what I normally do, then I dive right in.  I think I really came up with a good story, but may have sucked the fun right out of it for myself. 

I must be positive.  I must believe all the forethought I put into the story will make a better in the end.  I must fight the urge to give it to someone else to write.  I think being positive is the thing to do.  I will be positive until I convince myself I can write it today.


  1. I'm that way--I mean, just jotting a few ideas down. I can't plan the whole thing or I feel like I already wrote it.

    Maybe it will help if you know that things CAN change. I don't know about your characters, but when I do plan out something, they usually say, "Guess what we decided to do instead?" by the time I get there. So there is still potential for your characters to do what you least expect.

    Good luck!

  2. What if you take your characters out of the story for a minute and plunk them down somewhere else and let them play for a bit and write about that. Nothing as absurdly fun as seedy hookers in space or Elven lords on the Underground. Then maybe they will be better behaved when you return them to their rightful surroundings and the writing will flow.

  3. Great ideas! I think I could write about Elven lords in space.

    I am feeling much more positive about it now. I am going to be a Jedi and use the Force to write tonight - whatever pops out, even if it's not what I planned - will be fine. I will reward myself with a giant cookie.

    BTW, J is for Jedi - how did I miss that?

  4. One page, one chapter at a time. I find breaking it into smaller chunks helps me focus and write. If I look at the whole thing all at once, it definitely intimidats me.

    Keep at it, you'll get there.

  5. I never plan ahead. I usually just write the first chapter and then I start a little plan. But then, one of my characters take over and when that doesn't happen my brain has like terret's syndrome or somehting and farts out stuff.

  6. Thank you all for the suggestions!

    I didn't make it out of my house. I sent the younger kids out with their dad to have some fun. My daughter was going to go with me, but said, "In a minute" for a solid hour until I said, "Nevermind." I sat there in the living room in a comfy chair and did it! Just as I got near the end of the second chapter, my toddler came barreling in and told me he would help me.

    Chaos ensued until I was able to hide away and finish the second chapter. I did deviate from my plan just a little, but I like what I wrote. Yeah!