Friday, October 17, 2014

Too Many Showers and Not Enough Writing

While in the shower I realized my hero committed to jogging daily with her friend, and she never breaks a sweat again in the story. Note to self: Revise jogging scene. Maybe the two girls could go to the bar and tip back some tequila shooters. 

Scratch that. 

Readers will kill me on Amazon. 

Better idea: Have hero come back from the run only to throw up on her friend's shoes. Hence, no more jogging invitations. Besides, jogging is so passe. 

Wait! There are Segways! Modern. Intriguing. No sweating. No throwing up. No struggle. No Segways. 


But jogging is a chestnut, no doubt about it. Let's see, the two characters have talked in quite a few situations: over coffee, at a restaurant, while drinking wine, and they've even done some crying in a closet. 

What's left? 

I'm feeling a little sweaty. My heart is bruising my ribs. I have a potassium tablet stuck in my throat. 
Could this be writer's block? 

Is this what happens when one idea is so married to my brain that only a divorce decree can free me?

But I don't believe in writer's block. I'm going to sit here until my characters find something else to do under my brilliant dialogue that represents and precipitates change.

Possible ideas:

1. Dance the polka? (The band is too loud for meaningful dialogue.)

2. Shop for flip flops? (Really? Flip flops are an impulse buy.)

3. Make clover chains in a meadow? (No meadows, sorry.)

4. Trim each other's bangs? (Real friends would never.)

5. Fish from a pier? (Ew.)

6. Paint a room? (The fumes!)

But something has to happen outside of the character's head to bring an outer and inner change. Yes, the dialogue does that, but in the original scene my hero's lack of physicality makes her more open to romance with a man she considers "older."

I'm heading back to the shower. Where else?

Writer's block is a convenient excuse for an art that is incredibly...

Incredibly what? Do you believe in writer's block? How do you combat the beast?


Forest Wells said...

Oh I suffer from writer's block on a regular basis. It's very real, and can be very hard to cure.

Try some miss-mash of the following things I've done. One is bound to work... somehow.

Ask yourself exactly what this scene is supposed to do. What do you need out of this conversation? Build from there.

Try writing it from another angle, however bad it may seam in your head. Sometimes the story uses it and develops a better idea.

Try re-writing the lead-up to that moment/event. Not necessarily a different one. Just write it again to start. Then, when a different choice/road/option pops up, run with it! It might lead to the right path.

Do nothing! Let it simmer for a few days. Don't forget, just don't actively think on it. Let the mind wander.

Hope one of those helps. Now, for my own writer's block.

*Takes a brick, tosses it against the wall. It explodes in a puff of smoke, but does no damage."

I feel better.

Patti Hill said...

Forest, thanks so much! These are proactive things even I can do. I heard Sting interviewed on NPR about his writer's block. He finally broke free when he stopped writing in his own voice. He chose to write in the voice of someone else with empathy. That's a song writer's experience. Could this apply to fiction? Hmm.

Janny said...

I don't believe in writer's block. I think it's a term for self-editing too soon--as you notice, when you're mulling, too often you're telling yourself, "I can't do that because________." Ergo, you're editing something before it's even on the page, so to speak. No wonder you're feeling stuck!

There are a couple of keys, I think, to getting unblocked:

1. Having a synopsis or an outline helps. If you're stuck in one scene, write something that gets your people to the next "milepost." Just anything that gets them there will do. You can fix it later. (Although truth be told, sometimes this approach of "just put something there" results in really great stuff!)

2. Rewriting the previous scene in another character's POV. Often when you're blocked, it's because you need to be in someone else's head, only you haven't figured that out yet. I've had this work, and heard of other writers having it work, too often not to recommend it. :-)

Other than that, I refuse to acknowledge writers' block...and it usually goes away pretty fast when I don't feed it.


Megan Sayer said...

Jogging isn't passe, it's awesome fun! (okay, I do know what you mean). walking is great, and gardening, and gyms, and...breastfeeding...but that kind of adds a whole new element to the story ;)
Back to writer's block. Sometimes it IS a struggle. I got through some difficult patches by - as Janny said above - writing a scene from another character's POV, and even in third person. My latest technique technique has been to open up a new document and write all kinds of crap about the scene, the people, change my mind half a dozen times, contradict myself a few times, and through it eventually often I end up with a thread I can use.

Oh, and flip flops? Did you know that in Edmonton, Canada, which is the Northern-most city in the entire North American continent, has a FLIP FLOP SHOP!??!!! They sell flip flops, mostly, and small amounts of beach wear. Did I mention it's thousands of kilometres inland? And it SNOWS a ton?
(No, that doesn't have anything to do with writer's block, but gee it's funny! And gives you something to smile about when everything's annoying, too!)

Patti Hill said...

Janny: Our readers are brilliant! I am guilty of editing as I go, but if I don't, I go CRAZY. Sure, I'll take several passes at the manuscript before my beta readers get a peep, but I tidy up the previous day's pages before plugging ahead. You have to do what works, I guess.

I do work from an outline, synopsis, and each scene must move the story ahead. Sometimes...[pulling hair]

Megan: Flip flops or writer's block? Your suggestions are also brilliant, of course, but flip flops in Edmonton? I was just in San Clemente doing some "research." Rainbow Sandals started there, basically a flip flop shop but upper end. You can buy winter flip flops that are lined with shearing. I know.