When You Hit a Writing Wall

by Lori on 03.15.2010

in writing

I’ve really been struggling lately with process.  I’ve come to a dead end and, it occurred to me, it’s not the story.  It’s how I’m getting the story out.  I always considered myself a planner (vs. a pantser) but it occurred to me when I was actually writing five page descriptions of my heroine’s apartment that maybe I was doing too much planning.

But writing the beginning of a story is easy. Or it is for me.  There’s so much to get out, so much you know is going to happen, it’s like you channel the story.  And then you hit that wall, where you haven’t planned any further and you’re not sure where to go next.  I had notecards based on GMC (which I still believe is a good idea), but they just didn’t ring true to my story.  Nothing did.

I decided to pick up another project I had done some notes for (my stories generally start with pages and pages of backstory–how did my protagonists get where they are now?).  I was sick of rules, sick of genre, sick of trying to write what I should.

I just wanted to fly with the story as it flowed out of me. Click To Tweet

No worries about description or narrative.  I wanted minimal direction, I wanted to know what my characters were feeling, and I wanted to get the dialogue down.  (Dialogue always comes first and easiest for me.)  I’m 41 pages into this long “outline” and I don’t know how it’s going to work out.  I don’t know if it’ll be easier to avoid those walls and how much work it’ll be to turn it into a decent first draft.  I just know writing feels good again.  It feels right, and that matters.

The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

NEIL GAIMAN

via AdviceToWriters – Home – Write Your Story As It Needs to be Written.

Please share your process with me in the comments.  I’m always looking for new techniques.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Birgitte Necessary March 23, 2010 at 1:28 pm EDT

Great article! As a writer who is intimately familiar with “the wall,” I appreciate your insight. I’m on attempt three, due that damn wall. I’m hoping I have what it takes to muscle through this time.

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