Once I’ve figured out whether I’m suffering from writers’ block or depression, if the answer is writers’ block, the only way is forward. But that’s like saying that to solve a maze, you just have to solve the maze. It’s not a strategy.
The strategy that I use is a mix of fixing writers’ block advice that I’ve picked up from various places on the Internet.
First, I have to identify the problem. Am I arguing with what the characters want to do? If so, I should just let them do what they want and revise my outline. Am I frustrated with the way the last scene came out and where it put the characters? Then maybe I should write that scene again, from a different perspective or allowing the characters to go in a new direction.
But by far the most difficult for me is when I likeep where the characters are, and I like the ending I have in mind, but I just don’t know how to connect the dots. Usually this happens when I’ve diverged from the outline (which is very common for me) but I haven’t made a new outline and I still like the ending.
Clearly the solution is to update the outline. But how?
Again, I have to identify the problem. But this time, it’s the characters’ problem. I list out what could go wrong for each character based on everything I’ve already written.
Usually it’s best if multiple things go wrong. One of my weaknesses is that my first drafts are too linear. It’s a lot more dynamic and engaging to have the characters working through multiple problems and having to deal with wrenches as they are thrown in.
Hopefully, the end result is that I can merge their problems into an outline that gets them to the end. Fixing the block is an arduous process, but it’s worth it in the end when I can start writing again.
I’m outlined through to the end, but at this point it’s only about twenty chapters. I know that it’ll expand as I’m writing it, since some outlined chapters tend to turn into multiple chapters, but I’m thinking I need to go back in and add some subplots.
I’m approximately half way through with outlining Surviving the Road (the sequel to Surviving the Plague, which will be my NaNoWriMo project this year). The good news is that I’m about half way through! The bad news is that I really stink at middles.
I love the beginning. I love where it’s going to end. The middle part needs some spicing up.
If you guess that I’ve primarily devoted this last week to NaNo preparations, you’ve guessed correctly! This week involved a lot of research and descriptions for the Flight story. I had been putting off writing the description of the main airship because in the research that I’d done, I realized I would need to do a lot more in-depth looking into science and sailing. While I don’t feel the need to consult with an engineer, I do need the airships in the setting to at least be plausible. I got most of my research done for that, refined what the airship looks like a few times, described it, described a couple other settings, and worked some more on the characters. I touched up the world building a little, adding some more depth to the basic frameworks I’d worked out. And I tweaked the outline in a few places.
If you guys know me, you know I’ve primarily been a discovery writer. I had a really basic outline for Surviving the Plague, but I pretty much just wrote that as I went along. This year, I really wanted to give serious outlining and preparation a try, and NaNoWriMo seemed like the perfect time to do it. I’m hoping that it will save me work on the second and subsequent drafts and allow me to write larger volumes more quickly. We’ll see. At this point the outline is 8 pages long and pretty seriously detailed. I broke it down by chapter, but I think some additional chapters may get worked in to flesh out things if it turns out they haven’t received enough attention.
All of this preparation has me itching to actually write, so I redrafted “Greed” on Saturday and sent it out to beta readers. I have two of three responses back, so I might spend my writing time tomorrow considering the feedback and tweaking that story. I really want to get it into rotation before NaNoWriMo, but if that doesn’t happen, it just doesn’t happen.
And finally, I submitted the first 250 words of Surviving the Plague to a YA contest (as you can see if you look at my last post). I’m hoping to receive at least some feedback on that, but I won’t expect it to come in until mid NaNoWriMo.
So it has been a busy writing week over here. I don’t predict that will let up any time soon, but I don’t plan on spending much time on blog updates during NaNo.
I’m not much of a prewriter. I tend to call that I do outline, and some character sketches, and I tend to call that good. After that, I mostly just think about the story. And when the scenes start to unfold my head, I know that it’s time to start writing.
My husband is almost entirely the opposite. He tends to do extensive outlining, thinking, and plotting Before he starts writing. If he starts writing. Since he is a perfectionist, it seems that he lets the unfinished nature of his story idea get in the way of actually writing.
My way leads to a lot more corrections on redrafting. His way leads to a lot more time before beginning the actual first draft. I’m not sure which way is better, but I know that I tend to do a lot more writing than he does. I’m sure there’s a happy medium somewhere. For my next story, I’m going to try to do more prewriting. I may decide that it’s not for me. But I would at least like to try it to see if it saves me some time.