Thursday, March 25, 2010

Diary of a new WIP

I started a new project a few weeks ago. The words flowed from my fingers freely, and plentifully. It was very exciting, and what resulted totaled about two thousand words.

It was a good start to my work in progress. After a little editing the next day, I moved forward, getting fifteen hundred words down without a break. And they were good.

The next day was almost as productive, and I reached for the notes about the book I had made when I was supposed to be sleeping, putting the new thoughts into the piece. Some surprise developments delighted me.

The next day was Saturday. I don’t usually get to write on Saturdays.

As in all weeks, the next day was Sunday. That’s the day I catch up on chores. So no writing.

Monday morning, back at the computer, I edited, put in details, refined, explained, and in general was pleased with the result. I was closing in on ten thousand words and I still had ideas left. (The book is to be full length, so it isn’t so remarkable that I still had more to say.) One idea I didn’t have, however, was where it was all going, but I still had confidence that the characters would let me know. In the meantime, they were entertaining and I was enjoying myself, even if I only wrote about seven hundred words.

I made some more progress the next day, but it was getting harder. Still, I had some additional ideas overnight, so I was ready to write on Wednesday, and I did.

Thursday I just typed the newest ideas onto the bottom of the document, readying them to become actual sentences, thoughts, and story. I was annoyed at myself, though, for letting down on the momentum, but told myself I needed a mental rest.

Friday I thought about the book. I didn’t go near the computer. We could chalk that up to the snowstorm that kept my husband home from work, but it isn’t exactly the whole truth. He was outside shoveling for a while, after all.

So what happened? I still like the book as much as ever, but I can’t seem to work up the energy to keep up my early pace. And if experience is any guide, it’s only going to get worse. I’ll be mentally slogging my way through the deep sand of words with less of the excitement I originally felt. I’ll be seeing the true meaning of working on a book.

Does anyone else have these problems? More importantly, does anyone have a solution?


Jane Myers Perrine said...

Oh, my yes, Joani! With every book! This is one of the reasons I write at least a quick synopsis--so I have some idea what happens next when I get bogged down. Writing isn't easy. I hate the middle--hate, hate hate!

The only thing I've found that works is to keep writing. Even when the book is boring and seems to be going no place, keep writing. I'm NOT one of those who says you have to write everyday, but writers have to write! If I don't like what I've written, I've accomplished one thing: I know where the story is NOT going. But I usually find something to keep and can push ahead. The road block isn't going away because we avoid it. It's going away because we push through it.

I.J. Parnham said...

As you asked for advice, I'll do the usual thing and offer the completely opposite advice to the first suggestion. The solution is time, to my way of thinking.

Go away, shovel snow, take up a martial art... do anything but write the story and get yourself even more cheesed off with it. I always find that a block like that is my subconscious telling me that something is wrong, except it hasn't told my conscious bits what it is yet. Writing and writing does nothing more than just give me finger ache and stuff to delete and pain and irritation with something I should be enjoying, although of course writing something else entirely is usually what I actually do.

Then, some time later, perhaps years as that's one of the joys of writing without deadlines or demands, when my mind is no longer dwelling on the story it'll pop into my head that the reason I don't like this story is because... and a few editing changes later I'm off and running again.

Elisabeth Rose said...

That's such a familiar tale! The only solution is to keep at it. I'm exactly like you--sometimes I think about the story without actually writing a word. Other times I write 200 words but they move things along so when I come back it's not the same place I stopped.

I also use Ian's method--work on something else if it has really ground to a halt and come back later.

Beate Boeker said...

I always think that my books are dead boring when I'm in the middle. When I complain about it, my husband smiles and says "That's what you always say." However, I push on and force myself to write a bit. And later, when I go back, I often think, "Well, I had no clue it could sound so interesting." So for me, the most important thing is to continue. As I don't have much time to write, I have plenty of time anyway when I'm forced to be away from my ms. It would be different if I wrote several hours each day, I'm sure.

mulligangirl said...

Oh, yes. I hit this point with every single book at about 30,000 words. The solution? I keep writing and stop caring about whether the words are any good or not. You can't sculpt without first digging up the clay. It's tiresome, it's dirty and it gets under your fingernails. I plough forward writing garbage if I have to until the end, then I get to work on the 'real' book: the revisions. This is why I never share my very first draft with anyone.

One other thing I try to do is remain flexible with my initial chapters - sometimes I throw them away completely when I feel like they have trapped me into a dead end. It's hard to do, but it can be freeing.