You know how you’re just starting something and you have all this great momentum to really make something? Or you’re in the middle and you’ve really hit your stride? I don’t care what the thing is you’re making – creative or logical, tangible or not – you’ve got the groove and even if not, you’ve got the motivation.
And then, you hit a snag.
After finishing my second novel, I impressed myself with having another idea ready to go. A lot of the story got fleshed out in my head pretty quickly. There were (and still are) some gaps. It’s not quite filled out, yet, but my characters fell into place and I felt like I was starting to fall in love with them. I started a playlist and I got this close to getting the characters to completely moving into my head.
And then, well, I don’t know what happened, but somewhere along the way I kind of let them all wander off.
I haven’t given up on the story, I really haven’t. It’s a good concept and it is offering a good challenge for me in structure. Plus, I really do like these characters a whole lot. It’s just that I’ve gotten to a point where I’ve sort of lost the thread that kept me stitching away with their story and now the hard part is re-threading the needle so that I can start piecing things together again.
But threading a needle can be hard.
Right now I feel like I am trying to shove a frayed end of bulky yarn through they eyehole of a tiny sewing machine needle, which feels nigh on impossible. And when it’s that hard to get going again, I admit that I often just stop trying.
It’s just another form of writer’s block – which I have agreed time and again with others that writer’s block simply means fear. I think I know what I’m afraid of in this case, and though it’s a valid feeling, I also know that I don’t believe it’s a valid excuse to keep me from pushing forward with this story.
So what are my options – or OUR options, since misery loves company – when in this situation? Much like Dory’s mantra in Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming”, I absolutely believe in “just keep writing”. But, “write what?” you say, “I have writer’s block! I can’t write anything.”
Liar. Go back and edit that novel you’ve edited a billion times already (but save as a new copy, of course, in case you wreck it along the way), write some flash fiction for a contest (but not too serious of a contest because you don’t want to crush your ego), journal, and finally, open the manuscript with frayed edges and use a different needle to stitch in just a few words here and there because once you get a few sentences in, more will eventually want to follow.
I’m going to immerse myself in my playlist when I sit to write so that I can be transported emotionally into the environment – after all, it wasn’t that long ago when I wrote how easily this worked before.
And then, finally, I’m going to keep reminding myself that it’s okay that it’s slow-going. What’s the rush? The point is that I’m working at it – and that I’m enjoying it.
How have you pushed through your latest block? Have you ever lost the thread on your story, before? How did you re-thread your needle?
There are two songs in particular on my playlist that most strongly take me into my characters and their lives right now. One of them I shared in my Music and the Moment post (“Some of Us”). The other is “Bruises” – a collaboration between Train and Ashley Monroe: