Frankie decided it needed exploring.
Oh, writer’s block. We hear a lot about it and how to avoid it/work through it, but what do you do when it’s blocking you?
I bet every single writer has a tip or trick on how to break through the block. And every single one of them are right…and wrong. What works for Person X may not work for Person Y, or you.
How do I do it?
I tend to go work on something else, or just noodle around with worldbuilding for the thing I am writing.
For example: In my project Caught (which is set in Corpus Christi), I’ve been trying to work out how I can maneuver my people in ways I need to without violating how Things Work in Real Life.
The situation: my MC is called in because of some missing fae. She will be working with the local police to help find the fae and stumbles across [REDACTED] in the course of the investigation.
The writing problem: I did not want to turn this into a police procedural, nor did I want to use actual police process in the investigation. How to make this work? It’s a contemporary/urban fantasy, so I can organize my world to work the way I want it to, but a huge requirement for me is to make it plausible. Whatever situation I create must work within the rules of the world I create.
So how to avoid a reader (or me!) saying that the investigation wouldn’t happen that way, or that I was ignoring basic police procedure?
Not so simple, huh?
First, I began by having my main police character be a relative newcomer to the area. She’s not from around here and she’s feeling her own way around. That was a start.
Then I realized, that even so, I needed either more police presence, more scenes in the local PD and how they handled officially missing persons. I needed to figure out how this all worked with my MC and her own situation…and I got waaaay too bogged down.
I had to put aside the project and work on something else. Something entirely different. So I did. I worked on a romance novella (which is neither a genre, nor a length I’ve ever tried) and made some progress.
Caught was put to the side. I didn’t work on it or do any research at all.
Then the other morning, I woke up at 4:46 a.m. – with a possible solution. I typed out notes on my phone (yay for Google docs!) and realized that this may well solve some of the issues I kept running across.
The notes are part of my Scrivener file now, and I’m more confident that I can pull this off.
To whet your appetite, here’s the first section of the book – which will probably change, because of above-mentioned Eureka! moment, but hey, consider this a sneak peek!
Only, no, I’m really, really not.
Because ideas are cheap, easy and beyond plentiful. I get ideas every single day – all day long. Some are interesting enough to jot down, others, just fleeting thoughts that may or may not crop up again.
For many writers, it’s the lack of time that bogs them down. They either work fulltime jobs, have families, are under contract or a mix of all three.
Me? I’ve got the time, the brainpower, the ganas*–but so very little actual physical ability/energy. Isn’t that irony?
I sit here pondering on topics to post for Patreon, on where to take my projects next (two of which I still consider active), and my body is “nope, nopety, nope. Can’t do.” Frankly, it sucks.
What I want most in the world right now is utterly impossible: to remove the physical constraints of my chronic illnesses and let me feel like I did when I was in my early 40s: full of life, full of energy and ability. Sadly, that’s just not going to happen.
What does this mean for you, my readers?
Well, everything’s just going to take a lot longer. I write when I have energy bursts, and rest when I can’t write. So, please be patient, and I hope you don’t lose interest. 🙂
I’ve attached a bit of something that may actually become a real project. It’s a character note sheet from Scrivener for a secondary character. This is an idea that I had after reading a Harry Potter fanfic, specifically regarding a tertiary character in that story and some interesting background the author built. It was an original character, but I was more interested in the ideology and the theme. I started wondering, “what if…” – which is pretty much how all stories come about.
At this point, this is only a character note sheet, but who knows…if I’m lucky, I might be able to develop this further.
*Ganas = desire
When I was a kid, I spent pretty much every penny of my allowance on books–Scholastic Books to be precise. When I was in first grade, and went to my first ever book fair in school, I was overwhelmed. I could BUY books, take them home and KEEP them.
I still remember the two books I bought at that fair. They were the Little Golden Books of Mary Poppins (which I’d seen at the movies – my very first movie!) and Perri (the squirrel), from a Disney special I’d seen.
Those books opened the door to many, many more over the years, from Nancy Drew onwards. I gorged myself on words–escaped to Sleepyside-on-Hudson with Trixie and Honey; learned about Depression era migrant farming and slipped into The Velvet Room with Robin. I took the oil from the magic bottle and grew wings to fly with young Harry Houdini Marco.
Books were, and continue to be, my own personal magic. I can right wrongs, fight the good fight, and be home in time for dinner. My mom still says that sending me to my room as a punishment was pretty much useless, because I just curled up in bed with a book. She was so right.
Now, as a nearly 60 year old adult, I still view books as the ultimate getaway. From frothy humor to disturbing horror, I’ll pretty much read anything–as long as the writing is good and I enjoy the story. I will cringe, cry, sob, laugh out loud and let the words take me away, even if it’s just for a couple of hours.
Is it any wonder that I became a writer?
Like moviemakers, I do my best work out of order. That means I don’t write chapter 1, followed by chapter 2, etc.I see scenes in my head, work out the dialogue and action and then go to my project and write it down…no matter where it fits in the overall story. I use Scrivener, a blessing of an app that was first launched in 2006. Scrivener works like I do. I can add, remove, move around scenes/chapters without having to scroll down an interminably long Word document. When I’m done, I can compile all the files into a finished product–whether a Word document to submit to publishers or a finished e-book or print manuscript.
Tools like this make it easy for me to think outside the box. I’m not fighting technology when trying to write, and it’s just easy.
So, why am I telling you all this?
Remember the first chapter of the new project I posted a while back? Yeah, well, it’s not the first chapter anymore.
This past Saturday night, going into the loss of DST (yay!), my body decided that 3:30 (now 2:30) was the best time to get up and be AWAKE. I fussed at myself, but then the brain started working on the the story and I couldn’t stop.
Knowing that I would be really angry at myself if I didn’t write this down, I got up and went to my computer. I never went back to bed. I spent the next many hours writing and typing up notes.
By the end of the day, I had slightly more than 5000 net new words, a bit of a new direction and a new first chapter.
Here it is, in all its first draft glory (and with a lot of placeholder text).