when the writing stops

How on earth do you get going when the writing stops. We all talk about writer’s block from time to time but what about when the writing quite literally comes to a stop. Like this writer, I sometimes write poetry as a way out of the block but for once, even this strategy has failed me.  I wrote the first blog post in weeks some days ago and it really was a bad post you should find it beneath this one. I could cite all kinds of things, like most people I have my share of trouble and this year has a been a bit spectacular in that area so far, but I have never come to an almost complete halt before.

Write Every Day

I, like every other writer have no doubt heard that writer’s block doesn’t exist, you just have to turn up at the machine every day and open a vein or something similar. I have written on a daily basis since I was studying for my doctorate,it was the only way I could keep on top of things. As a freelancer I know that if I don’t write I don’t get paid and I lose clients – even that didn’t break the back of whatever was stopping me writing. For a person who has no trouble writing 1500 useable words an hour, I could barely manage a quarter of that.

I’d been having trouble with my second Lambeth Croak book for a couple of months, I’d almost finished and then I couldn’t seem to write any more, everything I wrote was deadwood. Yes I’ve had a lot of other things to contend with, like most other people out there so I don’t intend to bring that on as an excuse. The fact is that I have been virtually unable to write anything worth reading for a while, apart from a short story and one bad poem. I’ve tried free writing, something I’ve used for years and come up with nothing but rubbish. But I think that the light switched on again today when I came across a post about tools for writers.

750 Words

750 words is a free tool for writers and is based on the Writer’s Way notion of morning pages, something I used to do and have tried to keep up with but never really understood, until today, that free writing for 750 words or three pages allows you to get underneath to what Natalie Goldberg calls the Wild Mind, that part of the mind where pure creativity breaks through. So, I think I have found the answer to my problem that you have to go for 750 words at least to get anywhere. I have to say that the first five hundred of those words were like pulling teeth and then the flow started again. If you are interested in using this tool, you can find it, and several others here How do you cope when the writing stops?

 

 

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writing scenes for a novel
When you are writing fiction and writing scenes for a novel, all of the senses should come into play. Touch, smell, taste, sound and sight should all play a part. If you’re editing fiction, whether it is a novel or a short story write as if you were writing a film or a play where the visual plays a huge part.
Most longer works, e.g. novels and novellas are written using the three act structure, where each act also consists of chapters and scenes. You may, or may not have heard of Dwight Swain, if not, you should get a copy.
Swain talks about novel structure and about the structure of a scene, which should consist of a character’s goal, then there is conflict some obstacle or series of obstacles that prevents the character from attaining that goal and ending in disaster.
Once you have the overall structure of a scene you need what Swain refers to as the sequel. Your character is motivated by the conflict and disaster to a reaction, your character has to pull herself together after the disaster and decide what to do.
Your character may be faced with a series of bad choices and needs to find the least bad (dilemma). Taking that decision, draws your character forwards to a new goal. The new goal is where the whole process of scene and sequel starts again.
If you want a much more in-depth view of how to write a scene then read this How do you deal with the various aspects of writing your novel?

 

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Writing and editing a novel is much harder than those who have never done it might think. All good writing is rewriting but sometimes you can rewrite yourself into a corner. I thought that the second Lambeth Croak novel would have been finished long since, but something wasn’t working and then I discovered the problem. Besides general problems and a death in the family I’ve not got anything like the amount of work done that I’d expected but I also had what Stephen King spoke of as writer’s block – something wasn’t working and I needed help from a beta reader to find the problem. Once that was done, and with the help of this blog post at Write to Done (thanks Mary) I knew that my editing had to start over with a full structural and content edit. With the help of my Beta reader I found the plot hole that was causing the problem – so I’m in for a few thousand word cut and rewrite before I can send it out to all my beta readers prior to publishing.

When the Writing Gets Hard

As King says in his essential book On Writing, the writing gets hard when you are taking the story down a road it doesn’t want to go, which was what I had actually done, but it took a reader to show me just where that was. I’d tried the character interview and not had much luck largely, I think, because my head was determined that the book was finished – but it wasn’t. I’d written a scene with no explanation of how the good guys and the not so good guys, had discovered where the MC and her client were being held. I just couldn’t see it. Sometimes the writing gets hard for emotional or other hangups getting in the way, or an inability to stick to a writing schedule, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes it’s just you or me, the author,trying to take the story in a certain direction when it needs to go in another.

What I’ve Learned From Editing

In starting to rewrite the parts that didn’t work, I’m learning, as King notes, to let the story have its way. Cutting and rewriting is so much better than dumping a story that you started with so much enthusiasm. So, as the experts say, and as the professional’s do, make a developmental edit – i.e., structure and content-your first step in the editing process rather than your last. Good writing is always re-writing.

 

 

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