I am now a week behind my re-writing schedule. I am struggling to concentrate and appear to have misplaced my motivation. When I sit down to write the words are not what I intended and the scene turns out to be irrelavent, boring or both. My characters spend too long agreeing with one another and the conflict is absent. Or, the conflict is there but the writing is so weak that it does not adequately demonstrate the tension required. So, I’m left wondering what I should do now. There are a number of options:
Blindly go forward
This is a phase. I can write myself through it. As long as I turn up and write, eventually the words will sit in their rightful places and the flow will return. I just need to give myself permission to write rubbish while I work through it.
Spend some time plotting
Perhaps I’m struggling because the structure is missing from the scenes I am trying to write. I don’t understand my character or the situation enough to write the suitable atmosphere or there are too many incompataible elements that I need to tease out. This requires thinking time to ensure I can justify the scene and the character motivations.
Take it one scene at at a time
Maybe I’m overthinking things. Perhaps if I break the task down into small, manageable chunks – like individual scenes – it will seem easier to handle. I might be putting too much pressure on myself to do too much, when really I just need to take it one bit at a time.
Write something else
I need a break from this story and these characters. I should take some time to try and write something else, something with lower stakes and less pressure that is posed by the novel.
Write about my struggle to write
Alternatively, if I find that the crippling effect has leaked into all my fiction writing abilities, I could spend some time simply writing from the heart and describing my difficulties. This might allow me to externalise the problem and move it from my head to the page so I can put it aside.
Remind myself of MY motivation
I need to rediscover my passion for the story: why did I want to write this novel? What compels me to tell the story of these characters? If I can recapture some of the enthusiasm I had when I started, perhaps this will propel me on.
My writing environment might be toxic. Perhaps I need a change of scenery or some other more stimulating atmosphere that will encourage me to write? Maybe my body is not happy with the way I am sat – lounging on the sofa/bed – and requires sustenance or a bit of attentive exercise. Occasionally, it’s the body not the mind that needs care.
Examine the other side
Maybe my brain needs to comprehend how these scenes could be written, in which case I might need to educate myself on how to write by reading. Perhaps I just need to process some writing that isn’t my own, in order to deconstruct the method and remind myself that this is process, not the final product that I’m working on.
Take a break
My mind is too full of other stuff right now and I need to take an actual break from writing and allow myself time to readjust. I’m not feeling well, personal issues have arisen and my paid job is mad busy. Sometimes we need to admit when to take a step back and set things down for a little while.
There are a lot of potential solutions to my current predicament and I’m grateful to all those individuals on Twitter who offered me advice when I mentioned my lack of ability of late. There’s a lot going on in my life right now, so it is possibly inevitable that my mind is not focused on the writing itself right now.
What I can’t do is panic: so I am a week behind schedule – I planned in some contingency for falling behind. Berating myself for not being where I wanted to be at the moment is not going to help me move forward. I can’t turn back time and I can’t force myself to enjoy the writing anyway. It is what it is. This is the nature of being a writer – of being human – and we’ve all experienced it. The key thing is not to beat yourself up about it and put too much pressure on yourself, lest you break.
I have a set of potential solutions. Now it’s just a matter of working through them to hopefully come out the other side renewed and refocused on the job at hand.
What do you do when you find it difficult to write? Do you find it easy to identify the reasons for your struggle to write?
Let me know in comments or Tweet Me.