Working Through The Rough Bits; or, What To Do When The Words Just Won’t Come Out

(This posting originally appeared on The Melt-Ink Pot)

I’ve been plugging slowly, stolidly away on my current WIP, working title “Fairies Living At The Bottom Of The Garden.” But it’s going slowly. Very slowly.

I know why it’s going slowly:

1) Inner Editor won’t shut up. She’s read the first three chapters and thinks they’re pretty good…and wants to know why the rest can’t be up to that high standard.

2) Other People have read, or will read, parts of what I’ve written on it so far. (This is the piece I submitted to the WorldCon workshop, I also read parts of it to Beloved Husband and some friends.) That’s as bad as letting Inner Editor out of her cave, if not worse. Because now other people have expectations for how the story is going to turn out, and what if I don’t live up to them? The weight of those expectations can be crushing, sometimes.

3) Vacation Happened. We went out of town for a week, and while I thought I could get some writing done while Beloved Husband drove, turns out when he was driving, he wanted to listen to Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (we only recently discovered that they made more than just the twelve episodes). It’s impossible for me to write while listening to something like that. And then, once we were there, we were involved in activities from 9:00 am to 1:00 am every day. So, almost no writing got done.

4) Motivational Challenges: I’m working on this story as part of my summer writing challenge, which is a Good And Fine Thing, but somehow I’m having problems motivating to stay interested in it. Probably because last year, my friend Branni was also taking part in the challenge, and she helped motivate me. Since she’s no longer with us, I’m finding it difficult to stay focused.

So, now that I know what the problem is, how can I fix it?

Inner Editor is notoriously hard to jam back into her box once she’s been let loose. I just have to convince myself it’s okay to do things like use the word “unfamiliar” twice or even three times in one paragraph, because I can go back later and fix it. But that’s not always easy to do. So perhaps I need to start posting daily word count updates on my LJ, so my friends can help guilt me into keeping the words flowing.

Dealing with the fact that others have read parts of the story is harder to deal with. What if they come up with an obvious and glaring problem that requires me to go back and do an extensive re-write? Wouldn’t it be better to wait until I have the critiques back before I finish? Worse yet, what if people read it and think it’s not even worth finishing? No. I just have to convince myself to trust my instincts, that this is a good story, and that it’ll be worth finishing, for my own satisfaction if nothing else. But that’s easier said than done.

As far as coming up with the time to write, that’ll be more difficult. It being summer, the yard demands a certain amount of my time. Also, we have various projects we’d like to complete before heading off to WorldCon. But perhaps I can go back to getting a few hundred words done in the morning before work, and a few more at lunchtime. That would make a difference.

When it comes to motivation, I’m hoping that posting my daily word counts will help with that as well. After all, it’s mighty embarrassing to get out there for several days in a row and have to admit that I’ve written nothing. Hopefully, that will provide enough incentive to keep me writing.

What do other people do when they hit a writing road block?

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About sheilamcclune

Aspiring author, sharing the tidbits I've learned along the way.
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