It’s been almost 3 weeks since my last post, and this lag hasn’t been because I’ve been completely slacking…notice I say “completely” – however I will confess to some slackage. Writing requires lots of energy. Editing requires lots of energy x 10.
The first quarter or so of the 4th book, I whipped out in a couple of months, and then I got stuck. After a solid month of slugging through the slump, I got ONE chapter done. If you’ve read my books, you know my chapters aren’t marathon lengths. A few pages of 8 1/2″ x 11″ and that’s a chapter. It took me a full month to crank out 3-4 pages. Sure, I jumped around to other areas of the story and worked some on book 5, but that chapter was killing me.
I wanted to just skip it, but I needed it as part of the story to bridge two other key scenes. So why was it such a bear to write?
I finally got it done and was glad it was over….until I got stuck on the next chapter.
Practically everything I read online for writing blogs, writing coaching, etc, they all say the same thing: Write or edit, but never edit while you’re writing. Keep these activities separate.
It’s brilliant advice!
I got frustrated with being stuck yet again, so I decided to just write a scene for book 4 without having any clear direction of where it was going or the purpose it would serve. This is called “pantsing” or “writing by the seat of your pants.”
I don’t like pantsing. It makes me feel weird, like I’m lost and wandering. I was more tired of being stuck than being afraid of pantsing, so I said “screw it” and launched into a scene of just writing whatever. It broke my stuck cycle with a sledge hammer, which is EXACTLY what I needed. I don’t know if I’ll keep that pantsed scene or not. Doesn’t matter right now. I’ll deal with it later when I’m editing.
Once out of the rut I reflected back on the problem. Why was this writing hurdle so hard for me to get past? Why and how have I never encountered this hurdle before? What had I frigged up so badly that made me so stuck in the first place?
Then it hit me. I wasn’t writing; I was trying to edit. Here’s where the hurdle gained a hurdle of it’s own….I was trying to edit what I hadn’t written yet. How the hell I fell into that trap, I have no idea. It’s impossible to edit what isn’t written, so that’s why I was beyond stuck.
Instead of dwelling on how I ended up tripping over not just a hurdle but a hurdle’s hurdle, I decided to learn from the problem. I know what to look for now if I ever wander down that path again, though I’m really hoping I never venture into those weeds again.
Writing isn’t easy, but editing something not written yet, well that’s a whole new trick I don’t recommend trying.
Image by sxc.hu