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The Hurdle’s Hurdle

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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.

 

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6 replies on “The Hurdle’s Hurdle”

I, too, hate getting caught up in that headspace! It’s not fun. But at the same time, when you’re done with something and you want to edit – feel like you want to pull one element out, you’ve got to go through the whole book to do it. It’s a little crazy sometimes, finding the balance!

That’s not a failure.

It’s a metafailure. Failing to even fail properly. HOOhah.

I fell into a similar trap long ago: wanting the first draft to be perfect, and mulling pondering overthinking so long I never wrote anything.

Once I realized that stream of consciousness needs to spray like a firehose, my writing speed picked up a mite.

Yeah, I was too concerned about how to write it that I couldn’t just get anything written. Spent a nice portion of this past weekend writing and had a great time. So nice for it to be FUN again.

Thanks for the honesty and integrity in The Hurdle’s Hurdle. I’m more of a pantser, and the past year, I’ve relished (and posted about) the freedom structure gave me. I’m intrigued by your perspective of how uncomfortable flying by the seat of your pants is for planners/outliners.

My first attempt to really sit down and write, I pantsed the whole thing and ended up with massive and frequent revisions. So I just try to do it less and not make it my main method of writing. It’s certainly freeing and fun, but I make sure I remember that revisions/rewrites are likely in my future. 🙂

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