the land of stuck

Posted on Posted in journal, shadow bound, writing life

The novel is (hopefully: has been) well and truly stuck.

I've tried all the usual tricks, such as sneaking up on the plot by exercising, and writing other stories, watching tv so dull and boring I'd honestly rather watch the carpet in front of the tv than what's on the screen, watching stories I love and which inspire me…

I've even tried β€” prepare yourselves β€” combing through the plot of both this novel and the previous one, and writing every beat down, and compiling a list of what I have, what I wanted but have forgotten, and what I still need.

That was so wearying I had to take a day to rest. There's only so much plot my brain can handle before it starts dreaming of eating macaroni and cheese and intellectual tasks no more stimulating than wondering what's on the other channel.

Of course, the latter may have had something to do with the dayjob as well. It's always possible. For some reason, probably related to the fact that it's everybody else's first day of the week and my last day of the week, I find Mondays the hardest.

I'm not actually sure which tactic proved the most successful, but let it be said: it was while I was watching the carpet that the first plot snippet crept up on me.1

At any rate, I now have the teeniest inkling of the events which should, hopefully, if all is well and my wrangling is successful, tie together into an ending. Not all of the events I need, nor all of the answers I need, but perhaps that's for the best. I've always found outlines drain the joy from writing the first draft, for me. Which is a shame, because I'm also feeling an increasing urge to outline my stories. πŸ˜•

  1. Yes, yes, okay, it was only after I'd done the outlining. []

7 thoughts on “the land of stuck

  1. hehe. After all that, I sat down, and was just as stuck.

    But I think that was due to inertia and the pile of errands which were easier than due to the story itself. Here's hoping.

  2. That's really interesting. How long did the 'stuckness' last for? Did you feel like you just slowly ran aground, or was it a sudden thing? I haven't tried writing a novel for a long time, and have never finished one, but I can't say I'm suprised at the idea that your brain just goes 'Nope. Got nuthin'. Shaddup.' for a while towards the end.
    If there was no dead-line, I think perhaps a few days- or a week of doing Other Stuff, like dinner with friends, seeing bands, going bushwalking, etc., would probably be a preferred strategy for me. Creative brain tends to know the answers sooner or later, but it likes nice treats and cozening like the rest of us. πŸ™‚
    Glad to hear the first flicker of plot has begun to surface – good luck!

  3. I ran aground.

    Technically it was a slow process – I saw it coming for a long, long while before it actually hit, but I … well, I didn't acknowledge it. At first because I didn't consciously know, for absolute sure, that it was a problem with the plot not working, or a problem with me being ridiculously, stupidly over-tired and coming to the bitter and bloody end and just wanting it to be over, thankyou, now. During all of that time, the words were still stacking up, so it's hard to be sure, see.

    Writing the end of the book, whether I know the plot or not, starts out as a struggle where I contemplate never writing another word because everything I've written is trite and broken and just damn nogood. Then, if the book is working, it picks up in a mad dash for the end, and the last week's worth of words pour out of me in a day or two. (A day or two which involves no sleeping, and no moving other than the absolutely necessary. It's not pretty. I also lose all ability to converse with normal people, or indeed, any people.)

    This time it was the plot not working, partly because I've never written an ending that has to tie off not just this current book but the book before it, and eventually even dimwitted I had to admit that, and the words stopped. There comes a time when thrashing forward and produces more words doesn't actually help. It's just kinda tricky to spot that point. πŸ˜‰ I've been stuck for … god, probably close to a fortnight, now, all things considered.

  4. Yep, I can see how having to tie off all the loose ends of not one but two books could be tricky, daunting and tiring. I think it was Phillip Pullman who said he went from "This is the BEST STORY EVER!!!" to hating it as the most absurd and puerile stuff ever written as he got towards the middle, and the rest was kind of a test of his will.
    One of the toughest things about writing is how tiring it can be, and how self-indulgent you can feel whinging about it, when all you're physically doing is sitting in the one place typing… or walking around the house avoiding the computer in the other room… It sounds like going out and spending some money and having fun was a good plan.

  5. Heh. There's a chart somewhere, I'll have to dig up the link, about how a writer feels about their current novel. It starts with effervescent joy and an insane conviction its the best thing ever conceived…right on down to the dark before the dawn, where things are so bad we don't talk about them in civilised conversations πŸ˜‰

    I think writing a novel is always an endurance test.

    Also, yes!, re the feeling self-indulgent when talking about the tricky times. In the end, it's something I do by choice, it seems rather snivelly to whine about it and yet not stop the pain.

    Writers is nuts.

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