For the last several weeks I’ve been struggling to complete the first draft of my 4th novel, Legend, part of the Guardians of the Word series I started publishing last June/July. Struggling isn’t the right word. I was stuck.
I got stuck several years ago during one of the big re-writes I did on the whole series – necessary because I was nearing the end of the last book, King, and things were happening that had to be detailed or at least mentioned in the previous 7 books. This is what happens when you write a big series without a detailed outline and allow ‘things’ to transpire. Most of the time, when that happened, a new idea cropped up that wanted to become part of the storyline, I would take a look at the overall story and make sure it fit. It didn’t concern me that I had to go back and add chapters or even whole books if the idea was good and solid. This is the stuff that makes books better. I wasn’t concerned because I wasn’t published at the time of all this tinkering.
Now it’s a different story. I am published. People are reading the story and letting me know what they think of it. It does add a certain level of pressure to make sure the next story is well sorted out, and won’t derail the storyline(s), that it answers a few more questions about the characters and their trials and tribulations, and moves the whole shebang one book closer to the end.
Legend is actually the first book I wrote of the series. It just turned out that way. Chosen and Myth and Telepath came much later when I realized I had too much backstory that had to be told. This was at a time when the ideas for the whole were coming fast and furious. I couldn’t type it up fast enough. There were times when I would pause and write new ideas down on the sticky notes I had on hand. I have piles of them, no longer sticky, in an envelope. I drew up a large calendar of events that starts in Legend and goes through to the end of King. I got stuck then too, near the end of writing Legend and decided at the time I didn’t want to wait to write the rest of the story. I’d come back to it in due time. Riiiiight.
Time to pay the piper for that choice, made so long ago – about six years, roughly. I forgot I hadn’t finished the actual writing part, since the story is all in my head. I know what’s supposed to happen. The scenes are there. The images are perfectly clear. The words though…the words elude me. They refuse to come. I’m writing at a pace of about a paragraph a day. Like pulling teeth. I wouldn’t call it writer’s block, but it’s damn close.
There’s nothing worse than trying to force the flow of words. To break the logjam, I stopped writing. Stepped back from it. Let it breathe. The creative brain rarely allows me such departures, and sure enough, I ended up working on the book cover for Legend, which I think turned out nicely, and when that wasn’t enough I redesigned my Facebook author page to take advantage of the new timeline larger cover photo, and then redid my twitter background to match.
All that creative influence didn’t amount to much progress on the writing front, but when I went back to it, I managed to get my characters from Miriam to Quilar (point A to point B) with the right amount of tension building toward the finale.
And then nothing again. I tried writing at different times. I tried stepping back again. I read ahead one book, edited a little here and there, I read back one book to make sure of the continuity of the story, but remained at a loss as to what else I could do to get the words down on paper.
And then something quite simple occurred to me. I picked up a pen. I picked up a notebook. Several scrawled pages later, I sailed a ship, had a party and forewarned the reader of rough going ahead. I’m on a continuous feedback loop right now of the last few chapters, playing over and over again, not in images but words, running through my head, awaiting the moments I can write them down.
So change your medium if you’re having a touch of writer’s block, or just need a change of pace in how fast you pull forth the words. Do it the old fashioned way.