This is where I talk about my works in progress and what’s going on in the writing life.
Since February I’ve been working on two books. One, yet untitled, in which I’ve written about 40,000 words and am a third of the way into, and Faster than Light, which I’m some 20,000 words into.
I’ve stalled. It’s not writer’s block.
For me writer’s block is when I can’t figure out what’s going to happen next. I have a solution for that. I go for a run. Sometimes a very long one, but the answer will come to me. I like writer’s block. To come up with a solution I need to surprise myself and if I surprise myself, I surprise the reader. The issue at present is that I’m not writing well, and it’s not because I don’t know what to write.
It’s a lack of momentum. I can pinpoint two reasons for this. The first is a day to day issue. The second is bigger, and has less of a quick fix.
The first problem is that I’m not writing every day. I can take weekends off writing, but as soon as it becomes a long weekend, or worse like Easter—4 days—my head’s out of the book, I’ve lost the thread, the voice. And it means that I need to reread a good portion of the book to get back into it. This is a writer’s most powerful form of procrastination. It feels like you’re doing something when you’re rereading, but really you’re doing very little to forward the novel!
One trick I use on a day to day basis is to never finish a chapter. If I’m close to the end of a chapter, I’ll start the next or leave the current one unfinished. This way I give myself a place to start that isn’t a blank page. This works day to day, but not after big break.
I don’t do well on vacations. I really need to finish drafts prior to a vacation or I waste several days/even a week getting back into the book.
So the solution for problem one is … write more! And write more consistently. I’ve heard this recommendation from dozens of authors. Write every day. 250 words even. After a year you’ll have a book.
The second problem is that I haven’t done enough world building and character development. When the words are not coming quickly it’s because I’m having to develop the world and characters as I go. I haven’t gone deep enough during the research phase of my book.
So what’s the solution to the second problem?
I’ve stalled on both books and have decided to run with Faster than Light. The reason is because the premise is more compelling to me, simple as that. I’ve a two week vacation nine weeks from now. I need to be done a draft by then. I can’t finish both books so I’ll have to focus on one.
To facilitate the writing I’ll commit to having one conversation with each character every day. We’ll talk about their history, funny stories, sad stories, and learn how they interact. This will ensure I know them and they know each other (weird, I know, but it helps me find their voices and keep them).
I can do it. I think.
How about you? What tricks do you use to keep the words coming? Do you believe in writer’s block? Do you have trouble finishing what you start? Why do you think that is?