Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Diggin' Your Heels

There are certain moments in the process of writing where I find myself digging my heels in.

The first one comes when I’ve finished my initial plot summary and I know it’s time to start writing.  My idea is fully formed.  I’m already in love with a couple of my characters. 

But I’m afraid to start. 

It’s like I have stage fright.  My characters are all standing around, arms crossed and glaring at me like ‘are you gonna write this thing or not?  We’ve got stuff to do.’

Once I finally get over that hurdle, I LOVE the process. Writing a first draft is my favorite part.  It’s where my creativity can really flow, the story is new and continues to surprise me and I get to know my characters in and out.  Then before I know it, I’ve reached the final chapters...

 ...and come skidding to a halt.

I don’t want the fun to end.  Once I write the final chapters, my story will be OVER!  And then I’ll have to do revisions.  Ugh!  I take a couple days and deep breath and write them anyway.

The third pause comes after I’ve gotten feedback from beta readers.  I’ll be going through my manuscript thinking  ‘Oh, yeah, that’s totally true!  Doh!  How could I have not seen that before?  This is good.  This is gonna make a world of difference!’

And then I pause, fingers posed over the keys thinking  ‘Aaaaaand this is A LOT of work.

Heels in sand.

A take a few days, mull everything over and work in the revisions in my head from different angles before finally  gettin’ ‘er done.

Right now I’m dealing with the very first pause.  I’ve got a brand new idea, the plot summary is down and I need to start writing in order to advance the outline.  But I’m hesitating before the big leap.  Anyone else find certain stages in the process make you pause?

45 comments:

salarsenッ said...

Oh sure. Like now. I'm in that 'teetering about my plot' stage. WTH am I doing? stage. Can I find some direction? stage. LOL

Cherie Reich said...

I'm right there with you, although sometimes I don't have a problem starting the manuscript. I almost always have that first chapter cemented in my brain, but I slow way down towards the end of the work. I think it's because I know once I finish the novel, then it's almost back to the drawing board (not quite that far but still). You have to get your critique partners to do a read through. You have to do a read through. Then the "Gods, I wrote all this crap" thoughts creep in. And, finally, there are revisions, which can make you either love the entire story all over again or want to bang your head on the keyboard. So, yes, there are definitely pause moments, and I find sometimes taking a step back to breathe and make a plan can help. :)

Sandra Rose Hughes said...

I really like the way you laid this out. I have gone through these "pauses," before, although I wouldn't call them pauses as much as huge, towering roadblocks that have derailed me for 6 months to several years at a time. It is nicer to think of them as "pauses," and helpful to know that other people face the same ones.

Summer Frey said...

Ughh, yes!! I was just thinking about posting on this same topic--the fear of starting. That's where I am right now, and I really need to kick it.

Laura Pauling said...

Yes, I pause at those moments, but not for long. I restarted my current wip several times over before finding the right voice. I'm almost done - one scene left to write - and I'll pause again before revisions!

Kelly said...

I have certain scenes that I'm stuck on that make me pause. And I ignore it for a few days because it's hard to write. But then I just do it and it's not so hard after all!
I enjoy the first draft as well. I'm at revisions with suggestions from readers and I love how they saw what I didn't, and it's making my story so much better!

Matthew Rush said...

It's the "this is a lot of work" part that always gets me. I'm lazy like that.

Melissa Buell said...

Great post, Katie.
I was stuck for a month writing a very difficult scene where my MC gets injured. I knew where the story was going right after that scene but...I was stuck! Why couldn't I write about recovering from an injury?! I would just stare at my computer, trying to let my imagination take over and...nothing. I finally made myself write, one sorry word at a time, telling myself the whole time, "You'll revise it later. It doesn't matter if it stinks. Get past this!" I finished it and I actually liked it. And then I started beating myself up, "Why was this so hard for you?!" :P

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Yeah, it's called querying--or rather jumping into query land. ;)

I wrote the outline for my current wip between drafts of my other book. After I finished the first draft, I forced myself to take two weeks off (I think I made it to two weeks) before starting the edits (my favorite phase). :D

Candyland said...

I'm paused right now. I'm usually okay with revisions but this round has me discombobulated.

Carolyn V. said...

I'm digging my heels in now, but I need to get started again. =)

Her highness, Samantha Vérant said...

I ditto Stina. It's waiting! Freaking out when you don't have answers! It's like you freeze. Well, I did, anyway.

Gimme some sugar, Froggy Baby

Melody said...

Oh, I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one who does this! I just broke through a month-long digging in my heels in the 'post-beta-comments' stage, dreading the revisions. But now that I've started, it's almost fun!

Almost. :)

Melissa said...

I pause at all three of these places!!! RIght now, I'm stuck at the third pause.... ugh.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Yes, yes, yes! I'm in the planning stage of a new project. It's work and I always hate a blank document when I finally get ready to write. :-)

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Katie. The middle is what gets me. I trouble shoot with my critique partners and we hash out varying plot twist that might work. I get excited again and then...viola, I have a completed ms.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Melissa Gill said...

So true so true. I get stuck in all those phases. I think my absolute worst is writing the ending though. In fact on my current WIP, I still haven't written the end. I'm waiting until I've done a few more revisions.

Katie Anderson said...

For me, writing is a vert stop-and-start process. I tend to get really excited and passionate about my story and throw myself into it... then lose the excitement for a week or two.
It can make the process frustratingly slow! I actually just wrote a blog post about how I wrote my first novel, and that 'how' included a lot of pauses!

Hart Johnson said...

I think it's possible you and I are total opposites *teehee* I can NEVER wait to get started. I keep trying to make myself get some of the back up details down but I can't keep from starting... And at the end? It ALWAYS come crashing in on me FAST... and once I have actual FEEDBACK... can't WAIT. My trouble spot is that 3rd quarter when I feel like I ALWAYS have to force all the pieces into line, and re-evaluation thing that happens somewhere after first edit and I know something is MISSING but I am missing WHAT...

Dawn said...

I think your pauses are normal. I often wait to start writing a new project until the "first line" hits me. I think that comes from my Journalism background, where the article never flowed until I had the lead right.

Gina said...

Forget my heels, lately I put my whole head in the sand when I get a new idea.

I'll see all these amazing scenes in my head and know darn well I should be writing them down, but then I remember I've written an entire novel that still needs work and no one is interested in representing. So I think, "What's the poing?" I wind up forgetting half of what I envisioned and then kick myself for being so jaded so early on!

Elena Solodow said...

We pause at exactly the same time. I think writing a book is such an undertaking, it's necessary for our brains to really comprehend what we're doing.

Christopher said...

I've got problems finishing anything. For some reason by the time I get about 3/4s through and I have the rest figured out in my head I get bored with it and it doesn't seem as exciting anymore.

Tamara Narayan said...

I'm on a big pause now while my youngest wracks up yet another day sick at home. It's hard to find sympathy for her since she refuses to take the medicine her younger sister is licking her chops over. Madness, this is madness.

DL Hammons said...

Pause? It's more like a piano falling on me. Dead stop. The last round of revisions, the ones where you know that everything has to be absolutely perfect. I'm at that stage right now and I'm still digging out from under that baby grand. :)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Well, as you know, I jumped into a new WIP this fall and fell flat on my face. I was boring myself to tears, and the characters in my imagination totally failed to show up for work.

Since then, I've been revising various other manuscripts and stalling ... trying to figure out whether I can salvage this idea or whether I need a new one.

And I'm not sure I have anything really good waiting in the wings ...

Cheree said...

The middle is where I really pause. I know how I want to start and where I need to end, but when it comes to that middle part, then I always come to a halt.

Summer Ross said...

The only piece I have ever paused in writing was my short story for publication, it felt like all this pressure was on me and it was hard to let go and just write.

Old Kitty said...

Oh wow - I so relate!! Starting is one of the worst. I've got my characters, what I want to write about, a semblance of a plot strong enough to start and yet I stare at the blank screen and the cursor blinking at me!!!!

I guess my next pause will be waiting for feedback!! LOL!!! Oh these pauses are just painful!!

GOOD LUCK with your new project!!! All the best!!! Pause over. Now write, write like the wind!!! Take care
x

Áine Tierney said...

I'm another writer stuck at the moment! I have a rough draft and it's starting into it again that is making me stall. Great post!

Bethany Mattingly said...

My biggest is the last one you named, after I get it from my critique partners. It's sooo close and yet soooo far away. Great post!

Nicole Zoltack said...

The rush of the first draft is amazing. I love it. It's my drug. Editing I don't mind so much. Making it tighter, deleting repetitions. It's the bigger revisions that I hate. The ones that awesome beta readers and critique partners will point out. 'Tis a necessary evil. (sigh*

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I'm in a pause right now. Actually I think someone hung strands of garlic in my office and I can't go in it! Maybe if I eat the antidote to garlic I'll be able to re-enter???

Janet Johnson said...

I am at that first pause. Exactly where you are. And my heels are totally stuck in the mud. Can't I just feel accomplished to have finished the last one? :)

Joanna St. James said...

I only pause at that saggy middle and right b4 revisions. I have several works in the revision pipeline that are on hold too. I am sure I will pause when I am ready to query too. *le sigh*

Myne Whitman said...

I also take my time when writing, especially just before the major rewriting and then after so many edits, I'm exhausted.

Caitlin Lane said...

I tend to "dig in my heels" around the middle when I feel like everything is just going great, and I know exactly where I need them to end up, but writing from point A to point B can sometimes seem so gruesome that I want to just stop and say "Nope! It's just perfect!" That and before the big re-writes that are needed. And somehow through all of that I still love. But only afterwards! Haha.

Girl Friday said...

Oh I love this post! I'd been digging my heels in for nearly a week (until yesterday, yay!) because I was 3/4 of the way through and knew I had the final (hardest) quarter to write, with three different plot threads to tie up, plus I know I have tons of revisions and polishing to do on the whole thing when I've finished.

It was all TOO DAUNTING so i just kind of ground to a quivering halt in terror. Glad I'm not the only one!

Jen Daiker said...

I am so on board with you! Writing the rough draft allows my mind to wander free. Dream up everything and flying high with all the words I get to write. Until it's over. Revising not so easy, but the more I do it the easier it's becoming (by easier I mean tolerable). I know it's improving the story!

Vicki Rocho said...

You mean these delays aren't because I'm distracted by three children, husband and a TV?

Carolyn Abiad said...

Lots of people agreeing with this one, I see! Wonder why.... :) I get in a funk when I have to change stuff too. The first time was easy, but now I know how much work is involved! Diggin' my heels in this week actually.

Julie Musil said...

Boy does this sound familiar! Once I kept plotting and outlining when really I could have started. I was stalling because I was afraid. Finally my critique partner said, "Just write it already." It was the kick in the rear I needed.

Good luck to you as you prepare for your favorite part - the first draft!

Ms. Tale-to-tell said...

I've got climax issues. When I reach that penultimate point, I chicken out, like I've reached the top of the roller coaster and I'm afraid I'm not gonna make it to the bottom. I'm still working through it!

Angela Scott said...

I'm digging in my heels right now. I have to write the end of my WIP and I don't wanna. Only two chapters and the first draft is done and yet, I'd rather nap, scan the internet for awesome blogs (such as this one) and buy things off Amazon. Why??? I need to finish. I need to. I know it. I think I worry that I can tie everything together, have it make sense, and leave an opening for the sequel. It's fustrating. Anyway, I love your blog and will be folowing your creepiness. LOL.

Angela Scott said...

I'm digging in my heels right now. I have to write the end of my WIP and I don't wanna. Only two chapters and the first draft is done and yet, I'd rather nap, scan the internet for awesome blogs (such as this one) and buy things off Amazon. Why??? I need to finish. I need to. I know it. I think I worry that I can tie everything together, have it make sense, and leave an opening for the sequel. It's fustrating. Anyway, I love your blog and will be folowing your creepiness. LOL.

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