Monday, May 23, 2011

Hitting the Wall

Last week I totally hit a wall with my new project.  I wasn’t happy with the scene sequence in my outline at that point of the story.  I knew it had to change.  Something different needed to happen.  But what?  I spent about three nights rereading the previous chapters and then staring at the blinking cursor.  

I kept hearing the Chinese drive-through intercom voice from ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’ in my head saying ‘Aaand then?’.  (I know. I need help.) It was driving me crazy!  Inspiration had left me stranded about a hundred pages into the story and although I could hitchhike back to where I started, there was no moving forward.

Eventually what I ended up doing is making a list of things that need to happen at that point in order to move the story along.  Then I made a list of things I’d like to see happen- certain characters highlighted, possible scenarios, emotional conflicts, etc...  It’s almost like constructing a puzzle- you need all the pieces to fit perfectly so that it doesn’t seem contrived.

I let my list marinate for awhile.  Started critiquing some material for a friend.  Watched tv.  Drank margaritas.

And then yesterday morning it was like the flood gates had opened!  I’d found the perfect setting and scenario!  It involved all the characters I needed to highlight.  I killed two birds with one stone and got the situation exactly where it had to be for future chapters.  I wrote the whole ten-page scene in a two-and-a-half-hour mad woman type fest.  My fingers were flying.  My eyes were unblinking and dilated.  I probably looked like I’d been possessed.  In the end though, I think it’s probably my favorite scene so far.

Do you ever hit ‘the wall’ in the middle of a project?  What kind of things do you do to get over it? (or under it, or through it?;)

20 comments:

Vicki Rocho said...

Look up. See? That's me camping out on top of the wall. Not a great place when you're afraid of heights. LOL.

Love it when inspiration strikes and you find the perfect solution to keep the story moving.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

What you did was exactly right: brainstorm a little and then walk away from the whole thing for awhile. Voila! The solution will come from your rested brain.

Walking away is the hardest thing ever for me. But ... slowly ... I am learning. (Teachers make the worst students.)

Laura Pauling said...

Sure I hit a wall and get stuck. And I love it when the answer comes unexpectedly like that! Glad you got through it!

Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

I always talk my friends ears off, untill they are like "SHUT UP" but they are always good and tell me were they would like to see the story go.

Its helpful fo rme to have an outside idea of what they think is going to happen. What they are hoping will happen.

Glad you arent against that wall anymore. ITs painful.

Sarah said...

Yay! You let it churn! And there you go. Excellent strategy--I especially like how you got organized and THEN let it sit. That's a great idea.

Kristie Cook said...

I'm so jealous of your breakthrough! I watch you with envy over the wall I still stand behind. Yay for you and the brilliant idea! I am so stuck and walking away hasn't seemed to have worked. I'm hoping when I open the doc today for the first time in nearly two weeks, I'll realize that the time away really has done...something...however small.

Anne Gallagher said...

I do this all the time, however, my down time doesn't include margheritas, alas. Marinating for awhile lets the creative juices stew and I think it's a great device. Congrats on nailing it.

salarsenッ said...

Ooh, my face is so flat from hitting the wall lately, I can hardly breath through my nose. LOL Stepping back is the best way for me to gain clarity and see a new path for a scene/chapter. I'm actually blogging about this tomorrow. :)

Cynthia Lee said...

Haha! I love those moments of furious typing, when you just can't type the words fast enough.

Liz Fichera said...

Love it when the words flow like that! Sometimes it takes stepping away and doing something else.

WritingNut said...

Yes, especially in revisions! Something similar happened not too long ago... I love it when those gates open :)

Old Kitty said...

Awwww well done you for knocking down that pesky wall!!! Yay for you!!!

Me, I bake!! Take care
x

Eric W. Trant said...

Good job! Getting through that wall is the difference between dreamers and doers.

When I hit the wall, my favorite trick is to change POV. I switch to another character.

That or I delete the whole banging wad and start over. I hate the wall.


- Eric

Made Budi said...

If you find this situation anymore, just drink margaritas & get drunk....hahaha.Don't be angry just joking. Sorry my English is not so fluent.

Lady Gwen said...

Way to break down the wall! I do that a lot. I find that if I leave the pesky scene behind for awhile, that it will eventually come to me. Love it when a plan comes together!

Nicole Zoltack said...

lol I loved that picture!

Yes, right now, I'm not sure what to do with my fantasy YA. My biggest problem is that it might be better as MG, but I haven't read enough MG to know for certain. Argh, not fun. So glad the floodgates opened for ya! :)

Colene Murphy said...

So glad you busted down that wall and accomplished so much in the process! That's awesome! And, weirdly enough, I have had that same "and then..." issue. GOD it's annoying and when it starts in your head, there is no real hope of thinking of anything else.

Lindsay said...

Glad you busted down the wall. i try to do other stuff too. I find I over think the problem if I don't take a break ;)

LTM said...

oh, yes. I kind of did it recently when all this move stuff suddenly got kicked up a notch. CRAZY.

It's good that you gave yourself the space you needed and then got it back. I think that's a big part of it. Just relaxing, not psyching yourself out, letting it come back.

Great work~ :o) <3

Dentists West Hollywood said...

Sometimes I think you need a wall to hit before you can get to the other side. It's eye opening and can really leave the bad behind. Congratulations on getting over it!

Sara

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