Friday, August 12, 2011

What if You've Written Yourself into a Rut?

Unfortunately, I'm not giving advice today; I'm asking for it. Well. For your methods, I suppose. In pulling yourself out of a writing rut. This past June, as you all know, one of my favorite authors spoke at our local summer writing workshop. I served as her chauffeur to and from the airport, dinner, etc. On one particular occasion, she laughed and said she was on a deadline and hadn't written in an entire month.

I was shocked. I mean... all the published writers out there show up at the keyboard every single day of their lives, right? Right?

But later on, I came to find out that my CP, who was riding in the backseat at the time, thought to herself, "Wow. Maybe I really am a writer!"

Totally different reactions, though, admittedly, I like hers better. Here's why: This happens to me around mid-point in each novel. I get bored. Tired. Uninterested. Take your pick. I don't know why this occurs, but it does, and I find myself having to figure out how to get myself out of it--ie. The Rut. Last time, I picked old faithfuls to read. Books off my keeper shelf. It worked and, soon, I was on my way.

I'm going on two weeks now, and when I do show up at the keyboard, in my current story, I draw a complete blank. The CP suggests I plotted too hard, which is completely viable, I think, because I'm definitely a born-and-bred Pantser. But she's staying on me constantly, bless her, and she is nothing if not persistent. I'll spit this book out one way or another, even if she has to hog-tie me to the chair and refuse me Junior Mints until I type "The End."

I'd really like to know what you do when this happens--IF this happens. Or if it doesn't, you lucky writer, what would you suggest as a remedy?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,



Samael said...

I don't usually run out of ideas...I typically have the opposite problem and have too much to want to put. Typically I pour a shot of whiskey and turn on some music and think about what I am trying to express. Then I cut the fluff and keep it as close to my goal as possible. It sometimes is still hard for me to decide what to cut though

Bonnie Rae said...

Well after my Grandpa died and I couldn't pick up a pen I printed out all my chapters and re-read through them. From a non - editing stand point (which was hard) but when I reached the end of what I had so far...I wanted more.

I also recently tried this tactic (which I blogged about)

My biggest problem is being hit with a new story inspiration half way through my current one. I have a really cool one on the back burner at the moment so I only allow myself to take notes down but only truly focus on my current WIP!

Andrew Leon said...

I think I have to spend so much of my time fighting for time to write that I don't have that problem. At least, I haven't had that problem, yet. Still, I haven't touched Brother's Keeper for two weeks because there just hasn't been any time. It's kind of driving me crazy.

However, when you do have those problems, you should remember that without C. S. Lewis, there never would have been The Lord of the Rings. Someone there to encourage you to keep going, or to withhold Junior Mints, is very important.

Lela said...

I find myself in the same boat, hon! Personal issues have bulldozed their way in and taken over. I had to pay attention. In the process of doing that, I lost some mojo. I'm not completely back yet, but I think what has been working for me is focusing on the writing, no matter what it is, and literally forcing myself to think about it. Writing the article for the magazine has helped. I can make myself write and it's not that long (700 words max). Maybe write some poetry, something that you can get creative with but is short and you can have that satisfaction of finishing. I don't really have someone to stay on me and you're so lucky to have someone holding you accountable.

Now, all that said, aren't there some short stories we should be writing? Hmmm??? :)

Tracie Allen said...

Hello, I am not a writer but a reader and I understand that we all can get that mental block but what you can do is think of the fans. When you start a story I am sure that you have a great idea for that story, so you just have to go back and possibly reread the beginning and that can get your creative juices flowing. Additionally, please think of your fans out there who depend on you, I for one love what you have written so far on A Scandalous Proposition just try going back and reread the beginning and then you will get ideas.
Thank you,

Anonymous said...

Great to see a new post!

And DO have someone pressing you to get busy. Don't YOU have a short story to work on???

Alyssia said...

@Samael Lucky you! Actually, I'm not out of ideas for everything. Believe you me, stories flit about my brain constantly. But they've got nothing to do with my current WIP. That's my issue. Cutting the fluff is definitely a good tip!

@Bonnie Emotional/physical changes in life can, I think, definitely lend toward a lack in production. I'm going through a wee bit of that myself right now, as you know. And thanks for the great post and link! Definitely worth keeping in the favorites. ;)

@Andrew How right you are, and usually I feel the same as you: when I don't get to write, my mood depreciates by the day. If I don't start producing and producing well soon, though, my CP's gonna start bringing out the big guns. Of that, I am certain. I'm definitely lucky to have her. Hope you get back to writing soon, too, Andrew!

Alyssia said...

@Lela You are such an inspiration to me, Lee. How you manage to remain strong and steadfast, keeping your eyes on the goal--to eventually become a published author--surpasses my own aspirations of success in so many ways. Thank you for the words of wisdom and comfort. And yes, yes, I know! We're supposed to brainstorming short stories! :)

Alyssia said...

@Tracie I cannot tell you how much your comment meant to me. Truly, when I read it last night, I went to bed thinking, "You're not just letting yourself down, you know." And I hadn't thought of that until now. You humble me, honor me, and I am SO happy you've read/are reading Scandalous. That story, though unfinished, is very dear to my heart, and I truly cannot wait to continue on. Honestly speaking, it's been at the forefront of my thoughts this entire week.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I do believe you may have just inspired me more than you know. *hugs*

Alyssia said...

To my anonymous commenter: Kimberly, if that is you (which I think it is, but, of course, I've been wrong about these things before), thank you for staying on me, being a constant inspiration and mouth of reason. I couldn't do this without you.

Lela said...

Your annonymous poster is Kim. You can tell by how pushy it sounds. :P

Lynda R Young said...

For me, when I get bored it's because something isn't happening right in the story and it needs a fix. A short break helps to get a fresh perspective and then I reassess what I'm writing or I'll plough ahead with the intention to go back and fix later.

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