Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Writer's Mud

To the best of my knowledge/memory, I have never had writer's block. Not the way I've heard it described, at least. Manuscript at a standstill, unable to move forward one word, let alone one sentence.

Never had that—of course, I haven't been at this too long yet. What I have done is slog through the writer's mud. Have you been there? The forward momentum doesn't stop; it just slows down. There's a little more thinking going on, a little more letting the scene play out in my head before I attempt writing the words.

I don't see this as a particularly bad thing (as long as the whole manuscript doesn't go that way). It's kind of the bridge that joins the planning part of me and the "pantsing" part. (For the uninitiated, that's the flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants concept.) I frequently have some broad plot points outlined (roughly) when I start, even some details noted, but I don't have the specifics of how those major landmarks will be connected. Basically, I know the characters will start at A, stop by E, L, and T on the way, and end up at Z. The rest of the alphabet kind of unfolds as I go.

Generally, I like how this works. I have those big points in mind, so I know what I need to point toward. As I slog through the mud, my brain is sifting through possibilities, everything marinating and percolating to get those connections made.

Since I spent the majority of my life convinced I wasn't creative at all, I'm happy to find a creative process that works (or seems to). I just have to make sure I keep moving, or that mud might suck me down to where I can't get the momentum going again.

Have you experienced the mud? Or have you experienced writer's block? What do you do to put a positive spin on it and get moving again?


Darke Conteur said...

Writer's Mud-oh yeah. I get writer's barrier too. I know where the scene has to go, just can't figure out how to get everyone there.

Never had writer's block, ever.

E.B. Black said...

I am a planner, not a pantser. I have to know as many details of a novel as possible before I begin to write or I get writer's block, so no, I don't get writer's block either, but only because I plan so much.

I do get mud sometimes though because I'll know what a scene is supposed to accomplish and what the characters are supposed to behave like, but it will take me forever trying to figure out the descriptions or keep the dialogue true to the characters while still accomplishing the goals I want it to.

All this makes it especially hard for me to write a book series, though, because I have to have every book outlined and planned out before I begin or I won't be able to finish it.

R.C. Lewis said...

Yeah, definitely, Darke. And it surprises me how often I'll let my characters "wander" for a minute and suddenly realize, "Hey! That can totally tie Plot Point X to Plot Point Y!"

EB, very interesting. Like I said, I'm somewhere in-between the "pure" pantser and planner ends of the spectrum. If it's building a house, I definitely know the floorplan, but not the colors, trims, finishes, and forget about the furniture. So I do have a very rough sort of outline before I start, but probably not as detailed as yours. :)

Rick Pieters said...

Hey Rachel. This resonated, as did that Wendig post yesterday, so I updated my own blog with a new title, wrote a post, and referred in it to your post here. I hope you don't mind.