Friday, July 20, 2007

For quite some time now, I've been frustrated with my inability to write with as much ease and speed as I once had. Of course, life was simpler when I had it, but that doesn't make the situation easier to accept.

Yesterday I was reminded of some important things that I know but had forgotten to really consider:
1. The first few words are the hardest. This is true for a rewrite as well as for a blank page. Any time you have to create something from nothing (or from little), you can be choked by fear of failure/ridicule or self-doubt.

2. Sometimes the best way to go forward is to take a few steps back. Many, many times I've found myself stuck in a scene for weeks, wondering what I was supposed to do next. What works best? Save a copy of the original scene, pull it apart into manageable events, then consider alternatives to those events. If the scene ends with a character leaving, what would happen if he never left? Say you've begun your scene with a fight--how will events change if the characters approach each other with different attitudes? What if she never entered the room but the chapter still ended with her finding his letter?

3. You write best when you can silence your inner critic. This is not, mind you, the voice saying, "Wait a minute--that's not how you spell conglomeration!" You have to be able to get past your own self-doubt. Maybe the sentence you just wrote doesn't quite suit your needs for that character. Maybe there's a big chunk of reaction missing in a character's conversation. Okay--you've identified that. Make a note of what needs to be addressed when you stop writing and are ready to review. That review might occur at the end of the book or of the chapter or even of the scene. But you have to keep writing and not let your self-doubt about or fears of embarrassment at the trashy quality of your writing keep you from getting anything down in print at all.

Yesterday, I had a moment that I hadn't experienced for some time. Without realizing it, I slipped into a place where I could contentedly sit and follow the actions of my characters in my mind like I was watching a movie. What happened next in the scene was what naturally came to them, not what I felt the need to force into being. When the moment was over, I felt peaceful and happy. These moments are what I think I love most about writing. Everyone has those activities that make them feel good about themselves. Some of us are dancers, and we feel most free in movement. Others lose themselves in music. For myself, I love the sense of calm that comes when a flow of words seems perfect for the time and place, whether I'm putting them down on paper or startling a companion into bemused silence.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

If anyone out there has any extra well-wishes, I could really use some.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I'm better! I have gotten over my bout with pleurisy and I actually feel like writing again! HOORAY!!!!