Writer’s Block: Rearing Its Ugly Head

I believe (though someone correct me if I’m wrong) that this is the first time since I’ve started this blog that I’ve actually posted more than one entry in the same month. I know, pathetic, right?

Getting to the matters of writing, I have to say that writer’s block is currently my biggest problem right now. My friend and I managed to finish up two short stories in our collaboration that were WAY overdue to be completed – like we started these things back in July of last year, that’s how long it’s taken. Other than those two pieces (which maybe needed 500 words each, tops) I’ve unfortunately been stuck.

The story I mentioned in my last post which I was going to work on as come to a complete standstill and it’s all thanks to lack of interesting plot. See, I’m at the point in this novel(la?) where I need time to pass, though nothing really interesting happens. I know I could do a time-jump and just put a “6 Months Later” heading in the text and just continue writing, but I’m not really sure if I want to do that yet. It also probably doesn’t help that I’m no longer certain the span of time this story is actually supposed to extend over. I thought I knew before, but all that’s changed recently since I’m editing another book that takes place in the same universe, same time frame. So now I’m not sure. Enter writer’s block on this particular manuscript.

And then I’ve got the collaboration which I’m doing with my friend. Again, same universe, but this time a different time frame which is set at least a couple years later. So why the writer’s block, you may ask? Well this one has to do with lack of inspiration instead… although I guess it’s also related to plot as well… But anyway, the semantics of the situation isn’t the point I’m trying to make here. What I’m doing a terrible job of saying is that when my friend and I started working on this collaboration we wrote down a list of all the short stories we wanted to tell with our characters. We agreed that it was the chance for us to see them in a different, more mature and grown up light. Weddings, funerals, career decisions… those were just some of the big things we wanted to touch on. The project started in July of last year and in those first few months we probably wrote 30,000 words – maybe even more.

Now fast forward to today. All of the initial “big” ideas and stories we wanted to tell have pretty much been written now, leaving the straggling, fragmented ones left. Yes, we still have more we want to write, but the amount of time and energy it’s going to take into making those partial ideas whole is a lot to tackle together, let alone when living an hour or so away from each other. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that little wrench in the works? We don’t get to see each other much and have had to resort to Skype dates along with the absolutely amazing editing function of Google Docs. To be perfectly honest, I’m not surprised that writer’s block as reared its ugly head in this scenario.

So here I am, stuck on two projects because I either can’t translate the ideas from my head to the page (or I guess technically it would be the keyboard or word document…), and I’m frustrated as anything. Don’t you find that whenever there’s finally time to write, that’s always when it becomes the hardest to do so? I guess in a way that’s Murphy’s Law for you right there.

Well, beyond my ranting about yet another bout of writer’s block, I don’t really have much to share writing-wise. You’ll have to excuse my lack of usual “wisdom” (Okay, I can’t even write that without cracking up) – let’s go with the moral that usually sums up whatever entry it is I’ve written; my favourite tennis player just lost a semi-final match early (like 3:30am start time early) this morning and I’m still bummed out by it. So there you have it – interesting fact about me: I’m a sports nut, tennis being one of the sports I’m super nutty over.

But without further ado, I shall end this blog post now and stop rambling. Keep writing, everyone.

Until next time.

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When Characters Have a Mind of Their Own

I’ve been posting entries to this blog for a few months shy of three years now and believe it or not, I’ve never written a January post. I don’t know the reason why – all I can think of is that life got busy (which most likely means I was drowning in school work) – but it’s the sad truth.

This year I’ve decided to make a promise – I guess you could call it a New Years Resolution if you really want to. Let it be known and recorded right in this opening blog entry of 2016 that I am going to make a concerted effort to post at least once a month on this blog. See, now that I’m done school and only working, I think I’m going to have more time to dedicate to my writing, which means that (in theory) I should have more stories and tips to share here.

So with that out of the way, let’s talk some writing.

As my last post suggested, I’ve now switched back over to working with the familiar characters from my trilogy’s universe. For the most part I’ve been working on the collaboration pieces with my writing friend, but that’s been a little difficult to progress much in since she’s been so busy with school and work and life. I totally understand why she hasn’t been able to find the time to write (I was there myself this time last year), so I started working on a new short story for the collection, one that doesn’t have anything to do with her character. It’s been coming along, but sometimes I find that I hit that point where the story gets a bit dull – that’s where I am now. This is when I need to take a step back from it, work on something else for a little while, and then come back to it with a fresh set of eyes.

So this is where I am now. I’ve picked up another older piece – one that I apparently haven’t worked on in many months – and am going to work on it for the time being. It’s still set in the same universe so I have that comfort and knowledge of the characters that I need right now, but it’s different too because only one of the original characters from the trilogy is in it; the rest of the supporting cast (if you could call them that) are new characters that haven’t been seen anywhere else before.

I’ve mentioned this novella before, but only in passing. It’s never been discussed before in detail. Since it’s set during the events of my trilogy, I don’t really want to give anything away, but I will say that it’s turned out to be very integral to my overall story plot line. What started out as a piece to let me hold onto a character I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to yet has become a major turning point in the series.

See, when I began working on this story, I had a clear point where it was going to begin and where it was going to end. Those things were absolutely firm, I told myself, since I’d already written the events leading up to it and happening afterwards. But then I started working with the character again, showing his interactions with these new characters I’d created and I realized that the way I wanted the novella to end originally just wasn’t going to work any more. The character had changed and changed far too much for my original ending to sound believable.

So what is the point of telling this story, you ask? I don’t really know if there is one exactly. I guess if you wanted to take something from it you could say that the characters always win out in the end – at least that’s what I’ve found in my experience. You can plan and plot something down to a t, but if a character decides to change or evolve, you can’t really force them down that original path. If you do, it’s going to sound forced or unrealistic. Just let them be them. Write the story that they want to tell as well.

Alright, I think that’s it for me today. Keep writing everyone! And remember to listen to your characters.

Until next time.