Every writer welcomes and treasures those times when the writing comes easy. The scenes pretty much write themselves – all you have to do is put your hands on the keyboard and they settle themselves into your story with ease and grace. What happens when that inner voice guiding you goes silent and the writing comes to a screeching halt?
Mix It Up
I’ve written about this before. When I’m writing (and things have slowed to a crawl), I step away from the computer and try something else. I toss around single-word ideas as I wash the dishes, think about a particular element of the story that could be changed while I’m gardening, or use a different format (pen/paper vs. computer) when I’m in bed and done for the day. It always works for me.
I recently ran into this in my current project. The story started out great (the first couple of chapters pretty much wrote themselves), and then the story came to a grinding halt. I fussed and fidgeted with it, and pretty much tried forcing it in the direction I wanted it to go. Turns out I was wrong. The plot was confusing to me, and I was the one writing the story! If I couldn’t figure out the plot, how were my readers ever going to follow it? The first couple of chapters were intact, except for the minor changes I decided to make (related to the geographic location). The rest needed a major hack job. Once I made the decision, it all became clear, and I was able to focus on where the story needed to go. When I listened to my inner voice, the path of the story revealed itself to me.
Whose Story Is It?
Perhaps the wrong character is running the show. Instead of the main character, he/she may need to be a secondary or minor character. Or vice versa. Perhaps they need to be in another story of their own – they may be too strong or overpowering to be a minor character. Choose someone better fitted for the role and keep that headstrong guy for your next story where you can use his personality and all that goes with it to the fullest.
You may call it intuition, a “gut feeling,” or some discovery you made that started the wheels of forward progress in motion. For me, it’s all of those, and that inner voice that is behind it all. As a writer, I’m grateful that I’m learning to be a better listener.