Monday, 25 October 2010

Not All Bad

Last week was not the most productive for writing.  In fact at times it had been downright disheartening.

I'm not a meticulous planner but I usually have an airy fairy idea of where the story is going with certain actions that will definitely take place at some point along the way.  However, the getting to "some point along the way" has been a bit bothersome.  This is what I call the "in-betweeny bits" and they are proving elusive.  

My favoured method of writing is chronological and methodical - I plod on starting at the beginning and work my way through the middle and on to the end.  Simple?  No.  It's like a dot to dot puzzle - all the pieces need to be joined together to create a whole but getting from one dot to the next is a hazardous journey - one slip of the pen and everything alters.  This I have discovered in a couple of ways.  (1) complete mind blank on what to write next, which is common enough, we've all been there and it's darned frustrating when it happens, and (2) when research knocks your story out of kilter.

Let's deal with the research first.  Thanks to a friend who has a background in science I discovered that my preconceived notion of proving paternity wasn't as straightforward as I had thought.  This put an interesting slant on my story and how I was going to get out of the very tight corner I'd written my characters in to.  I still haven't resolved this problem although I have some ideas, but the worry is that whatever solution I choose may come across as contrived.  However, on a positive note, the lack of a definitive answer to the paternity issue adds to the theme running through the story of betrayal and trust.

The mind blank is the biggest problem at the moment.  The dots are all there just waiting to be connected.  Giving myself permission to write sloppily to get something down on paper hasn't worked, nor has writing random scenes, although these efforts have increased my word count and my novel is sitting at just under 14k.  That gave me a bit of a boost - at least I was getting somewhere even if it felt otherwise.

Matters were not helped by the inner editor heckling from the sidelines, sniggering at the stilted prose and the many, many word repetitions.  With this to contend with it made it difficult to want to read the terrible words that had been committed to paper.  And if the inexcusable assemblage of words across the page was ignored, how was one able to judge whether there was any potential in the work that had been pulled kicking and screaming into existence?  The deed had to be done.  And there they were - the diamonds of the dustheap (to quote Virginia Woolf (1953), A Writer's Diary, London: Harcourt).  And me being my fiercest critic, to be able to recognise the tiny wee gems glittering amongst the dross has got to be a good thing, has it not? Something worth working with?

Despite the problems and the on-going blankness, I'm slowly coming round to thinking that although my writing is far from perfect, it's not all bad.


  1. Sometimes I find it useful to work backwards (from the end of the story) if research throws up something unexpected, or I can't think of anything to write. Or skip the part you are on and go forward a chapter (and fill in the missing part later).

    You sound like you found your own solution, and ended up with something worth keeping. Whenever I write, I assume that around 30% will get cut.

    Good luck, and keep writing :-)

  2. Don't worry about repetitive words too much, just concentrate on getting it written. This is what NaNoWriMo taught me (what feels like a long time ago now).

    I like to write chronologically too... but sometimes, if I hit a blank, I'd move onto the next scene and go back to gelling the two scenes together another time. Sometimes by writing that scene, it gives you ideas for the previous one... making you look one clever writer later ;-)

    Good luck, and keep writing! (lol! Just noticed Christine wrote that too... I wasn't copying, honest!).