Friday, June 21, 2013

Old dog

I'm thinking that this old dog needs to learn some new tricks.

I'm in a bit of a writing fog/funk.

My current work-in-progress is sputtering more than I would like it to and I'm feeling much more frustrated than usual.

So I've been thinking a lot lately about why that is.

I've narrowed my problem down to three things.

1. I cannot stop the habit of incessantly starting from the beginning almost every time I sit down to write. I tell myself I need to do that in order to get my engine recharged and to get back in the flow of the story. But from the beginning? Really?

I call this method of writing The House That Jack Built.

I talked about this little problem of mine way back in 2007. Five years ago, people! And I'm still doing it.

This process results in very polished beginnings and really sloppy, rough middles and ends.

It frustrates me.

2. A similar problem/habit I have is revising incessantly as I go along instead of just moving forward with a ROUGH draft. 

I was recently thrilled to read that the fab author Mary Pearson has this same affliction. 

Read about her woes HERE. 

I especially related to this part of her post:

Another thing I did was NOT incessantly revise as I wrote.  I had a habit of spending as much or more time revising each day as I did writing.  That was a hard habit to break.  I like to see things pretty and perfect and my words to sparkle and they definitely weren't doing that.  Also, revising is so much more fun than heading into uncharted territory. But this time, I was writing a true ROUGH draft.  This actually made more sense because why spend hours making something perfect if it might get cut in the revision or totally overhauled?  Still, I love playing with words and getting only the most essential ones down, and getting the emotional tone fine-tuned, so I had to get tough and turn a blind eye to the crappiness.  The carrot I held out to myself was that when I was finished I could revise to my heart's delight--my favorite part of the process. 

[Fist bump, sister!]

3. I'm not an outliner. I want to be an outliner. I want it very, very badly. I want to know the beginning, the middle and the end.

But the cold hard truth is that I'm not an outliner.

I want to be a vegetarian, too, but I love sausage - a lot. So there you go.

And then I read this hilarious post by Libba Bray and I felt better. 

If I complained to her, she would understand. 

Libba, call me. 

Of course, that doesn't fix anything, but I feel a little better that somebody else is as miserable about their inability to outline.

So now I have identified three sources of my frustration.

I am still frustrated with my process and I'm thinking this old dog can't learn new tricks, but now that I have it in writing, I'll be able to read about it again in five years.


Wild About Words said...

Barbara, I don't know why our processes are so maddening sometimes, but they are. Just know the story is inside you. It's all there. And you will use the tools you've gathered over the years to excavate it successfully. Until then, hang in there!

Mary Lee said...

Take your time. Your faithful readers will patiently await your next (un-outlined) story!