I have been having a bear of a time writing over the past few weeks. Part of it was exhaustion from lack of sleep, part was exhaustion from November writing, and part of it was that I do not want to write this scene. And there I was, struggling away with this scene that I couldn’t figure out how to flesh out, and then I realized what I was doing wrong. Namely, I was writing it at all.
There are some moments when it’s important to just sit down and plug through a scene and do it. Those cases come when it’s not so much the scene that’s holding you back as it is simply sitting down and writing. Re-developing the habit of doing writing means you just sit there and get it done.
And there are some cases when another approach is required.
This particular scene is one that had a fairly prominent place in my outline initially, nearly got cut, and then was reworked and added back in. (Honestly, I still don’t know if I’ll keep the final product. It’s one of five similar scenes, and one of those scenes has got to go, I just have to figure out which one.) That apathy is undoubtedly part of my writer’s block, but what really makes it difficult is that this scene didn’t start out as a scene but rather as a single image in my head and a vague idea of what has to happen. (Very, very vague. I only really knew where I wanted the characters to be at the end of it.)
Forcing myself to write this scene was doing me no favors. It was frustrating, and exhausting, and a little humiliating as I watched my novel’s daily word count drift lower and lower and lower until I found myself skipping a day in favor of doing almost any other kind of writing. Very demoralizing. So I finally remembered the advice that I have used to great effect in the past and yet still somehow forget every single time it comes up.
In short: if it’s not working, do something else. Within the book, of course, but pick another scene and write that. Get back into the swing of the book, feel the passion again, or at least give your brain a chance to work out the details so you don’t have to just sit there and stare at the dang blinking cursor. Give it a break. Don’t give up on the whole book, just the scene, and if it works out that it’s unnecessary that just makes it even better.
I have now moved on to the next scene (and if there are any references to the previous scene that will need to be made, I’ll just have to work on that in edits). Funny thing, I actually find myself skipping back to write a few hundred words in that old scene, as small inspirations strike. It’s still not anywhere near complete, but I’m watching that word counter get closer to where I want it and my heart soars. (Yay for obsessive completionist tendencies!) Sometimes it’s easier to skip around than others, but it’s usually worth it, at least for a few minutes. Give another scene, another POV a try, and see what might happen.
Anyone else having trouble writing that one scene? Any other techniques I should try the next time I get bogged down? I’d love to hear it!