Saturday, 11 April 2015

J is for...Jackknifed

Today's post is on the letter J - my, aren't we just speeding through the alphabet!



I've already talked about celebrating your writing, and that it's okay to think your writing is - dare I say it - actually good, but what about those days when you feel like you've jackknifed? You're driving your articulated lorry of a novel quite nicely down an empty motorway, when BAM! You hit a snag in the plot, or a character suddenly won't do whatever it is you're asking of them, or you crash head-on into that nasty vehicle known as 'writer's block'; and suddenly you're going round in circles, doubling back on yourself and twisting yourself up into a nasty metal knot.

What do you do??

I'll tell you.

Stop.

Breathe.

It's okay. Every writer goes through this - constantly. It's part of the job description. I'd be very suspicious of any writer who didn't go through some kind of emotional turmoil at some point or other while writing their novel. It's just part of the creative process and it's a good thing. It shows that you care enough about your novel to have these kinds of doubts and fears. What's not so good is when you allow these problems to overwhelm you, and maybe ultimately abandon a perfectly good piece of writing.

What's important is that you take a step back and breathe for a moment. Go and make some tea. Or bake/eat cake. Go for a walk and clear your head. Take a bath and/or a hot shower. And when you feel ready, come back and observe your 'car crash' with a new, critical eye. Chances are, it's nowhere near as bad as you feared.

Look - what's this? Under that car door? That scene that that was causing you so much grief could be moved towards the end of the novel, so it flows better with the overall plot. What if you removed that chapter that was having you in fits of despair? Or what if you simply edited it and removed the pretty, but ultimately pointless, bits of prose? With a couple of licks of paint and tweaking some dialogue, that character that was misbehaving might now be ready to do the job you put them there for. Or maybe you're having issues with the actual engine of your novel? Try looking over your notes or (if you're a planner like me) your detailed synopsis and seeing if there are any nuts and bolts that can be tightened, or any characters/scenes that might need an extra bit of grease and oil to get them going again.

Okay, so this post is a tad lighthearted, but you get the picture. No novel is beyond saving. If you're well and truly stuck, there are countless books and blogs and websites out there (the IWSG website for one!) that can help you overcome writer's block, or teach you how to jazz up your characters. My point is - don't give up. If you still have that passion and fire for your novel, keep going - it gets easier, I promise.

16 comments:

  1. I quite agree with your closing words. I hope you treat us to a little story telling before the month is up!

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    1. Thank you Keith! I am debating about it - we'll have to wait and see ;)!

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  2. Stepping away from the story is always a good strategy. I always do that and pretty soon the solution pops into my head. :)

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  3. Good advice. The worst thing to do is sit there staring at your words which are starting not to make any sense at all. I find housework is therapeutic because at least I'm achieving something! A walk is good too - the dog gets extra exercise when I'm struggling :-)

    Annalisa, writing A-Z vignettes, at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

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    1. Thanks, Annalisa! I hate just sitting and staring at my laptop - it makes me feel like I'm wasting my time. Housework is definitely a good way to go! And I like taking walks too :)

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  4. Absolutely! Great advice. I find if I'm stuck it's either because the next scene I have to write is terrifying or I'm taking my story in the wrong direction. =D Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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    1. Thanks, RaShelle! They're exactly the reasons why I get stuck too!

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  5. Great advice for any author or any creative person! One must sit back and not get too frustrated

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    1. Thank you Birgit :)! That's exactly what we writers have got to remember!

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  6. Really good advice, nice share.
    Shawn from Laughing at Life 2

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  7. I love that there is so much support and help out there.

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    1. When I first started writing, I thought I was the only one that was struggling, but there's so much support and advice out there for writers of all descriptions :)! The IWSG has been especially helpful!

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  8. Another positive, helpful post. And some really good advice.

    I don't tend to get writer's block but I do sometimes find I'm just not in the right headspace for a particular wip. Instead, I work on something else. The change in pace, direction or tone is often enough to allow my subconscious to start working away at the other one in the background. That's why I work on multiple wips at a time.

    TD Harvey
    A to Z participant
    http://www.tdharveyauthor.com

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    1. Thank you :)! That's a very good plan - I've been starting to wonder lately if I should adopt this approach. I have numerous ideas for WIPs, and I like the thought of switching between them if I need to, but at the moment I think I just have the discipline to write one at a time! Maybe that'll be my challenge for this year :)

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  9. Another positive, helpful post. And some really good advice.

    I don't tend to get writer's block but I do sometimes find I'm just not in the right headspace for a particular wip. Instead, I work on something else. The change in pace, direction or tone is often enough to allow my subconscious to start working away at the other one in the background. That's why I work on multiple wips at a time.

    TD Harvey
    A to Z participant
    http://www.tdharveyauthor.com

    ReplyDelete

I love chatting and meeting new people :). Thanks for stopping by!

 
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