January 23, 2012

pushing through

Blogger's note: I am thrilled to welcome Nancy Volkers as part of her Chick Lit Plus blog tour. As an aspiring author, I wanted to know how someone like Nancy manages to push through those moments when writing another word seems impossible. Thanks to Nancy for doing such a great job answering, and for giving me the chance to review her book.

By Nancy Volkers
Guest blogger

Thanks Laura, for inviting me to post! I’m having a great time touring with Scotland by Starlight.

Laura asked if I could talk about how I deal with difficult-to-write moments – what happens when the newness of a story wears off a bit? How do you keep going?

The first thing that came to mind was that writing a novel can be like having a relationship. At first, everything is rosy and wonderful – there’s this overwhelming sense of anticipation and a “high” that comes from new love. When that dies down a bit, you’re left either with the basis for a long-lasting, solid relationship, or not much of anything. I think it can be the same way with a novel… you start writing, and after that “newness” wears off you realize that either you have the core of a solid, fascinating tale, or you have a false start. ;-)

Even if you know you’ve got a novel in you, it’s not always as easy as sitting down and letting the words flow. I think that’s partly because you can’t know the entire story all at once. Even if you know how the novel ends, you never know what’s going to pop up along the way. Instead of fighting that lack of knowledge, embracing it is one way to get through the tough-to-write moments. E. L. Doctorow said that writing a novel is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

I had moments during both novels when I was stuck. Those moments came more often during the writing of Scotland by Starlight, because (I think) it covers more ground and follows more characters. Sometimes I was “stuck” in the classic, writer’s-block sense – I couldn’t see which path to follow – and sometimes I was “stuck” by having so many paths to follow and not knowing which one to take.

There’s no magic to getting through the difficult parts. It helps to know why I’m stuck, though. Being frustrated with a scene or the direction of a story can mean that I’m exhausted and need a break. It can mean that I’m headed in the wrong direction. Or it can mean I’m headed in precisely the right direction, and something in the story is hitting a bit close to home and making me uncomfortable.

My most common remedies for stuckness: Take a break. Have a snack. Go for a run. Take a nap. Do some hard physical labor, something that doesn’t have anything to do with words! And sometimes, I just breathe through it and keep typing.

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1 comment:

  1. So true! I just went through the middle section where I just couldn't seem to push through myself. Glad that's over with :)