Sep 23, 2012

STUCK and writer's block

So this WIP I'm working kicking my butt. I got to 65K and realized I was about to step off the plot map and start wandering in the woods.  I don't like the woods. They scare me - pointless, scrambling in the dark with no end in sight. The most recent chapter has me teetering, rewriting, revisiting where this story must end.

And part of my problem is the ending is hard. My poor MC doesn't get everything her heart desires. All her sacrificing, self-denial and sheer hard work doesn't get her THE dream. She must decide whether her desire is worth everything she has...and then some. That even if she doesn't grab that brass ring, the journey will still have been worth it. (And no, she's not a writer. *grin*)

On the one hand: more sacrifice, more training, more loneliness and stress but with the hope that she'll someday make her dreams come true.
On the other hand: a re-entry into normal life with friends and family around her. Sometimes it takes more strength to let go than to keep on a road blocked with dead-ends.

I have no idea which she'll choose. Which means that, while the plot arc is resolved, there's no happy-resolution-ending.  I'm stuck. And it's driving me crazy. Some would say I'm suffering writer's block.

But I don't think so. All the possibilities - and my own inadequacies as a writer - are just choking me right now. My brain craves space and distance...neither of which I'm able to get on a daily basis. I've decided I need to walk away from this WIP for a while due to several factors.

The school year is in full swing. My mind is filled with my students - how to reach them, how to teach them, how to give them what they need in the classroom every day. Right now it feels like all my creativity is leaking onto lesson plans. There's very little space in my head left for my invisible minions.

What do you do when you're stuck? What are some ways you block reality to get "in the zone"?


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Sounds like walking away is the smartest thing you can be doing right now. Let it percolate in your brain for a bit.

One other trick I've learned in my own writing is to rip out some of the most recent writing. A paragraph, a chapter. I've found that when I get stuck like you're describing, I've gone off course and it's merely a matter of finding where, so I can get back on track.

Good luck!

Cathy said...

I'm stuck right now, too. I've found that if I just let my subconscious work on it for a while, when I sit down to write again, the solution's generally right there.

Nancy Thompson said...

I can't write without an outline, so I don't really get stuck. But as far as endings go, I don't think it has to be a happy ending, just a resolution, of sorts. Readers can accept that it's not a fairy tale ending, but they don't like when things are resolved.

Lisa Regan said...

I take a step back, leave it alone for awhile, focus on other things. Also I go on a reading frenzy. Read a bunch of other books. That usually gets my juices flowing again! Best of luck!

Carrie Butler said...

I'm with Lisa. To get in the zone, I usally need to take a step back first. :)

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

Oh man, I hear you! I was in the same predicament with my verse novel. The ending wasn't what I anticipated and it was a huge struggle to even get there and decide on it.

As encouragement, many of the best stories aren't truly resolved. I mean, yes, you finish your arc, you tie up loose ends, and while literature isn't quite as messy as real life, it's okay to mirror a little of that.

My interest is definitely piqued for this book. Please send it to me when you finish! :D

Nicole said...

Okay, this sounds funny, but when I'm stuck I usually take a shower. Something about getting out of my head and relaxing just makes the ideas spark again. It's crazy how often I'll have the answer figured out then before the day's end. Good luck!