Picture this: A faucet. It can be outside or inside, dealers choice. For me, I’ll pick an inside one due to the weather at the moment. Frozen water is never fun or comfortable (especially in your own home when you have to pay to repair the pipes yourself). Now, turn it on. Don’t be shy, turn it all the way on until you can’t turn that knob any further and watch the water pour out. Run, baby, run!
Now – get a rock and stuff it into the faucet.
Whoops, it’s not flowing right any more, it’s either spraying all over the place or stopped completely. Never mind what is happening to the pipes themselves, we’ll freak over that in a moment. Right now our primary focus is the water flowing.
Writing is a lot like water pressure I’ve found. On the good days the pressure is high, the faucet is clear and the water flows. On the bad days the pressure is low and it trickles out, or worse it’s a drip, drip, drip of nothing.
Then you have the days when you shove a rock inside because you have a plan and damn it, you’re going to stick to that plan if it kills you!
Welcome to a writer‘s trap as I like to call it. Writing is an organic process, we have to flow with the fickle mistress known as creativity, follow her by the hook in our nose. Sometimes we get it in our fool heads that we’re going to tame her to our will, make the story (and the Muse) obey our wishes instead of the other way around. That’s the rock. I firmly believe that phrase of a rock and a hard place was spoken with a writer in mind. If it wasn’t it should have been! Sadly, though, we’re both the rock and the hard place.
I was having an issue with a character that I took from a bombed short story, salvaged him and moved him to Crescent Knights (CK). I did it because I enjoyed having him around so much and he’s so well-developed that I can’t help but want to use him…
*entertains naughty thought*
… okay, I’m back now. I thought my issue was the salvage process. In the bombed story he served as a catalyst in tipping a character off the proverbial reservation from toeing the company line into becoming a mercenary. He did a beautiful job at it and was exceptional at being an obsessive stalker, but in CK he’s not a stalker but a cracker jack Agent. Not the best (i.e. not Bourne or Bond, but like Tony from 24 in season 1 minus the jealousy issues), but damn good at his job. However, when making a major change to the primary MO of a character is a change of perception as a writer. I had to go from loving him as a stalker (and writing him as a stalker) to writing and loving him as something else. It’s in his personality, he’s capable of being a good guy (relatively speaking, he’s still a jerk but now it’s only because he’s a womanizer who believes he’s a gift for all women), but the issue was mine.
At least, as I already said, I thought it was the problem. I was wrong though. I mean, really, really wrong. On a whim, I opted to try a different tactic to Chapter 6. Before he and his partner were in a room while Alex and her party walked in on them doing surveillance. Twenty minutes before dinner, I decided to move them out of the room, off their butts and into a coffee shop while they trail the target. Two nights ago it took me about 40 minutes to write out 800+ words in the scene with them sitting in a room watching – doing nothing except drinking coffee. Today, in less than 20 minutes I wrote 600+ in the scene of them in the coffee shop. I went from sitting still to moving and BAM, my character is happy again. Still a jerk, but now he’s a happy jerk.
The lesson of my experience is two-fold.
1. Don’t fight creative expression, or the organic nature of writing. However you wish to phrase it is fine by me, but in either case, the more you fight it the worse the water is splashing everywhere and making a mess.
2. If you’re struggling to turn out the words/pages of a scene, it may not be the scene or the character. It’s probably the writer instead (aka, me) that is screwing up and needs to look at it from the opposite end of the problem.
I’m of the firm belief that when I write I want it to be worthy of the effort. My time is limited with everything that is going on in my life. Many ‘struggling to be published writers’ are in the same fix. We, sadly, are not able to turn out five pages or more of writing a day then go back the next to take out three with a heavy sigh. The one hour we can siphon (if we’re lucky) has to be able to produce a worthy product that, if possible, will only require a deletion of a few sentences at worse.
These two lessons above will hopefully, if my stubborn head will absorb them that is, will make that easier. In theory, but of course I love theories so wish me luck. In the interest of this principle (the one of writing productively in a limited amount of time) does anyone else have some worthy lessons to impart? Wisdom for the unwise so to speak?
If so, share! Don’t be shy! I won’t bite… hard… promise!
- Reflection and Lessons Learned (?) On Writing the Daimones Trilogy (djlightfoot.wordpress.com)
- The Process of Writing (mslewiswrites.wordpress.com)
- Lesson 5 for Extraordinary Writers (kaavon28.wordpress.com)
- Lessons From Writing 750 Words a Day for 365 Days (bennesvig.com)