Wednesday, March 02, 2016

IWSG: Walking and Plotting

I finally remembered to update the badge for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! (Miracles will never cease.) Since it's the first Wednesday of March, it's time to discuss struggles you have with your writing or offer words of encouragement to others. For more information, please follow the link above.

Many writers have different attitudes towards writer's block. For me, when I have trouble figuring out what to say next, that often means there's a problem with the story. However, it's one thing to realize that, and another to fix it, especially when you're still in first draft mode and don't have someone you can brainstorm with.

I've been having problems with Fifth Season, Book Four of the Season Avatars. I'm near the end of the book, and I have a fair idea of how the climax will play out. However, even though I had some ideas jotted down, the last few pages I'd written weren't quite gelling. I went back and added some emotional reaction after a dramatic revelation, but that still wasn't enough to link what I had with where I needed to go. In fact, I was about to make something happen, but it didn't feel right.

We were fortunate enough to have some unseasonably warm weather the last couple of weekends, so I took the opportunity to walk around the neighborhood and let my mind wander. (I'm surprised it ever comes back.) This often turns into good plotting time for me. On one of my walks, I figured out that if I changed what didn't feel right about the current action, it could set up some important plot events and character development for later on. Not only that, but it helped set up a chain of events that would lead into the climax.

I've had to spend the last couple of days revising what I had, but I should be ready to move forward during my next writing session. Sometimes breaking the routine slightly can help you get out of a mental rut.

What's your favorite way to break your writing routine? Do you do something physical, or change your setup? Feel free to share in the comments.


Pat Dilloway said...

Sometimes I like to take a drive but not when it snows six inches. Haha.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Someone else talked about walking this week. Exercise is great for the brain as well as the body. I've worked through some things at the gym. Otherwise, it's when I'm playing my guitar that the breakthrough comes.

Sandra Almazan said...

I'm very happy the most recent snowstorm didn't produce as much as predicted, Pat.

Alex, I guess sometimes focusing on something else allows your subconscious to work on the problem.

Maria Zannini said...

re: ...that often means there's a problem with the story.

Exactly! That's always been my assessment as well. Doing something mindless always helps because my subconscious tends to work on the problem in the background. Thinking about it right before I go to sleep helps too. 80% of the time, the answer comes to me by the time I wake up.

emaginette said...

If I were in your shoes, I'd do one of two things. First read a writing manual on anything just to free up my mind. I believe our brains work on our problems whether we are thinking about them or not. Or, second, start the scene again fresh without notes or sticking to a plan and see if it takes me where I want to go.

Good luck. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Lexa Cain said...

Yes! I'm exactly like this. I know when something's not working, but it takes a while to discover what it is and then figure out what I need to do to fix it. I'm glad walking works for you. Believe it or not, doing dishes works for me! LOL

Cherie Colyer said...

Like you, when I have trouble writing the next scene, it usually means something wasn't working in the early chapters or that I wasn't hard enough on my characters. I step away from the project and mull it over a while. I like to go for walks, cook, do some gardening, shop, or read a good book.

Sandra Almazan said...

I need to get more sleep anyway, Maria.

Thanks for the tips, Anna!

My husband normally does the dishes, Lexa, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind if I did them more often.

Cherie, taking a break and looking at the story with fresh eyes always helps.

Lidy Wilks said...

Sometimes the brain sparks happen while doing the laundry, the dishes, cooking or cleaning. More often than not, it even happens while asleep.

Sandra Almazan said...

First I'd have to get a good night's sleep, Lidy!

Jennifer Ruth Jackson said...

Getting out helps clear the cobwebs, especially out in nature.
If I have trouble getting fresh ideas, I make jewelry. Something about the creativity of designing the pattern and the repetition of carrying out the design really helps. Maybe because I "turn on" the creative side of my brain then switch to the analytical side.

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