Fiction, Novel, Writing

Self-sabotage

I suppose there are many ways to sabotage your writing. I’ve done it a couple of times. Ahem. Partly because of that, I’ve progressed with my current novel at about the same pace I could chisel it in stone.

Apparently, my latest obstacle was a scene I won’t get to for several chapters.

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This scene is a big moment. A black moment. My protagonist’s worst fear come true. I’ve been writing steadily toward it, laying the groundwork. No worries, right? Okay. Part of my brain has been preoccupied with it. Dreading it. Partially paralyzed with worry over it, evidently.

I didn’t realize that was my problem. I’ve been laying the blame on other things. Maybe the structure is off. Maybe the voice isn’t quite right. Maybe the story is just plain stupid.

And then this past Thursday night, as I was falling asleep, I thought about the three “frame” scenes that I wrote a year ago. The second one connects to this black moment. In this scene my protagonist tells her husband she no longer trusts him. That word trust seemed to jump up and down saying, “Me, me, pay attention to me.” I fell asleep thinking about trust.

The next morning, I opened my WIP to where I’d stopped writing the day before. I wrote a couple of sentences, and then checked email, Facebook, and my blog reader. I finished that paragraph, and then explored new blog themes, added notes for a few scenes to my WIP’s timeline file, and looked around on Goodreads. You get the picture. I squeezed out 142 words in all.

While I took a break for dinner, the word trust popped up in my mind again. I considered what it meant for my protagonist to trust someone. And POW! I heard her say: You destroyed the thing I needed most from you. And that was just the beginning of their conversation.

“I have to get this down,” I told my husband. I rushed to the keyboard and typed out 1,305 words in a non-stop frenzy. I sat looking at it, amazed. I even posted my accomplishment to my Facebook page. I couldn’t believe a scene I thought would be difficult to write had flowed so easily.

But the best thing is, after I got that scene out of the way, I went back to the point I left off in my manuscript and the words kept flowing. In all, since Friday evening, I’ve added 5,103 words to my novel draft.

So, yeah. I’m a happy writer this morning. And like I said on Facebook, this is another reminder not to curse your Muse when it seems she’s being stingy. She’s probably hard at work in the background. Possibly while you sleep.

26 thoughts on “Self-sabotage”

  1. Ok first, I laughed out loud at your “chisel it in stone” comment, because I’ve sooo been there. I’m in a constant progression now, not necessarily flowing, but still moving forward. I’m glad to hear you had some great inspiration lately! That’s an awesome word count for those eureka moments! They’re the best, aren’t they? Why can’t the whole book be that way.

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    1. Steady progress would have been great, Jess, but I’ve struggled with this book, so this dam break is definitely welcome. Why can’t we always have these awesome daily word counts? I think our Muses like to remind us that writing is hard work. 🙂

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  2. That’s awesome, Linda. Congratulations! It’s also a good word for us all and I thank you for that. It’s pretty much how I write, anyway; waiting on that muse.
    Keep up the good work, my friend.

    -Jimmy

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  3. This new book I’m writing has been like pulling teeth. For the first time, the words are gushing out – but I know it’s because I’m doing something different and I’m letting fear of failure get in my way.

    I love it when those things you described happen – it did happen with this book, despite my fits and starts – that “aha!” moment that changes the thrust and flow of the story!

    You go!

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  4. I’ve started writing, again! But I’ll stop that conversation right here – LOL. Anyway, there is nothing like a break and a dash of outside perspective (or distraction) to recharge. I’m glad you’re new novel is cooking along! I love it when something finally clicks. The clarity is instantaneous – but also fleeting at times.

    BTW – thanks for the new Goodreads friendship. It has been a challenge to tighten my lose connections and get rid of the wires that led to nowhere. But I’m making progress. Writer – Reader – Poet. Three different personifications that desperately needed to be sent to opposite corners if they were to survive.

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    1. K. McGee, by “started writing, again” do you mean started writing fiction again? I didn’t think you’d stopped writing poetry.

      Fleeting? Indeed. The center of that particular moment of clarity is firm, but the edges are a little blurred now. However, that hasn’t stopped the flow of words.

      Yeah, I struggle with the writer vs. reader thing on Goodreads, but I only have one account. I know someone who deleted the book list she had compiled under her author name after she was published. I do and don’t understand that, so I’m just in limbo.

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      1. Oh, yes! I should have clarified. I did mean fiction. But I’m only working on a single project. So it’s not that I’m taking on the world of authorship with any grand design or thoughts of mass production. We’ll see how well the first book is publicly received before I commit to anything more. In the past I’ve tried to put the cart before the horse and I fear that has caused much of my anxiety past anxiety. Since my metamorphosis, I’ve focused only on what’s in front of me right now. It’s been liberating.

        As for my Goodreads account I thought it time for people to see me as a real person. Not as a list of where I’ve been, but where I am now. So I’m only listing books as I read them. I’m also only reading books that will keep my attention (which as you know is hard to do – LOL) and I’m posting a review when I’ve finished. (I use the word review loosely – it’s more personal insight and reflection than a review of the author’s craftsmanship.) I couldn’t think of a better way for anyone to get to know me as a person than to see what I read and allow them inside my head.

        For three years I tried to be what the mainstream wanted, or at least expected to see. Now it’s time to be myself.

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        1. Yay, for your lessened anxiety, K. 🙂 And the best to you on your fiction work.

          Interesting way to use Goodreads. I started my Goodreads account before I published, though I rarely write reviews or even “reflections”, so I do have many books listed that don’t reflect my current interests. Unfortunately, I don’t read many books nowadays, so I’m not sure how much anyone would learn about me if I deleted all but the few books I’ve read in the last year. I certainly wouldn’t want them to get the idea I not only don’t read a lot now, but never have—can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. 😉

          I’m glad you’ve figured out who you are so you can be yourself. 🙂 Except—you’re only an initial?

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