Let’s take a break from all of that Kindle Scout yelling, shall we?
I could empathize.
I had been stuck been before. Not too long ago. Stuck for a very long time.
So I wrote this reply and I thought I would blog about it here so that you folks who might likewise be suffering from a bad case of the if-it-isn’t-brilliant-I-can’t-write-it syndrome.
Remember – at the end of the day you need to finish one of those manuscripts. The thing that is most likely slowing you down is the thought that it has to be something brilliant. Tell yourself this. All that you need to do right now is to finish ONE of those half-finished manuscripts into first draft format.
And a first draft does not have to be anything more brilliant than a steaming pile of dog funk, wrapped in a second hand Tupperware container.
It doesn’t have to brilliant.
It doesn’t have to be wonderful.
It just needs to be done.
Figure out where you want the story to go and then run until you get there.
THEN – sit down and have a beer and smile contentedly. Go rake the lawn or go for a walk or listen to the cat complain that she doesn’t have enough fish in her bowl.
THEN – after you have given yourself enough time to breathe and feel comfortable, pick up that steaming piece of Tupperware and pull out a Popsicle stick and commence to sculpting.
Getting past the mid-ground is a little like getting over a hill and running on home. Right now you are on the wrong side of the hill and you are terrified about what might be on the other side of the hill. Oh God, you tell yourself – what if I get over there and there is lions on the other side of the hill. What if I get there and every single bully who ever picked on me in school is standing there and pointing at me and telling me that my writing sucks.
You can call it boredom if you want to – but I will bet you a box of cut-tomato-tins-in-two Ginsu knives that it is nothing more than fear wearing a mask of creative ennui.
Grit your teeth and go for it. Remember that you are doing nothing more than stringing words together. It’s just like talking to yourself on paper. It isn’t rocket science.
Outlining might help you – but don’t get all hung up thinking it has to be a picture perfect outline. Just lay the bare-bones of the plot together. Look at your manuscript and decide that you want your hero to live happily ever after – once he has successfully out-wrestled the giant Tupperware Ginsu knife wielding Ennui – and lay a few perfunctory footprints down for that hero to follow and then go for it.
Try laying your manuscript in a pile on one side of your dining room table. Take a look at what chapter you left off at – say it’s Chapter 7.
Then take a blank piece of paper and write CHAPTER 8 at the top of it and then scribble yourself a note over what needs to get done in Chapter 8.
Chapter 8 – our hero needs to go and sharpen his own Ginsu knife.
Then take another blank piece of paper and write CHAPTER 9. Maybe you don’t what Chapter 9 needs to be. Well write that down. “I have no freaking idea what Chapter 9 is.”
Then blank paper out Chapter 10 – and write down – our hero needs to get lucky because every ginsu-knife epic novel needs a little gratuitous sex scenes in it.
Then just sort of rough track yourself towards the last Chapter, which is Chapter 13, where our hero does a high-spirited manly jig of victory over the Tupperware bones of his fallen foe.
This isn’t rocket science. Don’t try and impress yourself. Just give yourself permission to play and have fun. Finishing the first draft is the big part of the battle. Once you have that first draft, lying there like the bones of a gigantic Tupperware Frankenstein monster then you start to sculpt into something divine and wonderful – like maybe a glittering vampire.
I want to apologize in advance to any TWILIGHT fans who read that last gag – but I am an incurable wise guy.
Speaking of commercials…
Yours in Storytelling,