Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Monday, February 13, 2012

HItting the Wall


Yesterday in church after the children's sermon, a three-year-old got lost on her way from the altar back to where she'd been sitting. Immediately, without consulting each other—or even glancing at each other—, her grandfather and her father jumped to their feet. One went up the left aisle; the other went up the right.

She was rescued before she realized she'd been headed in the wrong direction.

When my writing goes bad, I call it "hitting the wall". Sometimes it's because of something I can't control—in which case I don't worry about it too much. After all, editors change houses, lines are shut down, and sometimes industry professional just plain don't like something.

But most of the time when I have hit a wall, it's because I don't know where to go next. It gives me great comfort to know I have a whole pew full of people there for me. When I say, "I've hit a wall," some of them go up the left aisle, some of them go up the right. Pretty soon, I'm right where I need to be.

I hope I return the favor to those people. I try.

What do you do when you hit a wall?

13 comments:

  1. Usually when I hit a wall, it's because I've already made a wrong turn. I'm already lost. :-) It means going back, finding the wrong turn, and going in another direction.

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    1. That is sometimes my problem, but sometimes I am missing the obvious. Once we were working on something where the hero was a coach. It was fall. I didn't want to write too much about football because most people don't care. And it wasn't a book about football. I was telling all this to Kathy and she said. "Where is homecoming? You know how homecoming in small town is."

      Duh. The obvious. Of course, I guess I missed a turn too because I had to go back and set up homecoming.

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  2. When I hit the wall, I go through it. I once read- and I don't remember who said it- just write, good, bad or indifferent, just write. Write through the block even if you write the same thing over and over. Eventually the dam will break. I have taken that to heart and on the hit-the-wall days I keep writing, knowing full well that it's trash and won't be worth keeping. Momentum is a wonderful thing.

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  3. I love how you've used your observations at church to compare getting lost with writing, Jean!

    LJ said it best! We can get off-track easily enough. Look there's a rabbit! Lol! The key is finding your way back onto the track. The Grimm brothers wrote a tale about staying on the trail. Children were educated by Grimm fairytales and folktales to keep them on the straight and narrow path. As writers, our plots and characters are those guidelines but when the story takes on a life of it's own, it can seem like monstrous villains attacking the muse.

    Oh boy, not sure I'm making sense today. It was a good analogy when I first thought of it. Lol!

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    1. I compare everything to writing. It's all I think about.

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  4. I look for exit signs to find a way around. And I wonder, what does the wall look like on the other side? Hey! Maybe there's a secret passageway that can only be seen from the other side! Of course, it's likely a friend standing on that other side that shows me the hidden door. Because, after all, you KNOW I saw something shiny leading me entirely away from the wall.....LOOK! It's Eduardo Verastegui....

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    1. Maybe we could collaborate on a "Choose Your Own Adventure-Romance."

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  5. Recently I hit a wall. It doesn't happen to me very often, but it happened a few weeks ago. What I did to get out of it was I just started summarizing what I knew needed to happen for the rest of the book. I put the summarizing--about a page worth--in brackets and then went back and started writing what I had just summarized. It wasn't easy, but I pushed through. I'm still pushing through. I think I now have only 10K words to go.

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    1. It doesn't often happen to me either and it scared me to death the first time it did. Yea for be almost finished!

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  6. What LJ said. When I hit a wall, it's because I did something wrong a few chapters back, and my subconscious is refusing to let me take another step until I go back and fix whatever it was I did wrong. It's usually just a small detail, but ultimately an important one. And it usually takes me about a week before my subconscious spits out what that wrong step was. It's as if it waits for me to get the right answer, then when I don't it finally gives up and tells me :-).

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    1. There must be something to the subconscious working it out for me too. I once dreamed the answer and it was nothing I had ever thought off before. You should have seen me tearing down the hall in the middle of the might to get to the computer. But those were the days when I was terrified that if I didn't get it down RIGHT NOW I would never get the words back. I've learned I can make a few notes and wait until the sun rises.

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  7. I am so sorry I did not answer any of you yesterday. One of the Virginia cousins was able to get away from the medical conference she was attending in Birmingham so we ate Thai food, went for coffee, and visited Mike's Merchandise so she could look at the random scary medical supplies they sell there.

    She only bought a stethoscope name tag since she has lost her stethoscope and it didn't have her name on it.

    We also talked a lot about surgery. Not that am having one. But I know some things now if I ever have a character who is a surgeon.

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