Ok, I don’t necessarily say that my armpits smell when I hit a snag in my writing, but it’s darned close. I’ve been hung up on chapter three of my novel, and I’ve managed to call myself every naughty word in the book – and a few that even curled the beagle’s ears.
I know getting stuck is a fact of life for writers. If I hear of any writer whose words flow forth with the fresh scent of daisies and lilacs, be wary of a roving band of Rottweilers wearing leather and chains; the beagle and I will have joined forces to quiet your quill. Yes, out of pure, unadulterated jealousy. I’m petty and small, dontcha know?
Bookshelves and blogs are jammed with advice on how to unstick an author. Walk away from it for a while, they say – which really does work, btw.
Just bang it out anyway, others insist. I’m not opposed to that idea. HOWEVER, what if it’s a pivotal chapter? If I just speed-write through it, I may have to do drastic rewrites downstream. I have no problem with rewrites, but a total restructure chafes my Vickie Secrets something awful.
So back to my misbehaving chapter 3. Veddy pivotal. Must rock. What to do? I’d decided to put the chapter in one POV, and that’s where the brakes screeched. It seemed so logical at the time, but every time I sat down to write it, the works smelled as badly as…well, my armpits after a ten-mile bike ride. I was convinced that my future as a novelist had just imploded and that I suck stale Twinkie cream.
Stubborn is as stubborn does
Is there anything worse than dealing with a Stubborn Suzie? That no matter what you suggest, Suzie shakes her head and tells you to go blow. “I know what I’m doing,” she insists.
And this is what happens when writers know too much. Or know enough to be dangerous. They grow blinders as to what simply flows out of their brains and try, instead, to force a square peg to fit into a round hole. Yet no matter how hard we try, it just doesn’t fit.
Shaddap and listen
Somewhere deep inside your firing synapses the answer is lurking oh-so quietly. Like an Army Ranger, it’s laying in wait, ready to spring out and blast its ordinance the minute you get close. So shaddap and listen. Put aside all the doubt – “Will this fit in the marketplace?” or “will an agent/editor think this story is overwritten?”
This is not the time to be asking those questions. This is the time to talk to your writer’s groups or your beta readers. Sometimes talking it out helps to figure out where that Army Ranger is hiding.
As for my elusive, naughty chapter 3, it turned out that I was writing it in the wrong POV. Sure helps when I take a shower, yanno?