Monday, December 17, 2012

You Can't Get There From Here



I’m on the verge of starting my second book.  And by that I mean, literally ready to sit down at my desk and type the whole thing out.  I’m almost done with my outline, which, in reality, is more like a first draft, albeit handwritten and sans setting and most dialogue.  But, even though I prefer to finish my outline before I get started, I’m a bit antsy and raring to go.

I think it’s because the story excites me so much.  But part of it’s because, even though I’m seventy-five percent done—and that doesn’t even include the climax, which I’ve already figured out in my head—I’m just not sure how to get that small remaining percentage down.  It’s only like maybe twenty percent of the story, yet, even though I know how it ends, I can’t quite see how to get there from here. 

I hope that sitting down and pounding it out from the beginning will enable this small fraction of the story to emerge and complete itself.  But I’m worried.  I’ve never been blocked before, and I’m not even certain this is actually what blocked looks like.  I mean, I sat down last night and handwrote another chapter.  And boy was I surprised.  It was so dark, so gritty, so violent and emotionally draining, I had to take a step back, it upset me so much.  That can’t be blocked, right? 

I’ve been worried about this for a while now, yet every time I sit down, I manage to progress, to move forward, to write another chapter.  And I still have plenty of notes.  But still, this veil shrouding my last few miles concerns me.  Hell, it downright disturbs me.  But I guess this is what writing by the seat of your pants feels like.  Right? 

I’ve heard being a pantser is freeing, but I don’t like it one bit. 


What about you?  Ever had your vision so cloudy,
you can’t quite determine the path your story should take? 




28 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd feel the same. (And I started writing my last book because if I added anymore to the outline, I would be writing it.)
Often things fall into place once you begin writing. Just start writing - I'm sure once you get to that point, you'll know what happens.

Annalisa Crawford said...

The novel I'm (re)writing at the moment is all over the place, without an ending, without a path towards the ending, but by writing I'm discovering all sorts of new things that I hadn't considered before. Good luck!

Natalie Aguirre said...

It sounds like you've got a lot of this outlined out. So I agree with Alex, just start writing. That actually helped me get through my own block even though I know where my story is going.

JeffO said...

Beomg a wingman is like driving a car down a dark road. You can see what your headlights illuminate, but nothing beyond that. However, each foot you drive means another foot further along illuminated by the lights. Drive on! Write on!

And I'm looking forward to hearing more about this next piece!

Luanne Smith said...

Yep, I'm a pantser, and yes I get stuck all the time. I've been stuck all weekend as a matter of fact. Writing is mostly a slog for me, but I do continue to make forward progress, so that's something. I really envy those people who can blaze through a first draft quickly, start to finish. Well, mostly I want to beat them over the head, but that's not very Christmas-y, is it? :P

cleemckenzie said...

I'm what I call a "semi-pantser." I start with an idea, write it down, modify it, write some scenes or an end or a beginning. Then I wrestle the through-line into two or three sentences. Then I just write the darned thing.

Nicky Wells said...

Keep writing. The remaining journey will come to you quite suddenly; it's brewing and percolating in your head. Have faith and enjoy the trip! x

Melissa said...

I'm at 66k of an 80k WIP, and elements of the climax still elude me. Don't stop. Jot down ideas as they come to you and tweak them as needed. By the time you get there, the details will fall into place. :)

Samantha May said...

My pants sag a bit :D

My outlines are very detailed in some areas and in others...eh not so much!

Dana Mason said...

I believe you can worry yourself into being blocked. You should look for a positive way to forget about it and keep moving forward. Sit down and start typing and I bet the answer comes when you're not looking for it.
Sometimes just a minor switch in position can spark an idea. You might just need to switch from handwriting to typing to sort of...grease the wheels.
Good Luck, Nancy! The story sounds good but heavy, I hope your finding things outside the novel to cheer you up. Merry Christmas.

Andrew Leon said...

I wish I had magic advice to give you, but I don't. I'm not a pantser not am I a plotter. Well, I am a plotter but only in that I work things out in my head ahead of time. I don't make outlines or anything like that. Sometimes, I make notes but not always.

When I'm not sure what where I'm going with something, I like to take the dog for a walk. It usually helps. And there's actual scientific data to support why it does. The physical activity stimulates the brain and helps you to think more clearly. A lot of best ideas have come during walks. Then I just have to remember what they are when I get back home.

Heather Gardner said...

I agree with Alex.

Start writing and it will work itself out for you.

It could be your brain trying to tell you it doesn't like something or you forgot something but you're not going to know until you get to that point.

Trust yourself!

Get going!

Heather

Ciara said...

Congrats on finishing the outline! I like, at a minimum, a basic outline. It helps prevent rewrites.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Like several others have said, just begin writing. The path will become clear once you are into the natural flow of the story.

Lynda R Young said...

Yep, I get that a lot, but usually only in the outlining stage. That's when I go to my whiteboard and start writing down silly ideas until one isn't so silly.

Good luck with your second book. It's great you're super excited about it.

Morgan said...

Oh my gosh. And I'm SO the opposite! How funny, Nancy. Outlining makes me freeze up... it's the lovely blank page ahead of me that makes the words flow... Fascinating process, all of this.

Chuck said...

Since I've heard that 75% of the climax IS in your head...sorry couldn't resist. I am super excited you are writing another book. After The Mistaken, I have become a Thompson Groupie!!

I am sure you're not blocked but maybe just not focused. Looking forward to reading your dark gritty chapter, Nancy!

Carrie Butler said...

I feel your pain! I'm at the point where the picture is coming together, but I'm still missing a few puzzle pieces... Bleh!

Ellie Garratt said...

You need to start writing and ignore the niggling worries - they will sort themselves out. You can do it!

Donna K. Weaver said...

I tried outlining once and it was a dismal failure. I'm a panster all the way. But that doesn't mean I don't know--in my head--where I want the story to end up. So, perhaps not a total panster.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Nancy, I understand too. I had 39K written as of Nov 1st, and today I have 47K. I'm reaching a part that takes me out of my element. Part of the problem is the season. So much to do and mark down for later. I don't seem to have the quiet moments I need to really formulate the next scene. I keep putting a halt to the action in my mind.

Ne'er fear, you and me will get our WIPs written, AND they'll be blockbusters!

Merry Christmas!

Kelley Lynn said...

Haha. I am like 90% panster, so the idea of having a plan to get through the book is something that just doesn't happen for me. I have a few scenes that will be in the book but as far as where they'll fit and how I get there... no one knows :)

Good luck! A blank screen is SO fun!

Nicky Wells said...

Morning, Nancy! Hope you're feeling much more inspired after all these fabulous comments you've received. Go write!

I love your blog and visit regularly, even if I don't always have time to leave a comment. You have a great community going on here! Therefore, I think you're deserving of a little star... come and collect it at my blog from today: http://wp.me/p1HzVM-NZ Congrats!

You don't have to accept this award but it's not a lot of work if you choose to, and rather a lot of glittery fun! Happy Xmas!

LTM said...

This happened to me with the book I just finished. I started it in 2010, got about 15K words into it, and then ... stopped. I had no idea where it was going!

Summer came, I wrote Rouge, I wrote another book, and then last month, watching CONTACT, it hit me... EUREKA!

And I finished it.

Now I don't think it'll take you two years, but maybe do something else for a bit, then come back to it???

Good luck!

And have a wonderful holiday! <3

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Um, yeah, I usually feel that way. I thought every writer did. Gulp.

You've NO WORRIES, Nancy. You're clearly in the zone. Keep writing. You won't stop until you're done with your next novel.

xoRobyn

Al Penwasser said...

I think I'm a "fly by the seat of my pants" writer. Intuitively, I can't believe that is a terribly efficient way to go. But, my books (listen to how pretentious I frikkin' sound!) usually take a life of their own. After several chapters, it's like the characters are saying, "Hey, dumbass! THIS is how it should end. Trust me."
So, help me, I often listen to those little buggers.
Because I can BE a dumbass.

klahanie said...

Nancy!

I know your second book will be a success. However, you better hurry up and finish it.

Yes, I'm now typing from another dimension. Stay tuned, if you can....

Lisa Regan said...

You're not blocked! And don't worry, we both know that things can be toned down later! LOL. This is how I write all the time. It is incredibly frustrating but sometimes fumbling in the dark is the only way to do it. I find the actual writing usually solves all the problems though.