Or, Adventures In Distracting The Infernal Editor
I don’t know about you, but my writer’s block has a name. I call it the Infernal Editor, mainly because if I’m stuck at a road block and can’t see where I need to go it’s because he’s snatched the next bit of story and run off with it, laughing evilly. Or because he’s blocked my view like a big hiney in front of a TV. Because, yanno, he is one. Every writer has that internal voice screaming “No, go that way!” or switching the road signs in the direction of an unexpected cliff. Even as I type this, he’s bouncing up and down, going “What did you write THAT for? That’s not helpful or witty or in any way good. Hey, is that a Starbucks?”
See how he tried to lure me off track like that? The Infernal Editor is indeed a worthy foe—crafty, malicious, and determined to make us doubt ourselves and our talent. Sometimes he even appears in the guise of logic or Writer’s Little Helper. A tricksy trickster, that one.
Fortunately, there’s more than one way to skin a Cheshire Cat.
Chain Of Events
This is where I grab a notebook and pen and run off somewhere the Infernal Editor can’t find me. Then, beginning at my last key scene or plot point, I summarize the action in short lines of action, image, or dialogue up to the point where I got stuck. It's important to do this by memory. If I’ve gone wrong anywhere or missed something this is where I usually find it. Don’t sweat mechanics or grammar or anything remotely technical—this is about discovery, and the point is to get rid of the little bastard, not encourage him. He’s usually so stricken by the lack of punctuation (not to mention coherency) he can’t form words.
Spinning Down The Page
By the time I reach the road block a solution usually crops up, and I can continue alternating action-image-dialogue in any order that comes natural. Writing hot, breathing deep, leaving the Infernal Editor shaking his fists impotently in my rearview mirror, all the way until the next key scene or plot point, destination in clear view.
Getting It Down
Time to put it all into the computer. Using my notebook, I can now put it all into actual words. By now my brain is so into the groove things I never initially considered pop up like jack-in-the-boxes, waving their little hands, going “Pick me, pick ME!” This is where I come up with some of my best writing, because my brain is warmed up and purring nicely. And I go with it, because the Infernal Editor is still panting to catch up. And then it’s my turn to chortle an evil little laugh. Bwa-ha-ha-haaaa.
An evil laugh can be good for the writer’s soul, as long as it’s your own.
In other news (or maybe not-so-news), it appears I can't count. I think I lost a week somewhere. I blame it on proximity to the Bermuda Triangle (hey, it worked for the XFiles, didn't it?). Anyway, I'm not going to be able to finish Act I before the end of this round. But that's okay. Life (and other things) happen. As soon as I do finish Act I, and if I don't have my edit letter for Brighid's Cross yet, I'm going to rescue an old novella from trunk exile and make a valiant attempt at repurposing it for Intrepid Editor (not to be confused with the Infernal Editor, who is not lovely and patient and kind). I've found that alternating projects like this keeps me fresh.
What I have accomplished was a scene sequence connecting my Opening Scene to my Inciting Incident. Sounds impressive, I know, but what it boils down to is I've got Chapter 1 and three of four plot threads started, as well as FK's First Encounter with the Minstrel. Now I'm plugging away at connection the Inciting Incident to Plot Point 1 and FK's First Encounter with the Imperial Assassin (and the final plot thread).
So. Time to cheer on our fellow ROW-ers, here. Good luck to everyone this week!