Writer’s Block: A Ramble

In my opinion, NaNoWriMo is a very inconvenient length. Granted, this might be a little biased on my part, since it seems that my first foray into the murky waters of NaNo left me at the beginning of December in a prime position for one of the largest cases of Writer’s Block I’ve had in a long time.

I know there are a lot of authors out there who talk about writer’s block not existing, and to a large degree, I agree with them. Writer’s block, when it equals “I don’t feel like it” generally leads to less productivity than might otherwise be hoped. I’ve found that, even when I don’t feel like writing, if I can goad myself to write at least a few hundred words, I generally hit a ‘stride’ and can pump out a fair day’s writing before I stop.

However, far be it from me to deny writer’s block existing at all, because then there is this lovely phenomenon wherein the planned outline either fails utterly or is shown to have some gaping holes which need filling with things that need to be thought up, and cannot be drawn from elsewhere in the painstakingly-created outline with its buildups of delicate tension.
Can you tell I’m a little bitter?

My problem ended up being solved about four days later, after about three hundred words that contributed absolutely nothing to the story except for a rather atmospheric description of the city walls at night. It took a car trip to the bus station and a captive friend willing to let me talk at her to do it, but I did figure it out. With a solution I usually scoff at.

I’m a little bit of a control freak when it comes to my stories, you see. The older I get, the more I tend towards outlining. It makes me feel a little sad to lose some of that flippant freedom of my youth, but I get stuck and lost much less often, and I’ve always had a propensity for imagining out the scenes that make me gleeful in advance anyway, so perhaps it’s just better to surrender to the side of me that wants a basic timeline before I start writing. Whenever I see an author recommending “just blow something up” as a system (even understanding it is very rarely meant literally), part of me cringes. Introduce a new character in the conflict, move some conflict ahead, certainly, but introduce a random act of happenstance that doesn’t further the main plot at all simply to add some tension and stall time until some of the main plot tension can be released? What a horrendously inappropriate idea! Why, at the very best, think of all the later editing it would cause!

But that was, apparently, before I learned the sheer satisfaction of throwing a group of soldiers at a city’s PR people, emphasising their unfortunate ability not to be hampered by agate walls. Sure, maybe it has quite little to do with the main plot … but perhaps it helps a couple of subplots out in some subtle ways, and perhaps it might be the instigator for some Character Development …
Whatever the reason, it’s sure as sugar better than another Deep and Meaningful Conversation Scene, so maybe a little editing down the line is worth it.

Feel free to mention any personal frustrations with writer’s block … or ideas for getting out of it.

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