Dead Ends or U-Turns

I finished a chunk of my book this week. It felt like this huge victory. Yes! Done. And then I stared at the cursor blinking and stared….and stared, and my fingers hovered over the keys and there was nothing else. I’d finished this section that I’d been planning and working on, and I hadn’t put much thought into what came next.

The same day, I had a conversation with my daughter. She’s been doing gymnastics for about a year, and is so motivated to perfect these new skills she’s learning. She’s focused on getting every step correct. Beginning, middle, and then she gets so excited that she’s getting close to getting it right, she forgets to finish well, so she can go onto the next step.

I have the same problem. It takes me a while to get started, and then I get too focused on getting this piece done that I lose the big picture. I forget this is only a little section of the whole.

I’ve been doing some research on writers and their processes. There’s one piece I was reading recently. His recommendation was that you should brainstorm as many of the scenes you expect to have at the very beginning. Then add to it as you go. As things change or develop, then you edit and rearrange and change those scenes as necessary.

I liked the idea. I’ve never been an outliner. I hated writing outlines even in my high school English classes. I think I even wrote them after the fact most of the time. (Sorry, Mrs. R.) But, I feel like I need some planning organization. I tend to write what comes to mind, and then move to whatever comes next. I think, though, that this is a process that I can incorporate. I can walk through the very basics of where I want to go, which maybe will help me figure out how to get from one place to the next.

I’m giving it a try. My writing this week looked a lot different after I finished that section than it has over the last few months. I spent quite a bit of time figuring out where I’d been, reviewing what events I’d covered, and then I spent a bunch of time figuring out where I want to go. What major events do I still need? What portions of this story still need told, and how am I going to make for sure they get told?

It was a stretching activity. At one point, it required a drive and a sweet treat, because my brain was overloaded. But, as I ended the day, I felt like I had turned that dead end I’d hit, into a u-turn. I’d figured out a way to cope, and hopefully incorporated something into my writing routine that will help me avoid that brick wall.

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