The problem with being a writer is that I always feel that I should be writing. Having fun with family? Should be writing. Watching TV? Should be writing. At the dentist? Should be writing.
But the fact is that I can’t always be writing, and The Shoulds aren’t helping. While it’s true that writing takes commitment and discipline, it also takes thoughts and ideas. It is very, very difficult to have an idea by sitting down and trying to force yourself to have an idea. It is much easier to have an idea in the shower, or while you’re driving, or even at the dentist.
Writing also requires revision. And by that, I don’t necessarily mean line-edits—I mean reconsidering and analyzing your vision for the work. Yesterday, I was feeling enormous resistance about my work-in-progress. I didn’t want to write it. I didn’t want to look at it. It felt boring and insipid to me.
I’m currently mentoring writers, and I had just suggested to one that she step back from her manuscript to consider the characters. What do they want? Why do they want it? What will they do to get it? How do others describe them? How would they describe themselves? I suggested that she take a look at the exercises in Secrets of the Plot Goddess and take the time to understand what was driving the characters’ behavior and decision-making.
It occurred to me to get curious about my resistance. I felt that my story was boring…was it? If so, did I need to take my own advice, and stop writing long enough to reconsider my characters? I decided that I did. So I actually got out a copy of my own book and did the exercises. I captured the answers under the Characters+ section in my Bookflow project. And guess what?
I figured it out. Yes, I struggled with feeling as if I “should” have spent the morning writing instead of noodling around with my characters’ wants. But that noodling has clarified everything, and now I can see how to move forward in a way that will be funny and heartfelt instead of boring. Pretty important.
If you’re feeling as if your work-in-progress needs re-vision, I suggesting taking a break from writing to analyze your characters. If you haven’t read Secrets of the Plot Goddess yet, you’ll find some helpful thoughts in Chapters 4-7 that will get you unstuck.
“This book gave me everything I needed to get unstuck, and figure out what needed to happen next. I even re-plotted the whole thing and saw it clearly for the first time.” —Amazon Review