Hitting the Wall

I thought this hello-I’m-online-again-finally post would be something about the Internet and how I’d always thought that having constant access to the Web was an obstacle to writing. After all, almost every writer knows the mixed blessing/curse of such easy (fun!) access to, well, everything . . .

And I thought you’d all be surprised that when I found myself without access for three weeks, rather than write up a storm, finish eight projects, and win a Pulitzer (Yes, I seriously thought the World Wide Web was that much of a holder-backer!), I didn’t even open my novel. I wrote nothing new in it or for it. Not a word.

I can hear your disbelieving, shocked, “Whaaaaaaat?” from here. And I know. It’s absolutely bizarre. I tried to explain the strange result. I thought maybe it was because the draw of expected e-mails, the intrigue and interest of new blog posts, the fun of forums lured me to my computer and then, once I was done procrastinating, I felt compelled to write since I was on my computer anyway. And maybe there’s something in that.

But, as I’ve had my Internet back for almost a week and no new words in my novel have poured forth, despite being at my computer often and regardless of the fact that I have a lot of ideas churning for my story, I had to wonder if maybe it was something else keeping me from my story.

Then two nights ago I was getting dressed in my bedroom and I heard an animated, filled-with-laughter discussion between some family members and my husband out in our driveway. When I came out to say “Hi,” however, there was no one there. Just my husband. In the living room. In his chair. I still don’t know who I heard; it was very weird! And just like one of those old fashioned locks where pressing just the right spot triggers all kinds of sprockets to sproing and gears to engage, I knew what was wrong, why I hadn’t written!

In every novel I’ve written, I’ve come to place where I hit a wall. Where my write-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, no outline, no plan, style absolutely fails me. Where I’m sure that’s it, the book is dead, there’s not enough story to continue with . . . Unfortunately, though it’s obviously part of my writing-system, the wall always reveals itself differently. I never see it coming until I crash into it.

And this time the wall was its most subtle yet, just a series of quiet, unsettling questions that wouldn’t answer themselves and general angst that wouldn’t articulate itself . . .

That strange overhead conversation and laughter that I still have no idea about where it came from was the answer, however. I know what my book was missing and where exactly it’s going now. It does call for a rewrite right away, but I’m okay with that. I used to believe in writing the whole first draft, no stops. Now I often stop when I realize something’s not quite right and go back and fix it immediately.

Tomorrow I will commence a read through with notes, then the rewriting, then a 1-3 line plan for each chapter until the end. I’d be glum that it looks like I won’t hit my goal of having this book at third draft by October 21st, but I’m too happy: the Internet has been found innocent and my book is back on track. The wall wasn’t impenetrable. It ended up having a lovely huge arched doorway with a gothic-styled gate and a key just for me hanging on a velvet cord.

8 thoughts on “Hitting the Wall

  1. Poor Internet, so wrongly accused! 😉 Congratulations on discovering that invisible wall. And thank goodness you didn’t get too bloodied bashing against it before it became known.

    I write in a similar way to you, that is: I write knowing nothing until that doesn’t work anymore, then I outline. I don’t think I outline as clearly as you do (I’ve never done the 1-3 line plan for every chapter) but I am coming near the point where I’ll have to realize what’s going on and start making those notes. I hope I remember this post and its insights when I do!


  2. Heh heh–yeah, the poor, badly maligned Internet! 😉

    >>I don’t think I outline as clearly as you do (I’ve never done the 1-3 line plan for every chapter) <<<

    That was just the easiest way to describe what I do. It's more a list of short points that translate into chapters as I go, i.e.:

    – So and so discovers X. She doesn't know what to do with the news–and M gets into an accident interrupting everything.

    – L and J have a cataclysmic fight.

    – Figure out where K is and what she's up to re: what happened in Ch. 6.

    Etc, etc! The "outlines" themselves are still pretty open and cryptic, but they get me where I need to go. 🙂


  3. Congrats! Good to hear that you’re back on track. I recently encountered the same thing and had to outline the rest of the book (which I never do). But it was a huge relief when done, and the writing’s coming a lot easier now.


  4. Thanks, Jennifer! And yes, I do know the link between the voices and the undoing of the block (though I confess at first read of your comment, I was like, Gleep, how does she know about the voices in my head? Then I remembered . . . Ah, the voices that triggered the epiphany! :D). I can’t tell you what the link is though–you’ll have to read the story one day. 😉


  5. Thank you, Holli. 🙂

    It’s very cool that you just had a similar experience–I love how writing novels varies. So far my writing experiences for each book have been very different!

    And I’m glad to hear the writing’s coming easier for you after outlining a bit–I hope the same will be true for me.


  6. So glad you’re back on track. Unfortunately, these things do happen to a writer from time to time. Is it even possible to be a continual fountain of words? Sometimes I need a break from it all.

    Nice to have you back!


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