Writer vs Words

There are times when the story I’m writing, despite how good its premise is, just doesn’t appear to want to be written. Take, for example, the one I’m currently working on, tentatively titled Eating Out. I am currently on my third attempt at getting it written. And I do mean starting it with enthusiasm, then scrapping it, starting it all over (with slightly less enthusiasm) and scrapping that. And then starting it yet again, the enthusiasm quotient even lowere than before, and replaced with grim determination instead. A veritable case of  the verbal Groundhog Days.

This situation can be interpreted in two ways: either that it genuinely doesn’t want to be written (for whatever reason) OR, and this is the way I see it, that it does want to be put down on paper, but it’s forcing me to take the most appropriate approach for it. In other words, it’s challenging me get around the difficulties it’s throwing in my way, to think about how best to tell the story for maximum effect. Ideas can be expressed in a myriad of ways; the trick is to find the way that suits it best.

And how do you go about finding that particular path to take? By actually confronting the beast, and facing those problems head on. It would be far too easy to just say, Sod it, this is too hard, I’ll just give up on this one. Something about the idea. when it first hit you, must have appealed enough to make you think that a worthwhile story could be made out of it. So, set about writing it in the way you first envisaged, and if that doesn’t work, then look for another approach to tell it. If it’s still recalcitrant, then repeat the process. Repeat as many times as is needed to get it told.

Another approach is to walk away from it for a short while if need be – write another story, perhaps, or just not do any writing at all. In fact, just don’t think about anything to do with that particular story for a few days. Or months later, or even years if necessary, however long it takes for things to slowly resolve themselves in your mind or to make whatever it is you need to do to help the story becomes clearer. Ideas for stories, even for ones that don’t come together initially, are never completely useless – at the worst they can be recycled into some other tale if the story they were originally conceived for somehow continues to play silly buggers

The thing is, though, is to at least try and make the story work, and not to give up on the first go-round. Even those writers who’ve been in the business for decades get times when it all just doesn’t want to come together in the manner they would like it to. Never let anyone tell you that writing is easy, and that all it involves is sitting in front of a computer and typing all day; some writers genuinely struggle with their stories, and how best to get them down on paper. All we see as readers are the end results, not the process. Some stories flow, but others have to be dragged out into the harsh, bitter light of day, kicking and screaming.

Like Kathe Koja wrote in her guest blog on here, the secret is to sit down and create the best work you are capable of. Even if it means you have to wrestle with it. Simply because, ultimately, the rewards for hard work and persistence can be rich indeed.


2 Responses to “Writer vs Words”

  1. Wonderful post! I agree with you. There are two novels that I’ve been working on for a year and a half now…longer than I normally take for a book, and they’re simply simmering. It wigged me out at first, but after taking a moment to think about it, there are all sorts of good reasons for why they’re being so stubborn. Sometimes the stories are more than ready to be written…but we’re not ready for *them* and other times, the story needs a sick day (or a few). Great insight, thanks for sharing!

  2. It’s always a mystery.

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