Today’s writing metaphor comes courtesy of the shark. In case you’re not entirely au fait with animal biology, many sharks need to swim constantly to stay alive. It’s all to do with passing oxygen-rich water through their gills, but the only reason I mention it, is because as writers we too need to constantly move to ensure our writing survives that elusive first draft.
We have all experienced that familiar lethargy that can creep up on us, half way through a story or novel. You may find you have written yourself in to a corner with a difficult plot twist. Perhaps your main character suddenly appears to have all of the personal charm of Piers Morgan. Maybe you just lost that initial spark of inspiration. It could be that you didn’t allow your idea enough time to cook (see post for the letter ‘C’) Out of nowhere a big pair of wet pants smothers your creative fire and you would sooner do anything but write. It’s just so hard, isn’t it?
So what?! Man up!
These are the times that you really discover whether you have what it takes to call yourself a writer. The first thing to realise is that you are not alone. Anyone who writes regularly will experience this at least a couple of times a week.
It wasn’t until I took on the NaNoWriMo challenge last year (see Nano Post), that I was forced in to finding a strategy to cope with this energy-sapping syndrome. During the challenge I spent a depressing few hours completely stuck on one particular chapter. I knew that I needed to come up with an event to move my character towards the next plot point, but drew a blank when it came to writing the actual scene. It didn’t take me long to realise that if I waited around much longer I was in danger of losing all of the momentum that I had built up in the previous days of the challenge. With this in mind, I typed a one sentence summary and moved on to the next chapter. Simple. Liberating. And it worked.
Momentum – keep the snowball rolling
But what about if you’re writing a short story, or other prose project and you feel that self-doubt is rearing its ugly good-for-nothing head? Maybe you need time away from that project, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up all of that hard-earned writing momentum. Keep writing, but write something else. Sketch out another short story. Write some flash fiction. Use some of the techniques I outlined in my ‘B is for Bananas’ post.
The point is: DON’T. STOP. MOVING.
Because, like the shark, if you stop swimming your writing will be dead in the water.
This was my 11th post for the A-Z Blog Challenge. Follow the blog during April for more writing tips, inspirational life posts, short fiction, film-inspired articles and some songs with audio recordings – like the next post – L is for Lies (Go Home and Tell Some Lies – original song)