I experience the writing process as a series of flows. Now, what do I mean by that?
When the writing is good, and the word count is high, the imagination reel in my mind is spinning at a consistent rate. It’s bringing forth images and conversations and words and character’s worlds in such a way that the story I’m writing can progress. The flow is unstuck.
This flow for me is usually the strongest during the last twenty thousand words of a novel. It’s also quite strong for the first fifteen to twenty thousand words.
However, in the fifty thousand words or so between the beginning and the end, this flow can become stilted. In other words, the imagination reel can be working for me during certain scenes or it can go into shut down.
I’m not talking writer's block or any such thing, but just sections/chapters within the manuscript where I’ve moved faster than the plot and characters require, or I’ve moved the story along too slowly, or perhaps I’ve gone in a direction that isn’t quite working out.
With my most recent manuscript, The Sweetest Secret, this happened at a few stages of the writing process. I had tried to advance the relationship between my two main characters more quickly than they, themselves, required.
When this occurs, a dissonance is felt viscerally within my own body and the writing process comes to a halt. Sometimes for days. Sometimes for weeks. Sometimes for months.
I plot my stories out beforehand, but a writer really can’t get a feel for the pace of the story and really know the characters until the writing process is underway. So, it’s unavoidable to not run into misdirection.
But, as I have been writing for nine years, I’ve grown a little tired of the time wasted when misdirection occurs.
So, I created a method that really worked for me when the writing becomes stilted. It may sound a little woo-woo cuckoo crazy but hey, I don’t care. It works.
Also note, that if you are not a writer, you can actually do this process with any person in your life you need clarification or solutions from - i.e. your boss, your husband.
Here it is:
1. Find a quiet place where you will not get interrupted.
2. Close your eyes and breathe deeply for a short while to relax the body.
3. Conjure in your mind your character/s as though they are present in their solid form within the room—perhaps on the couch beside you or in a chair or standing before you.
4. Ask them questions (silently in your mind) about how they would react to certain plot points, how they feel about the other characters, what they believe is the direction that needs to be taken in the scene.
5. Listen to your character's response, trust your character's answers and write the scene that way.
6. Rinse and repeat at any point the flows become stuck.
So that’s it. Nice and simple. Takes a little imagination, but what author doesn’t have an abundance of imagination.
Let me know if you try this and if it works for you.