Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pitfalls -- Stagnation

Hi, folks, I'm continuing my series on writing pitfalls. I've done several of these: Formula, Amalgam, Too Eager, No Velcro, Choking, Distraction  This week is a problem I called stagnation. 

You have a great idea and write the book, but something happens between the idea and production. The story falls apart.  What you envision in your head is not working. You have produced an absolute mess. Your critique partners cringe when you bring it into group. Months roll into years, and you are still pecking this project that seems to never move forward.  You are stagnating and this is not a good thing. 

There are two outcomes for this project. One, you will reinvent it, or, two, you will let it go. There is no middle ground for this. The only way to solve stagnation is to shove the project in a drawer for a long while (at least a year). You will be able to save some of these projects, but not all.  I have a few files that I've written on in bold caps: CLOSE THIS FILE RIGHT NOW! IT'S OVER.  I don't delete projects; they may be organ donors, but I do know when it is time to turn my back on a story.

How? Identification. I stop pecking at the mess and name what is wrong with the thing. Your critique partners can help with this too. It might be a marketing problem: No one wants a picture book about kids killing bugs...your whole premise is just not going to work. It might be a plot problem: The twenty seven murders are dragging this book down. Not all the problems are glaring: Your fantasy world and real world might disconnect.

The bottom line, you must identify the  manucscipt problem.Then fold your cards and get out of the game. Drain the writer's swamp by removing this blockage.  Let the dang manuscript go and run with another idea.  

I hope that you move out of any stagnant waters and streak forward with projects.  This is like decluttering your house. You will breathe easier. I will be back next week with more good stuff.

Here is this week's doodle: "Flamingo!"


But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. Arthur Conan Doyle


Leandra Wallace said...

I've had a few of those manuscripts! Time away is definitely a game changer. =)

MollyMom103 said...

Hi Leandra, aometimes I wonder what it would be like to do something fast like farming. :)

Mirka Breen said...

I have a relative who has been at this for fifteen years, same novel. As this relative believes in "stream of consciousness" writing, I think the project must be serving a purpose for him, its own purpose. I just don't expect it will be a book someday.
I'm an outliner, so it's a less likely pitfall for the way I work.

Vijaya said...

Oh, yeah, I have quite a few of those in my file cabinet. This is one of the reasons I love shorts -- I get to explore new ideas and sometimes after years, it's the new idea that's the missing piece in an old ms.

MollyMom103 said...

Hi Mirka, I hear you about the stream of conciousness writing. I had a relative like that. I am totally on team outline...

MollyMom103 said...

Hi Vijaya, I have not been one to write shorts but currently I have been dipping my toe into the shallow end of the pool. I've started four shorts in the past 6 months. Nothing complete but I think this little group of shorts has potential. :)