I hear about it time and time again, writers who have all sorts of manuscripts started but then they stall out, get busy, and those pages sit in a file for God knows how long. Maybe until you move and finally get a chance to go through everything.
I’m one of those people that can’t not finish something. No matter what it is, if I start it, I’m going to damned well finish it. It make take me a few years (like building my scrapbook, sans experience or delight), but I do it. And that part about sans delight? Why are you writing if you don’t delight in it? It’s not the business to get into because of the money. More people are doing it for the ‘fad’ than because they were born to write, at least from what I’ve seen.
And, yes, I have been stalled on a book before, twice actually, with both novels that I’ve published. I literally left Stolen Prey for almost a year to focus on The Lothgoliar before going back to finish writing it. But, I had no intention of just forgetting about it.
My problem is that when I get an idea in my head, that’ll usually carry me for about seventy pages. That seems to be the golden number. And then, if I have no outline, no idea where it’s going to go, I start to question, or I get “busy” and it slowly fizzles out. I think about it all the time, but in the past, I didn’t know what to do about the so-called ‘writer’s block’.
It’s been almost six years since I experienced this with Stolen Prey, and longer with The Lothgoliar. But I know exactly what I did to fix the situation.
This book started out as a cop in London, UK that ends up investigating a suicide at a hundreds-year-old mansion. I had no true idea where the book was going to take me, but at a few points, I had decided it was going to be a ‘ghost story’. But, alas, I grew older, stopped even remotely believing in ghosts or any paranormal things (hope that doesn’t come back to bite me in the ass), and my eyes opened to the world around me, and not always the good parts. So, because I no longer had conviction in what I wanted to write about, the project took a bit of a standstill, and while I thought about it, I went back to edit The Lothgoliar.
Violence against women campaigns were becoming popular around that time, and I already had the basis—I had the cop, I had the characters, the woman, I just needed conflict. So, taking that into account, I created the abusive fiancé of the love interest and it all went from there. (To know more, you’ll just have to read the book. See bottom of the page to find out how).
I started writing this ten years ago. I remember the day. It was quiet—one of those unusually quiet days where you honestly can’t believe how quiet it is—and I was dressed in my comfies and feeling creative. So I started writing about this winged human-like creature.
I had one chapter. At the end of it, the character was going somewhere, back to civilization, but where, I had no idea. I knew nothing of his personality, but only that he was weary and jaded.
I left it for a few weeks and it kept nagging and nagging. Finally, I decided to turn it into a novel because I knew it had possibilities. But, around page 70, I had my characters, I had some conflict, but nothing so grandiose that I could turn it into a full novel.
So, I left it to think for a bit, and then I told myself that if I wanted conflict, I was going to inject conflict into the book like heroin. The rest of the writing took a very short time. Mind you, nothing is perfect in the beginning, and even a year ago, before it’s release, I was fine tuning things.
There’s a reason you started that book, story, script, etc. You had an idea and ran with it. But then you got stuck. Well, don’t just file it in a cabinet. Chances are you think about it once in a while, wishing you hadn’t just left it, and that maybe you should go back to it.
Don’t write it off. Okay, so maybe your original idea fizzled out, but maybe for a good reason. Maybe you didn’t have all your ducks in a row, maybe the idea’s been done, or maybe it was just boring and you knew it!
Rather than file that thing away, change it up!! If I hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have the books I am so proud of. If you’re writing about a safari where the characters encounter a monster, but it’s already eaten two of the MCs by page 70, well, either you can change that specific detail, or you can make the story bigger than just a monster. Way bigger. Or, hell, make your MCs come back to life. Maybe they find a plant in the depths of Africa that brings people back from the dead. Okay, not necessarily good ideas, but the point is, change the direction in which the story goes. Maybe all you need to do is write one measly chapter to figure out the direction you want to take it in.
Remember: you can’t miss something you never wrote. So, stop holding onto ideas that won’t work. If they could work, but you just don’t know how to get started, well, outline and research. Right now, I’m writing about things far more complex than I ever have, requiring a lot of research. Writing is work. Fun work, but work. Simple.
So, get back into that filing cabinet (or dusty box) of yours and start reading. You’ll soon discover why you started writing those in the first place (awesome character? setting? good idea lacking good characters?). It doesn’t take much to tweak your idea into something greater. Use a random word generator (http://www.wordconstructor.com/)! Use inkblot tests (www.theinkblot.com)! You never know what that creative mind will come up with.
Stolen Prey and The Lothgoliar are available in online bookstores in 6×9 paperback and all eBook formats. Click the links below to find out where you can purchase them.