Thursday, April 30, 2015

Starting And Stopping

I wish I could sit down and, in one bold session, write an entire novel.  Unfortunately, not only is it not physically possible to do, it's also counterproductive - our brain needs a break or we start sounding loopy and forgetting important details.

However, the biggest issue with not being able to write a whole book at once is that you break the flow of ideas.  It's always tricky to find a good stopping point whereby you know exactly how to pick up the story again.  Let's face it, some of us get to 1,000 words(or whatever our limit is for that day), wipe our brow, and stop.  I've known writers that even stop in mid-sentence.  But unless you have a photographic memory, you always have some uncertainty in where to begin again.  Sure, outlines help, but if yours are anything like mine, they're guides, not exact instructions.

I've encountered this in my most recent work(I'm almost at a title, but I'll save that for later).  I don't like to stop when I'm on a roll, but sometimes I have no choice.  It always takes me five to ten minutes to remember where I wanted to go with a particular thought once I start writing for the day.  Unfortunately, sometimes what I'm writing is so far from what I thought I was getting in the outline that I can't remember what I wanted to say.

This can present an opportunity if tackled properly.  Not always remembering where I wanted that last paragraph to go can provide a fresh perspective and shoot things off in new directions.  That's not the case here, however.  I wrote a big, ominous line about how people can be heroes and villains in the same breath, and now I can't remember the sequence I intended for that to unleash.  Looking back at my outline, all it says it "trek west, problems in OK, food and party raids."  That doesn't give me much to go on(I've said in the past that there are times my outline gets specific - such as if I have definitive things I want included - but it often just gives a general flow so the story can develop on its own as I write).

Of course, some of this could've been avoided if I'd followed the old maxim about how writing is like going to the gym - skipping a day makes it easier to skip more days.  Coming back several days later makes picking up where I stopped a whole lot harder.  I'll get back into it this week, but I doubt that what gets written will look much like what I originally envisioned.  Hopefully it'll be better, but it'll definitely be different.

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