Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Insecure Writer and Being Stuck



Today is August's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because of a lack of writing progress.

Okay, who am I kidding? I have that insecurity every month. What really makes me insecure this month is that I’ve been stuck on the same scene for the past five weeks. And it’s really beginning to bug me.

I’m not talking about writer’s block or anything like that. The bones of the scene are all there—it’s probably 80% done—I just have to keep banging my head against the keyboard and rearranging the words until they flow well enough I can show it to another human being.

The usual advice is to move on to the next scene and come back to this one later when my brain is fresh, but my crit group is reading my story in chronological order and the scene is due this week. Actually it was due last month, but I made some lame excuse about computer problems and didn’t submit anything. I’m not repeating that scenario this month.

It’s not that I think I’ll never finish the scene. I know I will, but when I look up at the calendar and realize another month has disappeared, I get an antsy feeling in my stomach.

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This month’s IWSG question: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? 

I once wrote a short story back in high school that was a complete ripoff of Star Trek, but I wasn't aspiring to be a writer back then, so that probably doesn't count.  And I was probably a quarter of the way through my Hogwarts fanfic before I realized how much fun I was having writing fiction, so I guess that story would be my answer.  It's still sitting in the computer, and every chance I get, I go back and work on it.  After nine years and counting, I'm only a few chapters away from calling it finished.


ChemistKen




36 comments:

  1. You know, I think you're probably insanely busy around supporting a family AND writing. I've figured out how to manage a couple hours a day around the kids school, but I can't imagine having the energy after a full work day in an office. You're doing better than you know.

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  2. You'll have to finish the Hogwarts story someday. After you finish that chapter for your group of course.

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  3. Harry and the gang inspired me too. My idea on the chapter is to just tell your group you need their help and let them give you their two cents worth. It will probably help. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  4. You can do it, Ken!
    Seems several people wrote Star Trek stories way back when. Of course, who doesn't want to write about something as awesome as Trek?

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  5. I don't see stopping in your future. You've kept at it and I know you'll finish. Besides, look at all the other things you've accomplished along the way. Congratulations on being human and a writer as well.

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  6. I had a chapter like that for a critic group once. I couldn't finish it but I added a few sentences and took it anyway. They were sympathetic and gave me some ideas. I still bated that chapter but it finally got done. If you have a decent critique group maybe they will help you out

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  7. Sorry that scene isn't going smoother. I usually ponder things like that while I'm out jogging or walking. Something about being away from my desk opens up my imagination.

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  8. I'd give you a shove if it'd help. I've been stuck on the same three chapters for *cough* almost a year. As soon as the kids are back in school, I'm going to close my eyes and force my way through. Hope you find a way out!

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  9. I'd give you a shove if it'd help. I've been stuck on the same three chapters for *cough* almost a year. As soon as the kids are back in school, I'm going to close my eyes and force my way through. Hope you find a way out!

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  10. I know the feeling! Sometimes those scenes are ridiculously stubborn! I hope it clears itself up soon :)
    Love the pic in your header - stunning!

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  11. I'd give you a shove, too, but that would probably be too many. Relax, the scene isn't going anywhere. Clean the house. Build a tree fork. IOWs, do something totally off different and I bet you a Loonie, your muse comes back. I bet ya!

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  12. My recommendation on the scene your stuck on is submit it to your critique group for their thoughts. Whenever I'm stuck on a scene that I feel isn't just right, the advice from my CPs always help me get over the hump.

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  13. Maybe you could submit some of your drafts for the scene and see what they have to say? They might give you some good ideas.

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  14. At least you've got the bones! That's better than a blank screen, right?

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  15. I've been stuck on scenes but not quite for that long. Hope you get it done.

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  16. A lot of us are stuck with writing. I've been stuck for a couple of months now. :\ I hope we both get back to writing and conquer the scenes that are stumping us.

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  17. First of all--boy does that sound familiar. Yeah, been there. Two solutions I've tried: 1) ask your critique group for help. Sometimes they see stuff you had no idea fit. 2) read in your genre. Get inspired by how other writers solve those scenes.

    Good luck!

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  18. I'd just take what I had to my crit group. Maybe someone would have a suggestion that sparks the magic.

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  19. I'd just take what I had to my crit group. Maybe someone would have a suggestion that sparks the magic.

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  20. Elizabeth has a great idea. I'd do the same. I find scenes that are a pin for many others harder to do, because the details have to be right. If I have no great inspiration for a scene, I struggle, too.

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  21. Heh, I still write Star War fan fiction. What's wrong with that? Its fun. I like Elizabeth's idea. Don't ask for crits, ask for nuggets to help you get over the hump. You can do it.

    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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  22. I know just how you feel. I'm stuck on a scene too. But at least you're working on yours. I haven't touched mine in weeks. (In fact I'm so sick of my WIP that I'm ignoring it and starting to outline my next one.) The reason to have CPs is so they can help you with things. No need for it to be perfect. Let their fresh eyes see it and they'll pick up on things you're too close to see. They may have the perfect advice for you. Good luck!

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  23. Isn't it so frustrating to get stuck on a scene. Sometimes it needs that little bit of extra work before we can move on. At least you have that deadline to spur you on.

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  24. I've been there too, your head goes round and round in circles with it till you're dizzy! Trouble is, then you often get so frustrated with it you can't move it forward (well that seems to be how it is for me anyway). If coming back to that section a while later isn't an option I would do what others have suggested - show what you got to the crit group and ask for their thoughts. You'd be happy to help someone else in that situation I'm sure, so I bet they will come up with some suggestions for you. Sometimes all it needs is a fresh pair of eyes. Best of luck, Ken you'll get there.

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  25. Oh I can so relate to the constant banging of head and rearranging before I have something I would show to another human being! And the antsy feeling in my stomach when I see another month has passed. I feel like I'm in good company now that I've read your blog post :-)

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  26. A few people already said this, but take the scene to your critique group as is. They might help you solve the issues you're having, or at least give you some fresh perspective on the problem.

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  27. Yes, I wrote a lot of stuff before the fanfic I mentioned in yesterday's post, but that stuff was before I really planned to try and get something published. I feel like intent makes a difference. I wrote stories for fun and for friends, but not for public consumption until the fanfic I wrote in college.

    And I'm also spinning my wheels over a scene in my current WIP. Summer has been awful for me in terms of writing, and I feel like such a loser not getting more done. And I no longer even have a writing group to keep me accountable. Ugh. Kids back in school in a couple more weeks and then no more excuses! But yeah, I feel your pain.

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  28. I recently went through the same thing with s chapter scene. I ended up hand writing all case scenarios and solutions and then chatted with my writing buddy. I got through it and I bet you will too. :)

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  29. I'd write the scene backwards, Ken. That unusual way of tackling it might help you get through the block.

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  30. Maybe if you'd just let your crit group have it, they'd figure it out for you. Opening your work up to objective assessment can be good, even if it makes you uncomfortable.

    I had an interesting experience last week. I put my first WIP through its paces with a plot worksheet and a scene elements checklist. I discovered that the scenes I liked least had the fewest essential elements.

    If you want to try it, you can find it here: http://jamigold.com/for-writers/worksheets-for-writers/

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  31. Go ahead and turn in the scene. That way maybe they can tell you what's missing. Sometimes showing it to other people can get you unstuck. Good luck!

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  32. I was reading a writing craft book recently, but my brain won't let me remember who the author was, and he says if you know your story's theme, every scene will have to reinforce it. So, basically, knowing your story's theme will keep you from getting stuck because you will always know what needs to happen so the story stays on-theme. I've found knowing theme helps SO much when writing.

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  33. I've been stuck on one story I really need to finish. I switched to another one that was closer to the end, just so I could finish something. I know that doesn't help you with your critique group. As someone said, take what you have and see what advice they can give you.

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  34. I'm having the same problem but it's with my entire WIP! It was supposed to be a short story, then a novella, and now I'm trying to morph it into a novel. Not as easy as it sounds, although, truth be told that's the problem. short stories don't morph!!! It's truly funny, well, to me because when I first started writing, all I wrote was novel length stories, and couldn't figure out how to shorten them. When I wrote this as a short story I was pleased with it, but the publisher wasn't. They wanted a book - damn, now I'm having the opposite problem. :)
    I bet when you solve your problem that scene will be a favorite! Good luck!

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  35. Hey, Ken. I'm sorry it's taken me this long to drop by and read your IWSG post. Where has the month gone?

    I think (and maybe you've already done so) you should turn in the scene that's bugging you. I'm sure someone in your writing group will come up with answer as to why you can't move on. Problem solved!

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  36. Hey, Ken. I'm sorry it's taken me this long to drop by and read your IWSG post. Where has the month gone?

    I think (and maybe you've already done so) you should turn in the scene that's bugging you. I'm sure someone in your writing group will come up with answer as to why you can't move on. Problem solved!

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