My thought here is that we need to stop calling it “writer’s block” and start calling it “writer’s bottleneck.”
I’m working on a short story that I have to have done today, because I’m putting it up tomorrow. It’s already up to 4K, and I have no idea how it’s going to end yet.
I’m also working on a novel that I have to have done before June 1, because I do, and I’m at the point where I don’t know how to get from where I am to the end in an efficient, logical, and yet moving manner.
Two bottlenecks. Both related to the fact that I have a lot of moving parts set up, but I don’t know how to fit them together.
This is the point at which I used to abandon stories, because I had no idea what to do. I mean, it wasn’t that I had no idea how to solve the specific problems of the stories; I thought that because I got to a point where I had no idea what to do, that I had failed as a writer and needed to abandon that story. In the end, that bottleneck has more to do with my faith in myself as a writer than in my actual talent. It was more about fear than ability.
Only those stories in which I knew the various pieces and parts and how and why they all fit together were real stories, I thought.
My step after that was to learn how to outline, in which I could write down my thoughts about what would come next, and see everything all laid out on a piece of paper before I started writing. That led to a big leap for me.
But lately, I’ve been taking more risks in writing stories that don’t start out with outlines. It makes me nervous. What if I get to a point where I don’t know what to do next? What if I don’t write a story, but just peter out?
And yet, I’m at the point where I know that I can write a story, not knowing how it will come out; it will come out as a story, as long as I don’t abandon it. I don’t have perfect control over pacing and length, but that seems to be as much a part of the discovery process as anything else. If the idea is a short-story idea, then I’ll end up with a short story, relatively speaking. Ditto for novel ideas.
I’m starting to enjoy writing these stories that I don’t know how will come out before I start them. The discovery process is entertaining, really. And a weird, freeing feeling to be able to acknowledge the fear that things will come out wrong, and move past it.
So what’s your writing bottleneck?
Where do things fall apart? Where do you tend to stop writing? –I have a hard time coming up with “good” ideas, too, ideas that I give enough of a shit about to write about; however, setting clear goals and saying, “I don’t @#$%^& care if you give a shit about your idea, you have a goddamned story due” seems to be moving me past that.
Recovering after disappointment?
Butt in chair?
Wanting to have written, versus wanting to write?
–How would you solve that problem, if someone had a gun to your head, and it didn’t matter how good the story was, only that you got it done?