Indypub: What is your writing bottleneck?

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.

Ideas?

Drafting?

Revising?

Submitting?

Recovering after disappointment?

Critiques?

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?

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7 Comments

  1. Because I’m anal, I find have word count goals really helpful, especially broken into small goals. I’m not necessarily so concerned about finishing as I’m good at that for the most part. Sometimes I need a break from a “real” story and will just write scenes that I know won’t go anywhere as a way to cleanse my palate for the next story. As a confirmed pantster, I’m almost always winging it!

    But it does really come down to trusting the writer within. I have a lot more faith in her now and that frees her up to write like crazy!

  2. And that first sentence did make sense in my brain. Honest.

    • De

      It’s because your so anal that you can keep your butt in your chair. I see, I see…

  3. I’ve had a similar problem all week. I had a great writing week last week, and I was SO sure I’d be done with my WIP this week that I told people I’d be done. Of course, I’ve had a really rough time getting any production out of myself. I think it’s because I don’t know exactly how it’s going to end, and I’m afraid I’ll screw it up.

    I should know better by now not to tell anyone when I’m going to be done with something.

  4. De

    Me, either. I made up a writing/publishing schedule, but YOUR SOUFFLE MUST DIE is so fluffy that I want to write something darker. Change the schedule? Or stick to it?

  5. I would not start something new until the current project is finished. I’ve had a history of taking a break on projects and never getting back to them. One of them was 82k words long and probably 80% done when I took a break.

    Push through. Finish it. You write a million words a day. It should be easy 🙂 Let writing the darker something be your reward for finishing.

  6. De

    OH! No, this is for when I finish Souffle.

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