by Leisha Maw
Today's to-do list:
1. Wake up: check.
2. Actually get up: check--and yes, I do have to have a separate line for this. Getting up is hard.
3. Get kids up: check, check, check, and check.
4. Get kids up again because they fell back to sleep: check.
5. Repeat steps 3 and four several times: check.
6. Beg/bribe/force some of them to get dressed: check.
7. Remember it's Kid D's birthday: check.
8. Pat self on back for remembering, because yes, I've forgotten a kid's birthday before: check.
9. Start laundry: check.
10. Make beds: check.
11. Make birthday breakfast of blueberry pancakes from scratch: check. I even ground the wheat. Extra check.
12. Get kids to school: check, check, check, and almost check.
13. Write blog: checking as we speak.
14. Write 2000 words in WIP: ummmmmm
Do you ever have those moments when it seems you've run out of words? When the flow just stops? What do you do?
I used to try to force the story and make my characters do what came next in the outline. It never worked well. Ever. (Kind of like number three on my to-do list.) So now I take a step back and consult my writing checklist before I start yelling at my characters to behave.
1. Setting: is it developed? Check.
2. Plot: do I have one? Check.
3. Characters: what would they do? Oh flub.
There's my problem. I'm reacting to the scene, instead of letting them react and act for themselves. What's the difference? It's kind of like my morning checklist. If I had my way, I'd never need numbers four, five, and six. Umm, okay, and eight. Oh heck, I'd never need number two. And someone else would make me pancakes. In bed.
But there's a reason I have those numbers in my checklist. Because my children drive the list. They drive my morning story. It's the same with a book. The characters, if they are fleshed out enough, have strong personalities and develop a life of their own. They won't do certain things. You can make them try, but no one will believe it. They won't. The reader won't. Even the writer won't.
Most of the time when I get stumped in my writing I just need to take a step back and ask myself, what would this character do in this situation? Then I smack myself in the forehead and let the character tell his own story while I write it all down.
What do you do when you hit a writing wall?