Restarting the Creative Engineby Jessica Ralston
So here I am, back to work.
I read Chuck Wendig's blog with some frequency. He's usually good for a kick in the pants, a chuckle, or both in the same blog post. I especially like his posts that list 25 things writers should do. Or should not do.
His most recent one, "25 Ways to Unfuck Your Story" was especially timely, I felt. This, accompanied by a blog post by Nathan Bransford entitled "How to Return to Writing After a Long Break," seemed to be just the right mix to get my butt in gear.
The one thing that I took to heart from Wendig's post, as I sit here with my manuscript and a stack of notecards, is that sometimes, you need to just throw it out and start over. It's no use making a bigger mess; that just leads to more hair-pulling and growling at my computer.
Wendig says in point 25 that eventually there came a point in his process where he just needed to start over. He stripped it all down, re-outlined and re-wrote. Then he says this, "Point is, sometimes you have to blow it all up and start over. No harm in that. In fact, it might be the best — if not the most pleasant — thing for your story." Wendig has other great points in his list, but this one really resonated with me, because it's something I've been thinking about doing.
I mentioned Bransford's post because I haven't written in quite a while...well over a month, actually. This is because life, as it's wont to do, got hectic. I was preparing to leave China, leaving China, settling back into life in the U.S. and doing some running around. Writing was put on the back burner for a while, and I feel so guilty and very much out of step with the routine I built. Now I have to get back up on the horse and start going again.
One of Bransford's tips for getting back into writing is to not dive headfirst into your novel. Start small, take baby steps. I know that if I tried to do anything more than fix a few sentences in my novel, I'd run away screaming and never look back.
All of these elements have combined to make a sort of perfect storm for my writing life. One has helped me figure out what I might need to do to keep going with my edits; the other had the encouragement I needed to get back on track and not be scared about getting back into writing.