On Writing Utter Crap
Last week I wrote a post about struggling with writer’s block. I’ve come to the conclusion that one only has writer’s block when one is writing crap. If the story were good and moving along and the characters had depth and juice, it would be difficult to blame the pause in writing on the story and the characters. It’s when one is writing garbage that it becomes difficult.
Ironically, last week I also finished reading THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern. Although I didn’t give it the full 5 Stars (it was amazing), and only 4 (I really liked it) on GOODREADS, that book has stuck with me for the past week, and I’m considering altering my rating. The way Morgenstern wrote the manuscript in a non-linear way, incorporating the second person “you” into it, and bringing a wealth of imagination and creativity to it–well, it’s just hanging around, infiltrating my thoughts. Making me feel like what I’m producing smells a lot like the elephant tent.
When I went to write a chapter of my next novel, I stared at it. I didn’t like it. I said to myself: I CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS.
I took a couple of days off—I mean really stepped away from the project—and now I feel much better. A new idea came to me, one that I think has promise, and I’ve begun to think through what this new piece of writing may become.
Because, truthfully, that’s what writing is all about. Seeing what comes of what you start with in the first place. If it’s not going the way you want it, do what I did. Abandon it, rewrite it, or start over.
I spent years and years making BENEATH THE MIMOSA TREE what I wanted it to be. I would never have released it into the world if I weren’t comfortable with it. I don’t intend to waste weeks, months, or even years working on something that feels just mediocre—or worse—to me.
Because in the end, the writer must like his or her end product, and not feel like it’s utter crap.
That’s *one* reason for getting blocked, but it’s not the only one. Stories don’t always follow the direction you want them to go in, and it can take time to figure out how to work with the change. That doesn’t mean you were writing crap; it just means you weren’t writing what you thought you were writing. I almost always give my characters choices that have to come out of who they are and what part they play in the story. Figuring out the right choice can leave me stuck for a long time, but it has nothing to do with crap. Maybe what you were trying to do wasn’t crap; it was just something you needed to be more flexible about. Creativity comes in the spaces where you don’t have it all planned out and don’t know what’s going to happen.
Steph's Scribe/Stephanie Verni
You are very correct, Cantana. It isn’t always crap. Maybe what I felt was more crappy about what I was writing, or maybe the story isn’t far enough removed from the one I just wrote and published, so I wasn’t feeling good about it. I totally agree with you that giving characters time to breathe and make decisions is important. I’ll try not to be so hard on myself…lol. Thanks for visiting and offering insightful commentary. 🙂