Serialised Fiction – Part Four
So yet again a week has passed and I have failed to live up to my own deadlines. I didn’t get any specific episodes completed. What I did manage to do however, is get a lot of scenes written from the final five episodes I have to write in this series.
Which – in a roundabout way – got me thinking about endurance.
There have been previous posts on this site, from both Matt and myself, about this very topic. Comparisons can of course be made between writing and physical exercise, short stories being a lot like sprints, while novels can be full on marathons. What I’d like to explore this week is what happens when you get worn out.
No Breaks Allowed
There will come a time during the writing process when you just get tired of it. I’m not talking about getting the dreaded block, or being reluctant to find the time for it, but when you’re in the midst of writing and just think, “I’ve had enough of this. I’m bored. I can’t be bothered anymore”. I suppose the suitable analogy would be hitting the wall (or the dip? – Matt).
I got to this point this week. I just didn’t have the energy to push through. I’ll be honest, I’ve had moments like this before. Earlier this year, when I started work on a new novel, I wondered just how the hell I managed to get one full book written, since it seemed so improbable that I could ever do it again.
And this is how I began to feel this week.
Though I have managed to make it so far through this project (past the halfway mark) I began to feel it fall apart in my brain. However, I do have those deadlines (albeit mostly self imposed). So how do you deal with this?
Well, as I mentioned, I haven’t been entirely inactive. I have written different scenes from different episodes. I have found myself writing a few scenes at a time from different episodes each day. Matt did write a post about this a while back. I have found this a little different and somewhat energising too. Because of the nature of my project, a lot of the episodes are inter-connected, so one little change here, can result in many changes elsewhere (see chaos theory for more details).
Joining the Dots
Many of you I’m sure – if you’re anything like me – will plan out bits and pieces here and there. You’ll think about scenes, dialogue choices and so fourth while you’re not actively writing. Going through scenes in my head allows me to come up with some different, unique choices, directions I’d never thought about, which could open up different avenues to explore. Getting the major scenes plotted out, settled in your mind and written down can be a great exercise. Leaving out the gaps in between (for the moment) can make you feel like you’re making terrific progress, which is always a confidence boost. Eventually though, you do have to join all these dots up. I have, in the past, dreaded these bits. The “mundane” sections, or “the boring bits”. If they really are that boring however, then they shouldn’t be in the book, should they? Look upon this as an opportunity to have fun. Joining the dots shouldn’t be tedious. Mess around with it. It doesn’t have to be serious.
For one of my episodes I’ve had a few problems with how to get characters from A to B to C. I’ve had the scenes planned out, but getting there was tough. So I just messed around with it. Had some fun, played out different variations in my head, and what do you know, I managed to hit the right track, not only in an interesting and fun way, but in a logical one too. Well, as logical as you can get when dealing with Time Travelling Assassins.
This is an absolute must. Writing should be fun, right? That’s why we writers spend so much time doing it (other than to hopefully make a living from it). I’m not saying it always is. Sometimes it is a slog, especially when you have deadlines and you can’t be bothered and you have to join those dots, but just cut loose with it. Even if what you write isn’t going to entirely fit in the final draft, as long as you’re writing then you have nothing to worry about. I personally have found in the past that working on multiple projects has helped me. Sometimes I may get tired of what I’m working on, I might not be in the mindset, but I may be in the mindset for something else, so I’ll move on to writing that for a month or so.
If you only have the one project though, it can be a little more difficult. So just throw in some craziness. Do a bit of writing that doesn’t progress it. It may not fit into the framework of the book, but it does keep you writing. It can be a good recharge for your writing batteries, like a small vacation, but one that keeps your writing muscles toned.
And who knows, it can even occasionally spark that ingenious inspiration you’re looking for.