Wednesday, October 30, 2013


post by Lynn

A fat, black fly, slowed by cool weather, bangs against the window pane in my writing room. He can see where he wants to go – to the stretch of green grass outside – but he can’t reach it the way he thinks he ought to be able to reach it. He's centimeters away from freedom, but he can’t get there.

I can relate. In my writing, I often see the story, just right there, through the mist of my imagination. And yet I bang against the words on the page, hit delete, bang again and again.

In order to break through to the lushness I originally envisioned, I’m finding out that I have to redirect. Unlike the unfortunate fly, I can do that. I can make choices, experiment and not just bang away until I die. Phew!

My favorite tool in this case is time. I step away from that particular piece of writing and redirect my energy to something that proves to be more permeable in the moment. If I can’t dredge up enough dialogue to flesh out the scene in the story I’m working on, I pivot and go where the energy is flowing – maybe to a poem/lyric essay, because something has been handing me imagery in my sleep.

Or sometimes I have to keep studying, reading, and doing writing exercises until my abilities move up to the level of the story and I learn the exact thing I need in order to write the next words.

My redirection is rewarded when the window to the world I was originally working on opens just enough to let me slip through.

“Go with the flow” sounds New Agey, and some would say I’m stalling, but it’s my process and I’m sticking to it. I end up less frustrated and more productive in the long run.

What about your writing process? Do you redirect, go straight for it, or what?


John Paul McKinney said...

You probably have a lot more fun doing it your way, as well. I keep notes all over the place that I can go back to when I need some inspiration. I know writing, itself, is a solitary exercise but being with other people for a while helps me, too.

Anonymous said...

When I run up against an impasse, I put what I'm working on aside and work on something else for a while until inspiration comes to me. Sometimes, it's a matter of restructuring something. Several years ago, I started a novel but became blocked. I knew where I wanted to go but had no idea how to get there. I eventually made it into a short story with an ending I didn't expect.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Lynn, I tend to wander from project to project to satisfy my need to let stories rest, sometimes for months, before going back to add or tweak or rewrite. It works for me.

Lynn said...

Thanks for the comments -- sounds like the redirection thing is useful to all of us, in some form or other. I guess that flexibility is crucial in writing, and in life!

Anonymous said...

Best part of beating your head against a wall is stopping, isn't it?

I'm the same way. Leave, come back, leave, come back to a piece. If I try to force myself too much all I do is make myself crazy.

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