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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Hitting the Wall by Suzanne Rossi

Hello, everyone.

We all get to that point when we just can't seem to get our acts together and finish something we've started. The craft project, the sweater sitting there half-knitted, planting those containers of flowers in the garden, and yes, finishing that book. The first few chapters roll out like magic. The plot hums, the characters ooze charm and have room to grow, the setting sparkles. And then--BAM! Nothing. Everything new written is deleted because it just plain stinks.

It's happening to me now. I'm seven chapters into my fourth book in the Snoop Group series and the work has ground to a halt. It's not exactly writer's block--I know how I want the story to go, but I can't whip up the enthusiasm to write it. I should write every day, but find a dozen excuses to mess around on Facebook and Twitter or watch old movies. I write in spurts. Very little motivation. This is not the first time I've experienced The Wall.

My first four books were all published in 2010. Granted most of them were already written. All I did was spruce them up and submit. Book three, A Tangled Web, was written at the request of my editor who wanted to see a sequel to the first, Along Came Quinn. She liked the idea of the villainess becoming the heroine. So did I. There I was, a new author, editing two books and writing one at the same time. I put in a lot of long hours and hard work, but finally got it done. My enthusiasm level was high.

Then while working on Hear No Evil, that nasty wall appeared. For four long months I leafed through the excuse book (we all have one) and found ways to avoid writing. It wasn't until 2012 that the novel was finally published.

I have this habit of starting two or three books at once and alternating writing on them. If I get stuck on a plot or with a character, I can switch to something else for a while until things work themselves out. My next three books were done this way. Now, alternating can keep my mind active, but it also has its drawbacks. I didn't use any type of plotting charts or such for Deadly Inheritance. I just wrote. As a result, I ended up with a bloated, repetitive story. I spent months editing prior to submission. It was a nightmare. And even though I swore I'd never do that again, I still do it to a certain extent. I make a list of what has to happen and consult it often. Some items make it into the book, others don't.

After my experience of 2010, I found myself repeating history in 2015. I once again had four books released last year. I struggle to write new material. The Wall is once again in front of me. A good portion of the wall is constructed of distractions. My husband recently retired, and while he tries to blend into the house and not bother me during the morning hours, I still know he's there. We also have the house up for sale, so my time is often interrupted with showings, not to mention the stress of negotiating contracts--two of which have failed due to buyers getting cold feet. Grrr.

So, today I am making a firm promise to myself. I will move my computer from the dining table--where the view out the windows is gorgeous, but the boats going past are a major league distraction. I can also see the TV clearly. (Not good, but I can't tell my husband not to turn it on. It's his house, too.) I'll go back into the office area, close the door, and try to focus. I don't care if it is anti-social, I've got to do it. I have too many ideas for new books floating in my head. I need to regain my determination and discipline.

Oh, and by the way, I did manage to come up with a title for that fourth Snoop Group book--Killer Instinct.

Here's hoping your walls aren't too high or well-constructed. If you're facing The Wall, step back, take a deep breath, and call on your determination and discipline.

Have a great day!

Suzanne

9 comments:

  1. Suzanne, You might think about joining a goal setting group. You set x amount of words or projects you'll accomplish for the month or year depending on the group and you have to check in each week with the word count you wrote the week before. It makes me keep the fingers to the keyboard knowing someone else is keeping track of my output. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks, Paty. I used to keep a to do list and an outline, but haven't done it in ages. Maybe I need to cut back on my number of WIPs and go at a slower pace.

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  2. I can definitely relate to The Wall, as well as the Retired Husband Syndrome that you're experiencing! I think your idea of changing your writing location is a good one, and I hope it works for you. If you have a laptop, you might try writing at the library or some other location away from home. Good luck!

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    1. I tried writing away from home once, but by the time I got my stuff packed up my train of thought was destroyed. Besides, Starbucks objected to my pajamas. LOL

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  3. I know someone who writes in her recliner in front of the TV, but I need to be in my office away from all things "shiny" or I don't write much and what I do write doesn't make sense. Off to my pink cave for me!

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  4. I think everyone comes to the wall if they write long enough. I had one book in 2014 that I just couldn't get past the first chapter even though I had an idea of where I wanted it to go. Another idea came along that I just had to write and then three more (novella lengths). Finally with the unfinished book, I had to get serious as I was beginning to bring out that series. That time the writing went much smoother; so maybe the timing was wrong a year before-- and yes, it had been a year between. When a person has the option of switching to something else, if the wall isn't there for it, that can be a solution.

    On my WIP, the writing goes faster some days than others, but I have been working my way through what is happening as I had only a rough outline and filling it in takes thinking time. But that's not really a wall-- just a different part of the process.

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  5. Suzanne, to me it sounds as if you are suffering from burnout. I'd say take a couple of weeks to just do something fun. Don't even pressure yourself to write. At the end of that respite, take a fresh look at your writing and find what excited you about it. You will probably feel that excitement again and be able to move forward.

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    1. Sound advice, Joan. I haven't written a word in three days and with any luck we'll be on vacation next week. Maybe when I get back, I can focus again.

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    2. I hope so, Susan. Let us know how you feel. We care. Have a wonderful vacation.

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