Blog No. 73

quotation-mitch-hedberg-i-m-sick-of-following-my-dreams-i-m-just-12-82-70I just finished another story the other day. While that’s exciting (I’m starting to rack them up) I find it the most difficult time in the writing process – maybe. It seems some times that every part of the writing process is the most difficult part. The lull stumps me every time though. I just pushed through a story (probably fighting with myself to get to the end) and now I have to start the next one. It’s odd that this stage would vex me so much since I love writing the first paragraph of stories so much. Justin (a fellow writer over at Adventure Worlds) calls it world building, but I don’t think that’s it for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love to world build, but it’s way more fun to discuss it than actually writing it and feeling inadequate and worrying that I’m missing all of the awesome things I came up with while world building.

For me the first paragraph is exciting. It’s not at the point where writing the story feels threatening and I am the most free to play around. It could be that I have years worth of opening paragraphs written and only a dozen or so finished stories. I’ve found that after the first couple of paragraphs I have my first drop off and I have to start getting into the plot and figure out either where I’m going or (if I’ve done some planning) how to get to the next idea. From there I hit the page two wall. Sometimes it’s a page and a half, sometimes (but rarely) it’s three pages, but it is essentially my first breath. My hand starts to hurt and I’ve been looking down at the page for a good while without being distracted. Then I can’t stand it any more and I have to put the pen down and look at my surroundings. If everything is going according to plan I’ll see the rest of the group hard at work on their own stories and I’ll feel guilty for stopping and get back to it. From there, depending on how into the story I am that day I can go for anywhere from another two pages to three or four. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but by that time I’ve written at least six hundred words and I’ve gone past my daily quota and I don’t feel so terribly about myself.

sadBeing able to get a good start could have something to do with the idea of promise. I am sitting on an idea that I’m excited about and I think I’ve got a good hook to get the reader interested and I can’t wait to get writing. It’s in that first paragraph that I can really see myself as a writer – or even (gasp) an author. When I get to the end of the story and feel like I’ve been fooling myself for the whole thing, and I realize that I didn’t end up writing what I set out to write, and I am still sitting on some loose ends and themes, I come to a shuttering halt and fight through the last page and a half. Sometimes I can manage to get it done in one painful run, but often I have to jump from awkward, stilted paragraph to desperate, pandering paragraph (like a kid trying to avoid bullies on the way home from school).

Then I’m finish and I’m happy it’s over, but ashamed of what I did and I have to start another story. I’m in the lull. I want to run away and wait until I don’t hate what I wrote so much, but I have to choose and continue. I’ve gone over the idea mill that is my head before. I’m never short of story ideas, but some are definitely better than others. Some seem like they would fit a different medium, some are new but not properly seasoned, some are older and need to be retuned, and some I am afraid I’ll mess up, but there are lots to choose from. The mix is a tough one to get over. I’ve yet to find the best way to get over it. So far I’ve tried avoiding it (but then I get way behind on my writing) and the guilt that comes from watching the rest of the group write away furiously while I play with my pen and try desperately to not bother them (but then I feel badly and tend to have to redo what I write). Sometimes the excitement of a new idea is enough to get me out of the lull, but those often end up needing seasoning and get put on the back burner.

So far the guilt has been enough to get me going on the next story. Christian and I are racing to see how many stories we can get done by June. Adventure World is amazing and I credit it (and the members) for all of my writing progress, but there are so many more things we all want to do and it takes getting better and being able to write more to do it. While those new and different things are tempting I already have too many things on the go. Writing has to be the focus and figuring out how to shorten the lull between stories is my next step. The end of my current story on Adventure Worlds is coming up on Monday and I already have the next story ready to go, but I go over those lulls long ago.

4 thoughts on “Lull

  1. Christian Laforet

    Those daunting periods between stories can sometimes feel overwhelming, but I’ve found working with the Adventure Worlds group, seeing everybody in some stage of story telling has always been enough to motivate me into moving forward. I think in your case, every time you finish a new story you are getting farther ahead and maybe, knowing that at any moment you have a handful of completed stories you could do something with, will make it easier to begin a new one; there is no immediate pressure to produce something, so the idea can come naturally.

    1. I suppose you’ve got a good point there. I’ve always been motivated by panic. So far we’ve had little to panic about this year. But we do have so many plans that I want to make a reality – so I have to push my contentment aside and push through.

  2. It is sometimes easier and a lot more fun to just sit back and discuss the different aspects of storytelling, or to discuss anything that relates to telling stories as is often the case. I find that once I get past that initial ‘lull’ that initial push that the writing becomes more and more fluid. Also when you are ending a story that has taken you a certain amount of time to finish I think there is a period where you feel you might not reach that place again, finishing a story so you want to hold onto that achievement for a little longer, I know I feel that 🙂

    1. It’s always easier to discuss a story than actually write it. At least for me. My whole desire to write comes from wanting to tell stories, so talking about it gives me the same cathartic experience as writing it down.
      As far as the lull, you’ve got it dead on. Once you push past it, the writing comes much easier. But then you hit the next lull and have to do it all over again.

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