Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More from Overcoming Writing Blocks

The first stage of any writing task is the training and gestation period.

"You know what you have to do and, overwhelmed as you may feel, you must prepare yourself properly for it. Just as you would prepare yourself for a footrace, so you need to develop basic fitness habits that will get you in shape for prose composition, especially if you know you have a tendency to block.

"More than anything else, your job as a writer at this stage is to cultivate a special quality of receptivity to make yourself as sensitive as possible to faint suggestions about the work that crop up in the back of your mind. Once you know what your task is, you begin to explore it, gathering information, trying out different leads, and generally seeking to encourage the texture of the piece to take clearer and clearer shape in your mind and in your notes."

Reading this I realized that this was smack dab where I was in the process continuum. Because I'd already worked on the book a bit, and even come up with a synopsis and proposal, I thought I was further along than I am.

For one thing, I came up with the the original idea years ago. I'm a different person now. The slot this book must fill is a totally different slot from the one I had conceived it for. So in many ways it really is like starting all over.

Yes, I already have a plotline and even potential scenes -- but those no longer seem appropriate. I don't like them any more. And even some of what I've written just seems lame. So I have to take it as something that is still very early in its gestational period. A period that isn't going to be completed in a day or two, despite my ridiculous hopes that it will be.

What I've decided to do is to just read through all the material without demanding that I make decisions about it. Stop demanding that I wrestle a plot out of it. Just keep reading through it and reading through it, noting whatever occurs to me and maybe doing a few nonstops. I'll read more in Overcoming Writing Blocks as well, for additional ideas of things I can do. And I will keep doing the research that I've started. But more on that later.