Monday, 17 September 2012

I get "writer's block" when I plot.

I've just discovered this about myself recently. Yes, I know. Isn't it strange?

Three weeks ago I started my third novel. It's technically my fifth, but I'm not counting the first one I digitally burned, or the other one I've started, but put on the sidelines for a while because it was too smart for me.

For the first time in my life, I don't have time to binge-write (allocating large slots of time to write my heart out until I can write no more), so I've been forcing myself to get out at least 500 words, every morning, five days a week. Due to this small goal, I've actually averaged 900 a day, which is pretty damn good considering I have a full time job, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and a whole bunch of other literary favours I do for people. Oh yeah, and there's my life away from books and music, I always forget that one ...

Anyway, I started this novel on a whim because I really really craved some finger aerobics (they've been losing a lot of muscle tone lately), and I started it without plotting a single thing. All it started with was an idea of two characters.

Once I started writing, it turned into four solid characters, and I also discovered their motives and a basic story line without figuring out exactly what's going to happen any further than two chapters from where I currently write. And you know what I've discovered? This lack of plot keeps me really excited about my story. I want to know what happens next, which makes me want to sit down and write, and that, in turn, motivates me to get up early and write those minimum 500 words before work.

This is great! You know why? Because I haven't written anything on any novel for around 9 months. The novel that is sitting on the sidelines, is FULLY plotted. And once I'd figured out how it was going to progress, my enthusiasm for it died. Completely and utterly deflated like a defective pavlova.

My second novel, Bitter Like Orange Peel, was completely plotted too. And the first draft was torture. TORTURE. It took me more than a year to write those 73,000 words.

I really can't believe I've been doing it wrong all these years and wondering what the heck was wrong with me. Why did it take me so long to finish a novel? Because I was plotting and it destroyed my spark. I guess plotting isn't for me after all.

How about you? Has your writing rhythm changed as you've become more and more experienced, or have you found your comfort zone and are sticking with it?


  1. Sounds like a much more relaxed effort this time around.

  2. I'm the opposite. I could never pants my way through a novel. Even when I outline, I often write twice as many words as are needed.

  3. This post could be mine, Jessica. I've been trying to be more organized as I write my second novel. I have it plotted, with detailed notes. But guess what I've noticed? When I just write with no particular direction in mind, the writing is so much better. The problem though is I'm not sure you can do that with novel length fiction. Somehow you need to keep track of everything. Or do you? Will be interesting to read other peoples comments.

    Glad you are writing and enjoying it!

    1. Ellie, it's actually not hard to keep track of stuff. I just make little notes for myself along the lines of "follow up on why so and so does blah". That way I know what points I have to continue with, without specific details. :) It's fun!

  4. I am not an author, but I certainly admire those that are, you put such effort into your writing.

  5. OMGosh, that happens to me too, especially with the outlining process. BTW - great pic. Had to chuckle.

  6. You sound like a true pantser. I'm the opposite. If I write without knowing where I'm going my story wanders and I lose interest. Not to say that when I'm writing, often, the plot changes a bit and I learn more about theme and characters. That happens too! Glad you're excited and finding time to write!

  7. Yup, your a pantser. It's the only way I write. And when your characters start taking over, you'll get an extra thrill.

  8. I was lucky to find a writing coach who had written a book, Voice of the Muse, which talks about exactly this. Allowing the book to emerge organically. I feel the same way, altho I'm not enjoying the process quite as much as you seem to be - Yeah Jess, so glad you're writing again.

  9. I'm physically unable to plot a novel. It makes me ill. I wish this weren't so because I'm sure the writing would go faster if I could plot a book first. It's just no fun for me that way.

    Paul Liadis

  10. I do have a lot of trouble with self-doubt. Not so much with knowing where the book is going. I think the reason I've begun so many stories and finished so few of them is because I keep convincing myself they're not good enough.

  11. I'm doing that right now! I hate the plot writing block! I've thought about going back to pantsing it, but I love the outline.

  12. LOL! First, that kitty picture is hilarious! Second, ahhh... plotting or pantsing. I tend to do better when I pants. But I do like having a written sort of summary somewhere for if I get stuck. It's sort of like a loose road map that I've given permission to change. :D

    GREAT JOB! Getting all the writing done! That's awesome!!! Keep swimming~ <3

  13. I also get annoyed at those who act as if "my way is the only right way." The plotter/pantser divide is all about temperament. You've gotta do what keeps you motivated.

  14. OMG, that kitten could be a littermate of my kitty Vincent. Even the gray spot on his nose is so similar.

  15. You know, writing styles vary from author to author. That's cool, though. I find if I don't do some plotting or outlining these days that I end up in front of that brick wall known as writer's block. I do like to sit and just write until I can't write anymore, watching things unfold, but I crank out so much information that I have to write it all down or my writing is filled with inconsistencies. Good post!

  16. I'd grind to a halt without an outline. Once I have that in place, I'm excited. But we're all different. If no plot means you write, then skip it!

  17. I just make sure my plotting is thin, more of a beat sheet. So then, even though i know is a certain scene the love interests kiss, i really have no idea how they get there until i'm writing that scene

  18. Hi Jess .. sounds like it's working for you and that's the main thing ..

    Cheers Hilary


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