I never thought it would happen to me.
I was arrogant and short-sighted.
I thought writer’s block was censoring out bad writing (you know, like rough drafts), an inability to apply butt-to-seat, or thinking you’re going in the wrong direction but not knowing the right one.
I didn’t think the blank page could scare me until I decided it was time for me to try something new.
Now? I understand.
Searching for a story
For the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize it’s time for me to start something new.
But what? A new story in my old world? A new world? A story in the real world?
And whose story should I tell?
I’ve been rolling settings and motivations around in the back of my brain. Letting ideas flow through my head without conscious attention, enjoying the feel of the endless possibilities.
And tiptoeing around my fears.
The thoughts that intimidate me?
Basically all the good reporter questions:
- Who are my characters?
- What do they want? What’s their goal? What stands in their way?
- When and where is this set? [Either in the real world or on a technological advancement scale.]
- Why? Why is this my story? Why do the characters want their goal?
Behind these questions, though, is where my real fears lurk.
Maybe what I’ve already written is better than any new world. Maybe the manuscript I’m querying was just a fluke. I know that story better than this vague inkling of an idea, how could I possibly do this new story justice?
Except, of course:
The Only Way Out Is Through
I’d contemplated and thought about my first world for years before I wrote it.
This new story? These new characters? This new world? They’re all so durn new to me, they’re basically transparent. I don’t know them yet, how can I even imagine I could tell their tale?
But then I remember, it took me three attempts to figure out my first world, to actually get past that 20,000-word mark and get the full story out of me. Three tries before I committed and followed the story till it was long enough.
You know what happened AFTER I finished writing 131,000 words in my then-brand-new manuscript?
After I finished and looked around is when I began to realize the theme of my story–what it had been working toward the whole time. And every draft, it becomes clearer and stronger and better plotted.
The only way for me to know for sure what story is trying to come out of me is for me to write it.
So now what?
My (Writing) Path Forward
They say every writer works differently, and that sometimes a writer’s method will even change from story-to-story.
My plan right now is to try what worked for me the last couple times.
- Pick a setting
- Pick a character
- Do a stupidly high-level outline. Something like:
- ch 1 – inciting incident
- ch 2 – complain to a friend
- … ch 19- final battle!
- ch 20 – denoument
- Start at a beginning (likely 2 chapters early while I explore the world and main character) and write until I get stuck
- Look at the outline. Either:
- it helps
- I need to rewrite the outline cause I’m going a different direction
When you’re starting a new project, what’s your process?
Do you just wait for a new idea to intrigue you and start writing while it’s fresh?
Or do you decide when you want to write something new and seek out that new idea?
As always, thanks for watching and feel free to subscribe (<<<<) I’ll be back again next Thursday with more writing tips and writerly musings. If there’s something you’d like me to talk about, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you next week.