Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Wall

There's always a point in my writing where I crash into a huge wall of holy-crap-what-am-DOING? At first it would make me doubt my story, but I've written enough books to know that The Wall is just part of the process. There's always a point where you get overwhelmed with all the story elements and how in the world are you supposed to tie it all together in an intelligible manner?

My wall is always somewhere between 20-30k. Seriously, every time. I'm going along at lightning speed, everything is flowing, I'm feeling great, and then...SMACK. I just stand there, scratching my head.

What now?

This is where I'm at with the WIP. It's kind of like I let a litter of kittens out in my house, and now they've spread out and found hiding spots. My job is to gather them all up, coax them out, wait patiently for the to come sit in my lap. (Gosh, can you tell I'm sick? Talk about wacko comparisons...)

Oh, the middle of books. Admit it, it's totally like trying to herd cats.

I think I caught one kitty yesterday, but I have quite a few more to go. And who knows? That cat could escape the second I catch another. But then I start to figure things out. By 50k it's like I realize all I have to do is open a can of cat food and they all come running. It's usually pretty smooth sailing after that.

28 comments:

  1. Okay. I seriously love the cat herding comparison! PERFECT!

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  2. Yes, OMG, yes. I usually take a break from the ms at this point and go work on something else and then return at some later date with all the answers. Seems like a weird process, but it works for me.

    I'm on my 3rd round of edits and I still feel like one or two kittens are hiding from me. Maybe I should go find some treats...

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  3. YES, I totally get like this towards the middle, too. It's between 20k-30k for me, it can be like torture.

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  4. I always hit that point exactly halfway through whatever I'm working on -- whether I'm writing a short story or a novel. Those middles are pesky.

    Good luck barrelling through your wall, and gathering those cats like the Pied Piper.

    P.S. I love wacko comparisons, BTW. Feel better!

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  5. I am SOOOO there! Thanks for the post. Now I don't feel like I'm alone. =) And the cat thing... don't forget to look under the couch cushions.

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  6. Floundering at 33K right now. I agree, though, once you get past that 50K mark, everything just tumbles together, but I'm having trouble figuring out something exciting enough to happen next.

    Good luck!

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  7. There is a magical place I go to, where all the right answers just pop into my head. It just takes me forever to remember where to go.

    It's the shower.

    If I open that file in my brain and pull up my characters, I get a "Shazaam" moment. It's usually a great twist that propels the story forward like a roller coaster after the bar's locked down. There's no stopping it.

    I think it has something to do with steaming my brain open, like an envelope that holds a secret letter.

    Anxious to read your novel HERDING CATS. I don't even like cats, but I'll read that.

    Lesli

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  8. yep, the only way to get through the wall is to keep going. Herding cats is difficult, but not impossible ;)

    Lyn
    W.I.P. It: A Writer's Journey

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  9. The Wall is such a great way of putting it. I strike against it twice-once at about 15,000 words and then again around 30-40,000. I think I like your scenario better...

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  10. Lol love the kitty metaphor, actually. I think it's quite apt. NOT that I speak from experience or anything... {shifty eyes}

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  11. This happens to me around 25 or 30k too. So annoying... just have to push through I guess.

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  12. Hmmmm... more planning needed before the cat round-up moment?

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  13. everyone needs to shut off their wordcounts. like right now. i think that just dams up your creative flow and closing doors in your imagination instead of keeping them open for you. just write your story, let your characters take you where they need to go and let them tell you what happens. get lost in your work. let yourself get lost in the world you're building. writing should be fun and an invigorating outlet for you. not such a struggle and frustration. hope you all find your words soon (or they find you :)

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  14. Thank you so much for your post--I'm feeling rather disjointed and stuck at the moment as well, and you reminded me that the chaos can be tamed.

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  15. I love the comparison! Knowing so many other writers hit the same problem at about the same spot makes me think there may be life after all for my WIP!

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  16. The kitty metaphor was inspired!
    I get all those thoughts going just about the time I am ready to turn off the light and try to sleep. Then I get the pad and pen by my bed, and do some diagramming, and arrows and such.
    Try herding a group of two year olds.
    Susan

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  17. Oh my goodness. Herding cats. It is so like that. I'm coming up on 15K and expecting it to fall apart.

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  18. So instead of the muddle in the middle you have the scattered pack theory of writing. LOL

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  19. Oh man, is it bad I START this way?

    Great comparison. :)

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  20. i had to smile at the cat scenario. We had a Sheltie who would herd the cats in every night through the dog door. LOL

    As far as that wall, it always happens, that's went a sub plot can really come in handy.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

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  21. I thnk my Wall wordcount is the same as yours. I get the beginning going fine, know my ending but then get a bit stuck about how to get the characters there.

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  22. I think this is my favorite analogy of all time. It reminds me of a real-life instance of trying to herd puppies. My sister and I didn't realize there was a hole in the fence, so she kept passing them back over to me and then another would get out. We were all Three Stooges about it until we realized, "Derr, plug the hole."

    Off to stockpile writerly catfood! Whatever that may be...

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  23. If they don't claw your hand practically off . . .
    I'm trying to start a new book. It's killing me. I've rewrote it 3 times already. I spent two hours and only wrung out 2 pages.
    Blah!

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  25. All of my books have been very different so even though I’ve written five novels I can’t say I’m cocky about writing a sixth. I can’t imagine not doing even though I’m in that post-novel state of never wanting to put pen to paper ever again. Only two novels have presented me with the wall you describe, my third and my last. With the third I wrote about 25,000 words and then suddenly realised I had no idea where the book was going. I hadn’t reached a wall, I’d reached a cliff! My solution was to put the work aside for what turned out to be two years, work on short stories, poetry and I think I wrote a play during that time too and then once I’d pretty much disconnected with what I’d written go back to the book again which I did with a fresh perspective and a new voice and I finished it with little difficulty. With the fifth I fell sick after 23,000 words and couldn’t string two words together and although I pottered away at editing the 23,000 I basically did no new writing for three years. The time delay again worked in my favour because I again found a new voice and a different direction to the one I started out with. I don’t write for a living so I have this luxury of course but I do think I write better books by not being in too much of a rush to get them finished.

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  26. My wall is around 40K when I have like three things left to happen in the plot but the enthusiastic NEW STORY GLOW has paled and I am so sick of it that I want to go 1. 2. 3. list THE END.

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  27. Oh man! I'm so there! Good luck!

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  28. Couldn't agree with you more, seriously. Same exact wall point for me too. Guess I should start herding the kittens! (That was gold, I don't care if you were sick when you came up with it.)

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