Tag: writers’ block

What’s in a name, and all that

By far one of the hardest things about writing for me is choosing names for my fictitious people and places. Callie is actually the third or fourth name for that character, and while in the context of the story it’s the best fit, it’s still not my favourite, although it’s grown on me quite a bit. I’m constantly googling things like “french names for boys” or “common last names” because I can never come up with anything I like on my own. Nothing derails my writer’s flow like introducing a new character – whether significant or incidental – and having to call them something.

It’s been mentioned to me that some of my creations’ appellations are a bit too trendy, and I suppose when looked at in a group, that’s true, but I strongly resist having a book full of Joes and Marys and Bills.

Tonight I’ve actually stopped writing for the night in mid-sentence – “He introduced himself as detective…” rather than spend twenty minutes struggling to come up with something I like the sound of. That’ll be the first thing I can tackle tomorrow night with a fresh head.

It’s nice when something just clicks though. Awhile back I was on the bus coming home from work and saw a word carved into the wall of a bus shelter and knew exactly which character I’d give it to. But that’s just one name, and it’s not the one I need tonight.

Dragging my feet

Today I hit 20,000 words!

It’s not quite writer’s block, but I sure seem to be struggling getting through this part I’m working on now. It’s not that I don’t find it interesting or necessary – in fact I’m doing a lot of important relationship building that will be paying off in the future – just that the words aren’t really there. I’m a little muddy on what exactly is going to happen in the next few paragraphs, so it’s hard to push forward.

Part of it is that I’m still thinking about the future, word-wise, and impatient to get there. I also came up with a twist that I’m really, really exicted about – so much so that for the next few hours after I thought of it, I kept remembering and smiling gleefully to myself – but writing that whole part is many, many months and probably years away. I guess it’s enough that I know it’s going to happen, and can write toward it with that knowledge. Already, what I’ve already written makes more sense, and is more relevant, with the eventual inclusion of this twist.

As an aside, why do all my best ideas come to me when I’m driving?

This week I’m determined to get back into my writing routine and steer clear of distractions. Having been away for the weekend without accomplishing much at all, I’m ready to tackle it again. If I can get through the next 3,000 words or so, I’ll get to one of the Big Scenes that’s been shaping itself in my head for the past two months and is itching to get out. That should provide some motivation, right? And that will bring me to the end of chapter four.

What I think I need to do is spend some time in my head on this current scene, and work it all out in there, rather than focusing (obsessing, really – let’s call it like it is) on the Big Scenes and running through them over and over again. I need to remember that the parts in between are important too. So there you go. Time for bed and a little daydreaming – not something I ever complain about!

Overcoming apathy

I went away on vacation for a week and despite my best intentions and dreams of sitting on the beach and by the pool all day, writing endless reams of inspired prose, I never typed a single word. Never opened my document, as a matter of fact. Not even on those six-hour flights on planes without seatback televisions.

It’s easy to fall out of a habit. My routine is to write in the evenings, usually from 11pm until midnight or thereinabouts. Taking a bit of advice from Stephen King’s On Writing, I go down to the basement, close the door of the family room, get comfy (but not too comfy) and go to work without distractions. And I find I really rely on my closed-door routine. In a smallish Hawaiian condo basically confined to a single room after 9pm (so the kids can sleep undisturbed) I couldn’t make my closed-door process work. And I don’t seem to have the right frame of mind to write during the daytime. So when we came back home, I felt apathetic about writing again, compounded by the fact that I didn’t really like how the scene I was in the middle of was going. Even after a three-hour Higher Ground cafe writing marathon with my partner in novelling, I still wasn’t accomplishing much. Last night I struggled through 250 measly words, and that in an hour and a half.

Tonight I broke through. I like how things are shaping up again, I found myself composing a scene I hadn’t even imagined until I started writing (which are usually my favourite ones) and I’m feeling good about where I’ll pick up tomorrow.

One of my supporting characters, Dex, is reminding me more and more of my brother Dan every scene I put him in. Tonight I laughed out loud at something he said, and I didn’t even know he was going to say it until the dialogue started flowing.

I also hit page 30 in my document, which is kind of a milestone. At 12-pt, single spaced, that’s around 18,000 words, and I added another 1,300 or so tonight. For me that’s a good night. I’m a slow, methodical, everything-right-the-first-time kind of writer. I need to think it all through first. A lot of people say the only way to write is to just spew it all out and revise later, but that’s not me – and explaining that is a post for another day. Tonight I’m happy with my progress and looking forward to what the future brings – even if I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next 20 pages!