Writer’s block. Dreaded words for a dreadful condition. Thankfully, there are blog posts, articles, and books devoted to this ailment. The afflicted writer can easily find tips and remedies to deal with this condition and start writing again.
For me the stalled story is much more frustrating. Perhaps I am the only one suffering from this condition, but I suspect I am not alone. I have plenty of ideas to work with. In fact, I have a notebook full of ideas that I will get to someday. I write both YA and MG novels, and I had a banner year in 2015. I wrote three full first drafts. They came easily. Now the proverbial inkwell seems to have run dry.
My secret shame is that I haven’t finished a manuscript in over three years. I have worked on revisions and strengthened existing manuscripts, but I have not finished a new story. Currently, I have four partial manuscripts—works in progress (WIPs). For each of these stories, I have a beginning, and I know how the end will work. I have casts of interesting characters and unique conflicts.
My problem seems to be the middle. I can build the path to the inciting action, but I am having trouble moving from that point to the conclusion. I even have outlines, but somehow, I am struggling to connect the dots with words.
In the past, I would put a story aside and start on a new one with the intent to come back and finish the WIP. Unfortunately, now I am accumulating a collection of WIPs.
What is the solution? I think for me it is to treat this like a form of writer’s block. I am going to pick off each WIP one at a time and just start writing. My goal is to add 800 to 1,000 words a day. I am not going to worry about the quality. I can go back and revise after the WIP is a FM (finished manuscript). I won’t worry about the word count. Instead, I am going to worry about writing 1,000 words a day until I reach the end. My completed manuscripts all grew by nearly 100% once I revised them (I have revised so many times I have lost count). My main concern is to drive my story from the beginning to the end. Hopefully, by the end of the calendar year, I will have whittled down the number of WIPs hanging out on my hard drive waiting to be completed.
QUESTIONS FOR READERS:
Does anyone else suffer from the stalled story? If so, how do you get the story moving forward?
Eva Polites has been a member of SCBWI since 2014. She is an adjunct at York College of Pennsylvania and has contributed to Eastern Penn Points in the past. You can find Eva on Facebook and Twitter at @EvaPolites.
Yes! Thank you for this post that identifies what the stalled story is. A solution for me has been to having a pseudo-critique partner where the real goal lies in getting that next chapter written as opposed to a normal critique. It’s really more of an accountability partner, but it works for us and we do offer feedback. We have both made further progress on our WIPs now that we meet regularly, so fingers crossed that we get to write “the end” someday in the not-so-far-off future.
What a great idea–an accountability partner.
The “stalled revision” was my novel length nemesis. I signed up for an online class to get myself moving on it. Putting that money down made me take it very seriously!
Spending money is a great motivator:)