Today I catch the end of the sunset when I take my walk. It turns a brilliant orange against the clouds. As I circle back around, it’s already gone. The rays of the rising sun illuminates the tops of a stand of trees turning orange. Amazing!
Awesome cat photo by Nataba
Come back, do a little writing…and then hit a question that I never asked myself about one of the characters. I write it down so I can let my subconscious chew on it during the day.
And at the end of the day, as I write the next pantsing entry, I realize the true sticking point is fear. I thought it was fear of finishing, though that’s not common for me. So I went back to the Productivity for Writers workshop to watch the lessons on fear. Instead, I discover I’m focusing on the deadline and it was starting to translate as “can’t make the deadline.”
So I’m flipping it to I’m going to have fun finding out what happens to Dice. And it helps. I plow through the scene I had trouble with it and onto the next one. Back to cycling. I need to flesh some things out.
This is an issue that pantsers can be particularly vulnerable to. It’s likely to be why some veer off to outlining in an attempt to solve it.
What is it?
You start writing your story. You’re in the flow of it, having a blast with the characters. Suddenly, bang! You hit a roadblock and stall out. You try to find your way around it. No dice.
In my case, in my first novel, I hit the craft books, looking for answers. No one discussed anything that addressed this.
I asked the writing message boards if anyone had run into this. I’m not quite sure how I got the idea of what I did, but I thought I had a problem with the subplots. Maybe the story felt like it should veer off on a subplot at that time. I’m guessing, also, this problem is where a lot of the structure topics that lead to outlining come from.
I had this problem through multiple books, and it was very frustrating.
The message board writers were very quick to blame the pantsing. The problem was so frustrating for me that I broke down and took a workshop on “Pantser-Friendly Outlining.” Nope. Outlining isn’t a magic fix.
Enter Dean Wesley Smith’s Productivity Workshop, a place I wouldn’t have expected to see the answer.
The 1/3 point of the story is a common place for fear to set in (also the beginning and the ending of the story). You’ve just come out of the fun and excitement of the beginning of the story and now the middle stretches out in front of you. At that time, we were under Dean’s old version of WordPress for the classes, with a few other writers. We all hit that video, heard that, and had the same reaction of “Wow” because it was so on target.
But there’s no “tip” or technique to solve it. You have to work with yourself to figure out what’s going to push you through it. One of the things I had to do was turn off the word count. I always hit it at 10K, so I would start anticipating it, which made it come true.
One word at a time…