#IWSG: Is This The End? Telling whether it’s a writer’s rut or if that story is really finished.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

It’s the first Wednesday in December, which means it’s time for the monthly round-up of writers in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The purpose is to encourage since we all have challenges that can us leave feeling a little (or a lot) insecure.ย  Feel free to hop on over and check out the other participating writers.

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New Edition's Ralph wondering if it was the end. Because, she used to be his when the chips were down..(Source: youtube)

New Edition’s Ralph wondering if it was the end. Because, she used to be his when the chips were down..(Source: youtube)

I recently read a post by Christina C. Jones over at Being Mrs. Jones about her decision to not go forward (at least for now) with a follow-up to her first novel, Love & Other Things. Her words struck a chord with me because I had been planning a follow-up, or a continuation of my own with Graduation Day (GD) and found myself in a similar predicament. The story hit a block, but I wasn’t sure if I’m the block or if the first story was truly the end of the road for this particular character.

Even Boyz II Men didn't want it to end...

Even Boyz II Men didn’t want it to end…

Maybe I was being selfish if this story was done. Kendall, her roommate Ameenah, and her cousin Reese have been around for many years, so I thought that maybe I could be trying to force a full novel. At one point, I completed a manuscript and even had the story edited and cover conceptualized. Then, I shelved it. Why???

Honestly, I got scurred.

scared-gif

I discovered in my process of getting ready to publish that I made several mistakes, one of them being a prologue that was about 90 percent backstory. Another was that I kind of blew through parts of the story and didn’t really devote a lot of time to character development. I wasn’t willing to risk publishing if it wasn’t right.

So, I began making some changes. Went back to the drawing board many times. Fleshed out characters. Took away some. Added new elements. Scrapped pieces that felt clichรฉd and overdone. Struggled with my own insecurities and perceptions about what I write and how I write. Now, with the exception of GD, I feel like Kendall’s story is my eternal WIP.

So, after years of trying to tell her story, was it really that a 2000-word short is ALL she’s got?

seriously-thats-all-you-got

Or was it me? If it was me, then why was this story so effin’ hard to finish? Well, in the process of cleaning up this blog, I happened upon posts from a now-defunct blog of mine and found that my struggle isn’t brand new. And, it’s not just with this particular story. Follow-through, consistency, routine, even confidence or the lack of it, old fears…this has been my struggle as a writer. And the more I went through my old posts, and even revisited some story concepts, the more I knew…

notyouitsme

I have to be able to deal with and push through those issues. Use it as fuel to move forward instead of allowing it to hold me, and ultimately this story, back.

So, how have you been able to handle those internal roadblocks?

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23 comments

  1. I have run into roadblocks. Sometimes I have to step away and work on other things for a bit so I can come back fresh. Usually it turns out to be that I’ve been trying to take the story in the wrong direction. I have to be willing to consider that and not force things that aren’t coming organically. Good luck!

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  2. Doubting yourself really sucks! I’ve been there a lot too. =/ I just keep writing and pushing forward and eventually I come out feeling more optimistic. I wish you the best of luck w/whatever you decide for your characters(and you!). =)

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  3. My favorite author, Anne Lamott, says that trying to finish a story is like putting an octopus to bed: you think you have it all tucked in when a tentacle pops out. Eventually, you just have to let it sleep.

    I’ve always found the best way to try to get through a block is write through it. Even if you just write crap to chip away at it, you can throw it out later. I guess some characters and stories just have to be abandoned eventually, but I try to give them as much CPR as possible before I make that decision.

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  4. It’s so hard to shelve a story that you’d worked so hard on. But sometimes it’s easier than dissecting every page. I also have 3 stories that have been shelved. And a 4th that I refused to give up on! Sometimes it’s better to begin fresh. Good Luck.

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  5. New Edition and Boyz II Men took me back! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I wish I had some good advice for you, but I feel stuck too. I am able to finish projects, but in editing sometimes the stories don’t work, or they aren’t going to work to SELL, which is sort of a different problem. I usually read a book about plotting, which is my weakest element in writing, and see if I can troubleshoot.

    Often the issues goes back to the main character not being faced with a large enough choice with strong enough consequences. If life will generally be the same for the main character if they don’t do XYZ, then the choice doesn’t have large enough stakes. Emotional and physical/tangible stakes are needed to sustain a story, so finding that balance is why this is so hard!

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  6. My internal roadblocks always come from within. I’m always afraid. Afraid of what? I’m not too sure. Of finishing, of stopping, of never hitting my goals. Anything really. I just try to tell myself that my fear can’t hurt me, so I have nothing to lose by facing them.

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  7. Great post, Dahlia, and perfect for IWSG. It’s amazing how much I can get in my own way, and it’s one of the hardest things to realize, and fix. I really respect that you were able to delve into old stuff and figure out the pattern – and so I bet you’ll be able to fix it. Now it’s my turn to figure out what my pattern tends to be…

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  8. With writing you just never know. You could totally shelve this character and then she might show up 10 years from now pregnant by a married man. Heck, you never know! She might always be there with you, but whether or not she wants to move beyond GD is totally up to her (weird how we talk about our characters like they’re actual people. I swear I’m not crazy). In the meanwhile, please finish that story about the older woman whose car breaks down and she gets a ride with that cute young man. I mean, your fans are, like, waiting, dude (no pressure:)

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    1. Very true Quanie…maybe it just isn’t time for her yet. To quote Kevin Hart:
      “Noooo…she wasn’t ready!!!” ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yeah, about that other story…I don’t feel any pressure at all. Nope. Not one bit ๐Ÿ˜€

      Thanks again, I always appreciate your insight!

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  9. When I hit a roadblock I either take a break by getting my mind off it, like a hobby or catching up on my interests. Or do another short writing stint to recharge my thinking cap. Either way, most times intuition/inspiration/instinct hits and it’s like the light bulbs been turned on. And I also sometimes end up having another possible story idea I can work on in the future.

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      1. I couldn’t remember the qoute I wanted to mention but I found it on my goodreads page: “your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”-Ray Bradbury

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