Posted Jul 5 2012, 3:08 pm in , , , , , , ,

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It’s summer time and as I’ve said before, the kids are home most of the time, which makes writing harder. My writing has always slowed down over the summer, but right now, I’ve been feeling a little stuck on my WIP. It always happens at about the halfway point for me in any book. The mucky middle. Then my brain opens to new characters and ideas and I’m tempted to go off and write about them. But I won’t let myself. 

The new characters and ideas are the reason I don’t consider this writer’s block. To me, writer’s block is when there are no words. I have words, I just don’t really know what I need to move the story. Where I usually get about a thousand words an hour, right now, I’m lucky if I get half that.

So I procrastinate. Sometimes procrastination takes the form of housework. When I have a sticky plot point I clean out a closet. Unfortunately, it’s not a plot point. I don’t don’t know quite where I’m going (which is what happens when you’re allergic to outlining). Instead, I allow myself to get sucked into more reading. In the last two weeks I’ve read a bunch. Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor series is a favorite of mine. I read the first and third books awhile ago, but somehow missed the middle book, The Sweetest Thing. It was on sale a couple of weeks ago, so it got bumped up on my TBR list. I finished it and I’m now on Lucky in Love.

I also read Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. SEP is such a fabulous author and hilarious to boot when you meet her in person. Although I loved the book, I felt a little cheated because while it’s written in 3rd person, we only get the heroine’s POV (and other characters’ POV) until the very end of the book where we get the hero’s POV. I would’ve liked to have had Ted’s POV throughout, but I think that if SEP did that, it might’ve felt a little like the conflict was “A big misunderstanding,” which it wasn’t, but it might’ve had that feel. Still well worth the time.

I read Shannon Stacey’s new novella, Slow Summer Kisses. I’m not much of a novella reader, but I love Shannon’s contemporaries and this delivered. I can’t wait until the new Kowlaski books come out.

The upside of letting my writing slide for a little while is that I can let my mind wander a bit. I started thinking about what I’d like to write next and started thinking about who those characters are. But the big bonus for me this time is that I went back to thinking about a book I finished last year and never went back to revise because I got sidetracked with writing and revising other things. I didn’t do the revision on that book because I know it’s full of holes and I’m not sure what to do with them, but the bigger problem is that my hero is cardboard. I never took the time to get to know him and figure him out. I’ve written like that before, but usually, by the time I get to the halfway mark, I know my characters. I’ve learned that giving myself time to discover my characters makes writing much easier. Part of discovery is creating collages and developing a playlist. These are things that intimidated me before, but once I tried it, I was amazed. I keep it simple, but it’s like unlocking a box of your characters’ secrets.

Anyway, my lull in writing has allowed my brain to reopen to the possibilities for Zac and Macy. I’ve got the beginnings of how to fix that messed up manuscript. I don’t think I’ll actually do any real rewriting yet because I’m always afraid I’ll end up with a pile of incomplete manuscripts. I feel the need to plow through to at least get that first draft done. But now I have direction, and it feels good.

How do you procrastinate when things aren’t going the way you want?



2 responses to “Stuck”

  1. Debra Eve says:

    Congrats on your new site, Shannyn. It looks fantastic! And I’ve decided not to call it procrastination anymore…I’m incubating 🙂

    • I often incubate in between books. For me that’s the time to do my discovery. But I suppose since I haven’t abandoned all thoughts about this WIP I could call this incubating too. Much better. Thanks