When I started writing Affliction, I had main characters in mind, the skeleton of a plot and a vague idea of how the book would start and end. The middle was a vast abyss of nothingness. When it comes to plotting, I usually fly by the seat of my pants. I’ve always trusted the process. The act of writing stimulates the creative part of my brain, resulting in forward progress. Sure, once in a while, I’d write myself into a corner and have to backtrack. But, it was usually an easy fix and I considered it a learning experience. Six chapters flew by and then my fingers froze on the keyboard. I was stuck. Here’s what happened next:
1. I brooded and indulged in a lot of negative self-talk. What the heck’s wrong with you? Yikes! After eight books are you out of juice?
2. I forced myself to write. As the saying goes, you can’t edit a blank page. When it took me an hour to write two sentences, I knew it wasn’t working. This was followed by . . .
3. More brooding.
4. I tried writing in long hand, a technique that sometimes works for me. Not this time.
5. I comforted myself with junk food which, in turn, led me to . . .
6. The Solution. Concerned about putting on weight from the aforementioned junk food, I hit the elliptical machine at our local fitness club. Something about the music feeding directly into my brain via ear buds, mindless repetition as I sweated and pedaled, plus the oxygenated blood surging through my body did the trick.
Remember my term, “vague idea of the plot line?” I realized I was a little too vague. I was writing romantic suspense, for Pete’s sake! I had a spunky little heroine named Mel. I had a sexy Harley-Davidson riding ex-Marine named Billy. I had dead bodies, nasty villains, stolen babies and human trafficking. Way too many moving parts for an author flying by the seat of her pants. I needed details. I needed more characters. I needed more plot details. OMG, was I becoming a plotter? Were my pantser days over?
Happily, I was soon back on track after taking some time to answer the obvious questions. Who? What? Why? Where? When? Part plotter, part pantser. It works for me. And, if it happens again, I know how to get through it.
Eat junk food.