Sunday, January 22, 2012

Analysis Paralysis

There I was, merrily typing away this weekend - 2K+ each on Friday and Saturday - and got up this morning to try to put in at least two more today.

I'd had a long dry spell that I always blamed on the day job and lack of time/energy, etc.  But the truth was that I just didn't know where the stories were going. I was afraid I couldn't create a believable, exciting enough plot. I got tangled up in doubts and couldn't seem to extricate myself to move forward. The harder I tried to force it, the worse it got.

Until this past Thursday evening.

While thinking of something else entirely, a line I'd read somewhere flashed in my mind. "Plot is simply what the characters have to go through to reach their goal."


I'd been fretting over action, intrigue, etc., but it all hinged on goals. What did my characters want? What were they trying to achieve?  Simple, right?

I suddenly felt very relaxed and simultaneously energized. I let that epiphany settle in for the next several hours until I was totally at ease with the idea. Lo and behold, Friday evening, after already having worked twelve hours, I sat down and easily added another 2K+ words to a manuscript. Didn't even break a sweat. Got up Saturday and did the same thing. In fact, I could have written more, but I deliberately held back so I wouldn't wear myself out.

I got up this morning, determined to do it all again... until I read this blog on believable characters. 

It's a great blog, it really is. But things like that tend to bring me to a screeching, doubt filled halt.  Suddenly, I was hung up again on not being good enough. Were my character flat? Cliches? Unoriginal? 

Oy vey! How could I possibly write a novel? I'm not nearly good enough!

Now I'm trying to recover from the doubts again. It took me the past two YEARS to come to grips with plot. Now I have to deal with character, too?!

You know what?  I'm just going to try to not worry about it right now.  Just keep writing until the darn thing is finished and then go back to see if the characters need more work. At that point, I can use Rick's great blog as a thermometer to see they're ill. And I'll be grateful for it then.

Right now, I just need to stop worrying about it and get on with the process. Like Nora Roberts says (I think she said it) "You can fix a bad page, but you can't fix a blank page." 

Though, actually, I think you fix the blank page by filling it up with stuff - even if it's bad. :)


  1. If the blog had that effect on you, I'm not going to read it. I don't need those doubts!

    Congrats on the writing. Yay!!!!!

  2. LOL. Don't let my insecurities influence you, Edie. It was a good blog.

    Thanks for the kudos. I put in another thousand a little while ago. May add more later. I'm just glad to see the count going up. :)

  3. Once the stuff is down, I figure you can always fix it. But if it's not there... Well.

  4. Charles, you're absolutely right.

    I do hate writing crappy first drafts, though. They make me cringe inside, but it has to be done.

  5. Get it out while the ideas and words are flowing. If you know your characters' goals, then get them there first. Re-writes are for fixing and perfecting.

    And even "crappy" first drafts have their uses.

  6. Your books are right up my alley. I'm going to add them to my TBR pile ;-)


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