Saturday, September 08, 2007

Flail harder.

Me: Head, meet brick wall. Brick wall, head.

Head: Oh, thanks, but we've met before. Many times.

Brick Wall: Old friends, head and I.

Yep. Here's the thing. You'd think if a person rammed their head into a brick wall over and over, it would be the head that would break -- with deep melonish resonance -- and the wall would stay standing. However, I think it can be proven that in the case of writers, the head can bring down the wall. At least, so it has been for me in the past, so I think it is today, and I hope it continues so in the future. If I just keeping hurling myself at my novel, I will get through it, head intact.

This is all a way of saying, if you're flailing with your writing and you don't think it's possible you'll ever break through your block: flail harder. Flail wilder. Sing while you flail.

My blogging has been taking a backseat to my flailing this week, and the flailing shows signs of paying off. I was having a heck of a time getting through a particular chunk of scenes, but I think I have. I tried a new strategy: index cards. Earth-shaking, I know. I've contemplated trying them before. I've oohed and aahed over the cards pinned to other writers' walls, laying their novel out before their complacent eyes, scene by scene. Pretty, I thought. Perhaps the reason I had not tried it was because I suspected, knowing myself a little, that what I really wanted was to go buy index cards, because let's face it, buying even the most ordinary of office supplies is fun.

And it was kind of fun. They come in colors, and I got some of those, but I got the white ones too, and then I had to come up with a plan of how I was going to use them, and I thought I'd better start at the beginning and I did, and made a card for each scene that I have already written, which was easy, and I got to watch them stack up nicely, and then came the hard part: the new stuff. The stuck stuff. But I did it. I plotted out a new plan for the stuck stuff, just for the pleasure of printing new scenes up at the tops of new index cards, and the ideas fell into place, and I started to get excited.

And here I am now, with a stack of index cards and a tingle of excitement, the kind you get setting out on a journey when a new place is still just words on a map and you know it's all ahead of you.

It's not about the index cards. I know that. It's just another way of hurling myself at the brick wall. Another way of pretending that flailing is really dancing, and that I'm in control.



Amber said...

You are right. It is fun to buy office stuff. ;)


Left-handed Trees... said...

I have been right there with you know. But yesterday, I finally wrote down a to-do list to get me to THE END (which was already written ages ago) and I found out that I could finish easily within four weeks at my current speed and two weeks if I flail harder. Guess what I'm going to try to do? I hope the writing gods give you clemency this week!

deirdre said...

For some reason the thought of singing and flailing tickled my insomniac funny bone and sounds kind of fun too.

And yes, buying office supplies is fun. I like hardware stores too.

Kristy said...

I'm loving the office supplies revelation. Because it's totally true. Paper clips ROCK.

Heather said...

I have an office supply addiction and LOVE going to the stores and touching all the paper and pens and other yummy things!

Glad to hear that you made some progress! Yay you!

[a} said...

"with deep melonish resonance"?? [giggles]

dance/flail away, cherie. & good luck..with whatever writing it is you're struggling with.

Jone said...

I am so with you. Office Depot is as much fun as Powells. Thank goodness I had to write for Sunday Scribblings before working on my national board stuff.
Do you wear a helmet when you hit your head on the brinck wall?
Good luck with your new strategy.

davesap said...

Off-topic, but I had to share the great news that the library in my kids' school has Blackbringer prominently displayed at the front desk with about three or four other books!

lisrobbe said...

Nice post! Questiona: Does the flailing get easier once you've published one book? Does the brick wall hurt less? And congrats on that as well.

tumblewords said...

I've written two novels, self-published, because I don't have the 'index cards' for marketing and submission. Sigh. But it's nice to know that someone has!