Sooo, yesterday I wrote a little about making progress through the middle of a novel, and how for me it is kind of like swimming from one buoy to the next -- meeting small goals and wanting to stay there clinging to that little bit of achievement instead of striking out toward the next goal. Almost all day yesterday, I was clinging to a buoy, trying to do anything but stare at the next chapter heading and the blank space beneath it.
I've said before, it's a rule for me to never stare at a blank page. If I find myself doing that, it's straight to the working doc (or sometimes I feel the need to write by hand in a notebook) to write about the scene at hand and brainstorm, or else to freewrite, which pretty much always gives me some way into the scene at hand. What I need when beginning something, be it a book, a chapter, or a scene, is a little something to hold onto (yeah, kind of like a buoy). How to explain this without examples? Hm. Hmmmm. . .
I need the scene to become just real enough in my mind that I have a way of framing it that lets me in. In the case of the teeny-tiny but important *breakthrough* I finally got at around 10:30 last night, it was just an insight into my character's state of mind, bridging the last chapter to the new one, that gave me a starting point. Ah! She'd have her feelings hurt because of [something], and she'd be feeling a little wounded and spiteful, and so she'd do [this.] And I found a first line, a first paragraph, etc. Nothing genius, and maybe it'll get revised out, but it's a place where I can wade in. Not all chapters are difficult to start, but this is the first one after finishing a "section" that I had in my mind as a whole. Now I'm starting on a new "section" and the feelings are a lot like starting a new book.
So I guess I just wanted to say that it took me hours of brainstorming to finally get a very basic insight that allowed me to wade mincingly into the new section.
And I also wanted to say that: writing advice is a funny thing. I know that what works for me won't work for a lot of people. Yesterday (when I should have been writing) I followed a chain of links that led me to this piece about fighting perfectionism. Of course, I hoped to find a trick I might use, but in fact, though she describes the affliction of perfectionism extremely well, and though I think her tips are great advice, I have learned that they aren't in fact the optimal way to get my own particular brain to do what I want it to do. Not that she's wrong! I'm sure she's right that it's better not to reread what you've written, and to shut off your inner critic. It must be better than the endless rereading that I do. But. Nevertheless. I have given myself permission to proceed with my own painstaking process, efficiency be damned.
I tried to write a different way recently. I wrote a NaNo manuscript with my inner critic shut away in a pickle jar, and without reading what I wrote as I went. I zipped through to the end like one long freewrite. And you know what? At the end of it, you couldn't have paid me to read what I had written. I still haven't read it! Working that way killed all interest I had in that story. Personally, I need to fall in love with a story sentence by sentence. I need to fit pieces of plot together with the care of a jeweler setting gems -- picture me, little jeweler's glass stuck in one eye, tiny tweezers in my hand, working very slowly. I need the joy of craft to keep me engaged. I need to reread what I've written and be thrilled with it and proud of myself and in love with my words, and then go on.
That's me. I'm just saying: take all writing advice with a grain of salt. You might need to ignore even the most logical and sound advice; your brain needs what it needs; learn your own mind, develop your own owner's manual to your brain, and proceed accordingly.