This has been my blogging routine over the past couple of months:
1. Think about blogging.
2. Think about how long it’s been since my last entry.
3. Feel guilty about it.
4. Rationalize that I have nothing important to say, anyway.
5. Open another bottle of rosé.
6. Go back to binge-watching Orange is the New Black or House of Cards.
I’ve run out of episodes of both shows, and I’d like to say I’ve run out of excuses. But I still feel as if I have nothing of substance to contribute, and that no one is really reading this, anyway. But I know I should be writing just TO WRITE and not out of any expectation of readership, so I’m going to keep at this.
Speaking of writing without an expectation of readership, I’ve been working on a manuscript for the past six months, and over the past few weeks, it seems as if I’ve hit a wall. Frankly, the story is boring me. The characters don’t seem to be saying or doing anything, and I find myself wondering why anyone would want to read about them. It’s weird, because I’ve been traveling a lot this summer, visiting with friends and having great, varied experiences, yet my fictional world is going nowhere. Finally, last week, I made the decision to set the manuscript aside. It’s not a complete tragedy; though this particular piece has stalled, I may pick it up again at some point, when I can look at it with fresh eyes. But in the meantime, I need to find a way to keep moving forward.
So I’ve gone back into my files and looked around at my other unfinished business, and lo and behold, I’ve found a story I started a few years ago and abandoned under similar circumstances. But looking at it now, it’s giving me ideas. It’s making me feel hopeful again. My goal is to finish a draft by the end of the summer — it’s a story that take place during the summer (more than one summer, actually), so this deadline feels right. As long as there are no other watchable shows on Netflix in the near future, I think I just might be okay.
What do you do when a project seems to be going nowhere? And once I’m finished with this draft, what do you think my next binge-watching experience should be?
This sounds like the story of my life. I have so many unfinished projects, or manuscripts that were turned down and I never got the energy to go back and revise them. It’s especially hard when you have so many ideas, you want to work on them all at once.
Getting away from a project is a good idea when you get bogged down. But sometimes the opposite is true, if I force myself to work on it anyway, sometimes a solution will present itself. I think the trick is to be flexible, and don’t panic if one strategy doesn’t work out. Some stories just need time.
Thanks so much for this, John. It makes me feel so much better to know I’m not alone in my habit of setting things aside. I guess I always thought the process was supposed to be much more linear — but it makes more sense that there really is no right way to create, and that I’m not substandard just because I can’t get from the beginning to the end of something without making a detour!
Lots of unfinished things in my drawers, too. Sometimes some come back to life when the collide, with each other, making layers, or come back to life when I’m in another state, as seems to be what’s happened for you. I’m working on something now that does sometimes bore me, but it’s at a new point, where I can put up new obstacles for more character and we both get more interested.
And just too many answers here re what to binge watch. I’m glad you’re having an interesting summer, and glad whenever you choose to blog!
Thanks for this thoughtful response, Jeannine. I love the idea of “making layers.” I’ve been calling it “Frankensteining,” where I cobble together elements of my discarded ideas. Whatever works, right? 🙂
I totally feel this, lady. Both the stalled-out manuscript for which I have no more energy at the moment, and the Orange is the New Black problem. Thanks for sharing!
Sorry to hear you’re also stalled out, SW, but it’s nice to know I’m not alone! I’m sure you’ll revive an old project or think of something new and fabulous soon! (And in the meantime, I recommend House of Cards, and a great documentary series called The Mortified Sessions.)