Monday, September 24, 2007

Plotting and Brainstorming

I didn't make my writing goal today. I revised my content from last night, and made perhaps a half-page's progress on the rest of the scene. I was having a lot of trouble determining how to wrap up this scene and ultimately end it, and that was really stopping me cold. The initial ideas that I had had when first planning this scene now seemed insufficient, but I couldn't figure out anything better.

Well, after an hour or two of flogging myself with this, trying to come up with something brilliant, I finally realized I could talk it over with my wife, who is also a writer (and a terrific editor). In the past, we haven't talked much about works in progress because we like to give the other one a chance to read the finished product (or at least a mid-level draft) with fresh eyes. But lately we've been breaking that habit, and that's definitely for the better. Brainstorming works so much better with two people than with one. Ten minutes of talking with my wife, and we had eliminated several possibilities and established the general parameters for what could happen in the next part of the scene -- being able to set some boundaries is really important when you have writer's block, or at least it is for me. With that all settled, a really great idea for ending the scene occurred to me straightaway.

Sometimes it's my wife that comes up with the great idea for my writing, sometimes it's me who comes up with the great idea for hers, but often just being able to talk to someone else about a troubling scene makes the writer come up with something all by himself/herself. Certainly, it varies, but the point is that having that second person can be really invaluable. I'm sure I would have come upon a solution eventually, but with my part-time writing schedule, it could have taken days or weeks of misery and blockage. Instead, though today was shot for writing, I'm all set for tomorrow. Tomorrow should be a good day for writing, easy to hit my goal, because I know just what I want to do with the upcoming sections (even though I'm sure that some in-the-moment details will surprise me).

Writers are often rather solitary, as writing is considered a solitary art, but if you find yourself frequently blocked, getting a friend/spouse/family member to be your sounding board might just be the ticket to breaking through. I think a lot of people use their critique partners this way, actually. But even if you don't have a full-out critique partner, having an idea-partner might be a really great way to help keep your writing on track. After all, just having someone to poke holes in your logic is a huge value in itself. Much better that happen during the ideation stage, rather than after everything is done (or worse, after publication).

I'm really glad that I finally realized this. It gives me a lot more confidence that I'll be able to maintain my pace of progress after I run out of content that needs to be revised/expanded.

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