Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It's Not Always Clear In Here

Before I get started with my first contribution to the Insecure Writers Support Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, I want to let you in on a little secret.  I have been following a wonderful writer since I started this blogging experience.  The first Wednesday of every month she would post something with the IWSG Logo.  Every month I went to her page expecting to see a sample of her WIP and every month I was disappointed.  Instead, she wrote about the process of her writing.  At the end of the post, she posted a link back to the IWSG and suggested that we see what other writers were doing.  Now, each month I thought to myself, "I don't want to read THEIR Work In Progress.  I want to read YOURS.  Every month I come to your page expecting to support you by giving you encouraging comments on your work and each month you write about your writing and then suggest I visit OTHER PEOPLE."  Mental head smack. 

It took me about a year to figure out that IWSG wasn't about supporting the writing, it was about sharing all of the stuff that goes on with the writing.  My friend wasn't doing it wrong as I had thought for so long.  Hahahaha.  As par for the course, I didn't understand the concept of the group.

I just started novel writing again.  I never finished my first one.  I didn't burn it or anything.  I am not sure that I will ever get back to it, but I decided to move on.  I vacillate between being frustrated with my writing and thrilled that I can put any sort of story together.  In my head I know that rough drafts are... rough.  The point is to get through them with the concept of the novel and then go back and polish it up.

I spend as much time thinking about this novel as I do writing it.  Some characters gel easily for me in terms of who they are, how they think, what they want.  Others are vague.  What helps you get a grasp on these sorts of characters?  More thinking time?  Or do you spend some time just writing and it comes out in a stream-of-consciousness-sort-of-flow?  This material is not necessarily writing that would be included in the novel, but gives you, as the writer, the sense of who they are.

I suppose this all comes back to being stuck and getting unstuck.  How do you unstick yourself when a character, scene, plot device, or any other aspect of your story is not moving for you?  What do you do?

Here is a link to the IWSG main page.  You can see a list of everyone who is participating in this event.  I hope that you will drop in and offer up some encouragement to some aspiring writers.  Lord knows we all need it!


  1. I write about my characters a lot for prewriting. I ask them questions, write back stories and sometimes even do journal entries as them. I get in my characters' heads. Then when I sit down to write I already know the characters and just let them do their thing.

    When I get stuck on a specific area, I take a walk. I listen to crazy music. I fix things around my house. In short, I get my brain out of the way of my heart, where great writing takes place. I hope that helps.

  2. It's inspiring to hear how other writers hit the page, work through problems, deal with that mean voice inside. That's what is so wonderful about Alex and his band of ninjas. I'm glad you joined.

  3. when I'm stuck I generally 'just keep writing'. a lot of that superfluous stuff goes by the wayside, but it does help to move me of dead center. I usually have one character that I'm 'dead on' with and the rest kinda have to find their way around the MC. That might not have made much sense (that would be me), but think on it for awhile. Welcome to the IWSG.

  4. I'm starting to find that when I get really stuck on something in a story, whatever it may be, it helps to take a nap. When I wake up and look at my manuscript again, the solution seems so obvious to my now rested and refreshed brain.

    - James.

  5. Steven ~ I never considered journaling for each character, but that is a wonderful idea. As for the plot, I can see that doing something else might be the best course. Free up the brain for a bit..

    Joylene ~ Yes, it is helpful getting the ideas of others!

    farawayeyes ~ I have done some of that and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Of course, the stuff that doesn't work is often as helpful as the stuff that does. It rings false and helps point me in a better direction. As for the character or characters that you see clearly... you build the rest around them. Is that what you're saying?

    James ~ A nap. Well, that is certainly an idea:)

  6. Hi Robin - welcome to ISWG - so glad you did get the concept cause it's important. This is a place to share anything and everything about our writing journey. When I feel stuck, I set the manuscript aside for awhile. Then I begin asking myself questions to try to find out what might need shifting or changing. You'll find what works for you, I have no doubt.

  7. When I'm stuck, it's generally because there's a problem somewhere and I don't even know where, I just know I went off the rails along the way. Then it takes me a few days to figure out *why* I'm unhappy and where the problem is. At least once I figure out the problem I can find a solution pretty quickly. Good luck! :-)

  8. Welcome to your first post! Sorry I'm late.
    The secondary characters are always difficult for me. Sometimes it helps to write down a little bit about them, as much as you know, and then give them some quirks and twist a few things. From there, more will emerge as you write.

  9. I just let things go where they seem to want to go and that tends to work out for me.

  10. I have a detailed character sheet that I do for every character. Helps me to know them better. I've used it in classrooms when I've spoken to schools. Maybe I need to post it one day for everyone?

  11. Karen ~ Thanks for the idea!

    Lexa ~ Good point!

    Alex ~ Thanks for the ideas. All of these are great:)

    Pat ~ :)

    Diane ~ Yes, I would share that because I am sure it would help. Visual aids = good idea:D

  12. A good way of explaining what IWSG is about (it seemed to me, when I thought 'heck, I should join this!') What's going on with others, what makes them tick or cringe, and do I share that? I'm enjoying it (and I love the photo...)

    Diana at About Myself By Myself

  13. Good luck to you and all the bloggie writers. Success is right at your fingertips.

  14. Hi Robin,

    Once again, I sure hope I get bonus points for commenting at such a ridiculous time in the morning Yep, two thirty in the morning of Thursday. I'm typing from the future. Neat,eh.

    Before I continue, it took me a year to find out that"IWSG" was not a dedication to me. I've almost recovered from the shock! :)

    Personally, I never get stuck. I have no plot, no themes and characters who go as they please. I am the characters and they are as idiosyncratic as me. Being a rebel and having no pressure, works very well for me.

    Thank you and goodnight. Time zones!


  15. Sounds like you've got a good handle on the process of getting to know your characters. It sounds like the way it works in my head. Lots of thinking before the writing. I often write tons of backstory scenes just to get to know them, especially if I get stuck somewhere in the real story. I just say, how would they have acted if...and then write. Since I know it's not going in the novel the pressure is gone. I start to write and then I just slip back into the main plot when I'm done.

  16. I get stuck all the time. In between being stuck, I kinda just write and let the characters guide me through the writing.

    I'm so glad you joined the IWSG, Robin. Your input is always valuable and thoughtful.


  17. Robin, Welcome to the IWSG! It is a wonderful group and everyone I've read and/or received comments from has been such an encouragement. When I get stuck, I've found that the only way to get unstuck is to keep writing. Even when I don't feel like the words make sense, even when I feel as if everything I'm saying is all wrong, I just write. Stream-of-Consciousness writing is a concept I grasped in college. If I feel I have nothing to say, I just start writing whatever comes to mind. Not only does it help unblock the words, I end up discovering new and exciting story paths!

    Best of luck to you in your new novel! And, again, welcome to the Group!


  18. LOL - Glad you figured out what IWSG was and joined.

    You struggle with the same stuff we all do. For the vague parts, sometimes time and pondering it helps. Sometimes I'll be reading a book (for pleasure) and something about a scene or character will give me some inspiration--often when there's not much in common with my story--but something about it just clicks. Sometimes I'll be doing something totally unrelated, like cooking or cleaning, and have an epiphany. If none of those things happens, I leave it as is and await the advice of beta readers or critique partners.

    Great post! Welcome to the group! :)
    August co-host and IWSG #110

  19. Diana ~ I can see the "do I share that?" being a relevant part of the thinking for future IWSG postings!

    Manzanita ~ You have always been so concerning my desire to write fiction... even though you don't read it. You are so dear to me.

    Gary ~ Ha! You make me laugh.

    Charity ~ Your writing backstory is similar to someone's idea of journaling on behalf of the characters. Both ideas are great. Thank you!

    Robyn ~ Write through it. Yep. I can see that working, too. You can always delete the stuff that doesn't work.

    Jen ~ I can see that writing stream of consciousness would be helpful. Perhaps, not in that chapter necessarily (you can always cut and paste if you write something wonderful), but to get unstuck and find out where you're going!

    Melissa ~ It is ridiculous that it took me so long to figure it out... honestly. Funny that you say that about reading something in another story and it clicking. I know just what you mean. It can be a plot device. That happened to me just the other day when I was reading and I thought to myself, "I think I can do something similar in my own novel." Obviously similar and different, of course. I often get ideas when I am out walking the dog. So, I get what you're saying.

  20. I think that's one of the great things about the IWSG...the diversity in everyone's writing process.

    What works for me, might not work for you and vice versa. For me, these differences are how we learn and grow.

    The support is just the icing on the cake :)

  21. Loved your first post and nice to meet you! To answer your question, if I get myself stuck I start at the beginning and try to find out where I lost my red thread. Good luck on finding yours!

  22. Mark ~ True about the diversity. I love all of the ideas. Some will work better for me than others (I think), but it is interesting to know what helps!

    Siv ~ The elusive red thread. Going back to the start is not a bad idea... maybe in reading the whole thing from the beginning you see it more clearly!

  23. great explanation!
    and i do something else, then if im still stuck, i write spmething else (my next post, a poem about being stuck...) or read. sooner or later im ready to be unstuck!

  24. I just finished a writing class and am about to take another with the same teacher. She says the thinking time counts as writing. I've been pondering something for about two months now, and finally, it came to me what I had to do in my WIP. I'm not sure I could have written it stream of conscious. I needed a lot of "what if" time before it could percolate to the surface!


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