Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Silent Voices

My characters are not speaking to me.

I'm sure all of you who are writers have experienced this at some point or another. Knowing that is comforting, but somehow not quite helpful.

I've written the character studies. I know these people. The plot is all outlined and summarized. I've even written the first 2 chapters and one in the middle.

But now I'm drawing a blank. I've fallen victim to my own self-criticism. I'm crippled by doubt. It sucks. It's amateurish. It's too outlandish. The devil is in the details and even though I can come up with the summary and plot outline, I feel unable to write the nuts and bolts. I'm incapacitated by fear over the sheer magnitude of the project.

I have to write how many pages?!

I believe in the characters and the story. But I fall into the trap of comparing my writing with already-published writers and of course I pale by comparison.

I ask myself, is it even worth the effort? Can I ever hope to compare?

All of this inner hand-wringing is obviously stifling my creative process. Although I am tempted to give in and believe the inner critic, I am also determined not to give up.

So, what do all you other writers out there do to get your inner critic to shut the heck up and allow the words to flow?


Leon Basin said...

Hello, fellow writer..

b luis grey said...

What's the name of your favorite character?

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh my, this is exactly what I felt like last week! When they stopped talking to me, I stopped writing and I know I shouldn't have but maybe they need some space?

Susan Storm Smith said...

OMG silence is golden except to a writer trying to finish a project. I can so relate!

Stina Rose said...

That inner critic is a pain sometimes. Don't you just want to buy him a ticket to the moon for an extended vacation? I have been there! Usually I have to set that project aside for a few days and work on something else before the characters will speak to me again.

Anonymous said...

It must be the time of year for everyone. I, too, am having trouble finishing a project. I have put the WIP to the side for now. Just a few days or a week. Most of the time the character(s) will feel they are being ignored and start speaking again. Best of luck.

CDP said...

The only thing I can do is just sit there and type anything that comes to mind; eventually, I usually end up with something, which leads to something else.

Suldog said...

I rarely have writer's block, but when I do, I find it helpful to re-read some of the stuff I've previously written. I usually find it entertaining, and it boosts my ego.

A much better writer, Mark Twain, would put manuscripts away for years and come back to them. He did that with Huck Finn, as I recall, and we know how that turned out :-) Sometimes you just need to take a break and work on something else.

Hope this helps a bit.

Embee said...

You guys are all awesome! Thanks for the suggestions and encouragement.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Work on a totally different project when you feel stuck. (Oh, and gag that inner critic however you can!) Sometimes letting the ms simmer on a back burner brings new stuff to the surface. Or maybe it's just that your characters are enjoying their Christmas season and will be ready to work in the new year. :)

MilesPerHour said...

I get this when I am wrting music or lyrics even more often than when I am blogging. I just let it be and come back another day.

b luis grey said...

I've been working on the same project for years. I've only got 3 Chapters. I'm constantly revising it when I restart. My restarts can be months. Once it was almost a year. Those that have read the first chapter say it's great... whatever that means. Time will tell.

Fran said...

You must JUST WRITE - free-flow the material onto the page. Do three pages of this a day, and CLOSE the manuscript. Do not look back.

The next day, edit, re-write - whatever it takes at that moment, then move on to the next free-flow writing for three pages.

You must never interrupt writing flow with the editing. This is disastrous. The writer and editor in you are two separate entities!

If you do these relatively simple things, assuming the passion is truly there, you will have 300 pages of first draft by the spring, and 450 pages if you get carried away and work through to the summer.

You are over-analyzing.

Oh, and I love your blog.