Friday, July 25, 2008

Writer's Log Jam

Maven Jackie BarbosaLike Darcy, I was going to blog about my pre-conference preparations, jitters, and excitements this week, but another topic has been pushed to the forefront of my mind by recent events. You see, I'm in the throes of writing my two contracted but as yet unfinished novellas, and I'm realizing that I have a problem. It's kind of like writer's block, but not exactly. It's more like writer's log jam.

You see, I'm not suffering from a paucity of ideas. Quite the reverse. I have too many!

The novella I'm currently writing (the third chronologically in the anthology, but the second I "conceived") is giving me fits because I'm afraid it won't fit within its 25K-35K boundaries. I have at least a dozen more scenes rattling around in my head that could and/or should go into this story, but I'm already pushing 20K and I'm still miles from the Black Moment. The result is that I'm finding it difficult to decide which scenes I should write and which I shouldn't. Worse, I'm an incredibly linear writer, so I can't just write the scenes out of order and put them together later. I have to know for certain what happened before the scene I'm currently writing, or I can't write it.

To make matters worse, other stories are plaguing me. Driving through the Black Hills on our way back from our vacation in Minnesota the week before last got me itching to write a Western historical (which I never thought I'd do, but the place is just do darned evocative!). Add that idea to all the others taking up space in my brain (there must be at least a dozen, if not more, begging to be written), and I'm finding it quite difficult to concentrate on the projects I'm actually obligated to complete! The words for the stories I must write are getting jumbled up with the words for the stories I want to write.

So, is there a solution to this dilemma? Short of just plugging away and doing what I have to do, I doubt it. But somehow, putting my finger on the root of the problem has me feeling a bit less anxious if nothing else. "Writer's block"--the possibility that my ideas will dry up and I won't be able to write anything at all--terrifies me. Being caught in an idea traffic jam doesn't make me nearly as nervous!

YOUR TURN: Do you suffer from writer's log jam? How do you overcome your selfish desire to set aside the project you're currently working on to start a new one? Or do you just give into temptation?

P.S. I'm also blogging today at the Aphrodisia Authors blog and guest-blogging with my critique partner, Emma Petersen, over at Shiloh Walker's blog. Drop by and see me if you get a chance!


Beverley Kendall said...

I feel like that sometimes and when I'm really jammed, I do give in and work on the next problem. But when I feel like I'm under a deadline, I can't. I just don't have the luxury. Right now I feel like I have a deadline looming over my head.

skirbo said...

I so definitely feel like that at times and fairly often! It's so bad I jump from project to project like a bee with flowers.

Here's hoping some of the ideas pollinate each other. :D


Carrie Ryan said...

I definitely felt like that before I started writing FHT -- I kept flitting around projects, wondering which one was going to be "the one" and which were ones I'd just be wasting time on.

How did I deal with it? FHT just felt right -- I loved every part of it. Never did I think about writing somethig else once I started writing that one. Pure luck :)

Jackie Barbosa said...

Bev, you do have a deadline--you've got a request for a full to fulfill. Which is totally awesome!

Sarah, I love the notion of ideas pollinating one another. I'm going to have to ruminate on that.

Carrie, I think part of my problem is I no longer have the luxury of just allowing myself to work on projects until I find the one that really sings. These novellas are SOLD, so I have to write them! Which makes it kind of like writing a term paper, lol.

Anonymous said...

You already know I'm a butterfly. Going from one project to another landing briefly before flitting off to another.

What I'm learning (key word: Learning) to do is take the time to write down the details of my new ideas and keep them in a story folder. I make sure to put as much info as possible so when I go back I won't have lost all the little details that caught me up with the story to begin with. :D

B.E. Sanderson said...

I usually only worry about one idea at a time, but there have been a couple times now where I've gotten a new idea that was so pushy it wouldn't wait. I tried writing them in my ideas folder. I tried sticking to the WIP. But they wouldn't leave me alone. So I set aside what I was working on, and wrote those books instead. After I was finished, I got back to the original idea. Unfortunately, now that I think about it, it was the same book both times that got knocked out of the way, and I still haven't gotten that one finished. Of course, I don't have contracts or deadlines or anyone waiting for me to finish anything.

MJFredrick said...

I have SO many ideas, and I'm itching to write something new, but I've vowed this is the year I revise all the OTHER books that I've indulged myself with. I made myself a schedule, though, and having that to look forward to may be enough to keep me on track.

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