On my current story I’ve hit an all too familiar wall; the end of the first page. Well this isn’t really the first page, this is some 1600 words in, but it’s been a continual problem for me since I’ve started to write creatively.
Initially I would sit down to free-write and put down a page or so (we’re talking a Microsoft Word page here – so possibly a few pages of a book), and I would just fizz out. My creativity would come to an abrupt end and the only way forward was for me to sit and think about how the story was going to progress from that point forward.
I always think of a writing class I attended where the teacher likened novel outlining to an architect – you wouldn’t build a house without a plan now would you? When it comes to writing, there’s two very distinct types: the outliners and the ‘pantsers’.
The outliners outline the entire story before even starting. When their fingers hit the keyboard, they’ll already have an idea of where the story is going, how it ends, and how it gets there. Of course there’s a big chunk of creative process in the middle there, but they work much of this out before they begin. This can also be a problem if someone over-outlines, as they can potentially kill the creative process, so the end result appears contrived and just a little too perfect.
A ‘pantser’, writes by the seat of their pants. They sit down with an empty page and write. They work out all the details on the fly and hammer it into shape during the drafting process. The biggest issue a panster faces is considerable amounts of re-writing. As they blindly push forward, mining their brain for ideas and dropping them onto the page, it is also likely to emerge as a tangled mess, that requires considerable time to form into something awesome.
As for me, I am definitely an outliner. I need to know where I’m going before I begin – but here’s the kicker; with this story, I know where I’m going. Unlike my first story, where the ending eluded me for a good chunk of it, this time I know the ending. I also know the beginning. It’s the middle – the guts of it, where I’m stuck. I’ve come to the end of the first two scenes, the characters are introduced, there’s slowly climbing suspense, and bam! Brick wall.
I have edited the first two scenes more than I should. With my original story, I pushed right through to the end, allowing myself to write utter crap, and then began re-drafting it. Someone told me that the end of the first draft is where the real work then begins, and man were they right, but in this instance, I’m repeating my original mistakes. I’m at this particular point and fighting to get the words out – the new words.
Sometimes they flow, but other times, they have to be dragged kicking and screaming out of my head and stapled to the page. There is only one way to get past this wall, it’s to just write. It doesn’t matter how bad the words end up on the page, they just need to be there. You cannot edit a blank page.
Even though I know all of this, it’s still a struggle to get them out. But stay tuned! Let’s see how this goes.