Thursday, April 9, 2015

Creative Writing:What To Do When Your Work Goes Flat

Writing Tip: What To do When Your Work Goes Flat

Listen up Creative Writers, here's something I learned: Writers Need to Listen or Tune in to Their work. Let me elaborate.

My novel-in-progress is a sequel to the one I just finished, meaning I have the same characters in the story.  I was working on a chapter involving my protagonist, a widow, who has had to cope with her loss in the other novel. In my recent writing, I was treating her as she had been, and while I was able to write some pages, the work went flat. I could feel it lose energy and I felt I didn't know how to continue. In other words, the chapter was boring.

I kept tinkering with the chapter until suddenly it came to me that my widow character had changed and she was much stronger in this current novel-in-progress than she had been in the other one. My continued treatment of her as still a floundering widow no longer worked. She was now more upbeat, more outwardly focused, more aggressive in a way.

If you look at this diagram, courtesy of, my widow had already undergone a character change in the last novel, and she was now in another place. She is on another character arc journey in this novel-in-progress.

I resumed writing the draft with this view and the work moved forward.

The experience made me realize that often when the writing is not working, it's because the writer has not paid attention to the work. In other words, in a kind of mystical way, the work-in-progress tries to communicate with the writer. What we call "writers block" or lack of energy in the work are ways the story is trying to call the writer's attention to problems.

To cite another example of this situation, when I wrote the first draft of my novel, my setting was wrong. I had placed my characters in Ubec in the 1950s.  In the draft, the characters were constantly speaking about the past, during the war, when they had to do this or that in order to survive.  I had over 200 pages of this draft, that didn't work as a novel. I had to realize that this was a World War II novel, before I could rewrite it accordingly.

It's somewhat mysterious, and I'm not sure I'm making a lot of sense, but maybe some writers who read this will get what I mean.

Read also
Explosion and Drawing as Writing Exercises
Your Writing Work Space
The Importance of Sensual Writing
photo courtesy of

Tags: creative writing, writing, novel, writer, author, literature

This is all for now,

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