Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stop and Stare

As many of us are working out the kinks in or starting our current WIPS and struggling with various stages of organization, writers block, and actual writing, Plot Whisper gives us a really good look at why writers get stuck. Check it out and then tell me:

What’s the biggest thing that hangs you up as a writer? Is it plot or your lack thereof? Characters that refuse to behave or won’t speak to you? Your own self-criticism? Any or all of the above?


  1. Telling vs. Showing. That, I think is my biggest hang-up thus far in this wip. I've got the plot, all the holes are filled, I've got the exposition, I've got the dialogue.

    I think also, of my bigger problems is that I'm trying to write a romance with literary words and it's coming across as lame. I also have to keep telling myself it's only a first draft and it will pull itself together when I do the revisions.

    Writing is so hard.

    I'm playing a crazy game at my blog today and you're sort of involved. Sorry. I hope you get the joke. IF not, I'll explain it to you when it's all over.

  2. All of it. I am just getting out of a "stuck moment" revising. I think the characters were misbehaving and I was telling more than showing.

  3. My short attention span. I'm in the middle of chapter 2 in a manuscript I started last weekend, and although I know what's going to happen and how, I often stare off into space or go read a blog.

  4. For me, it is m own self-criticism. I'll be really happy with a part that I just revised but when I go back to read it, I get discouraged. I always think that it is horrible and wonder what in the world or who in the world told me I should and could write. I think everything I write is horrible, yet I continue to write. I need to build a bridge and get over it.

  5. Um, ditto Christi--short attention span. Like a gnat's. Also, probably, the purposeful arrangement of scenes, but that kinda goes along with the short attention span...

  6. Hmm, I think I get hung up worrying about how I'm going to solve the problems I've created, instead of letting the plot take over and worrying about fixing it during editing.

  7. I struggle with being overly subtle--wanting to withhold information too much, when it needs to be dribbled out over the course of the story. Changing that one thing has helped me TREMENDOUSLY in having content for the middle.

    Oh, and I get very stuck trying to figure out which incidents deserve page space and dramatization rather than a paragraph summary. It requires planning and I pants it a lot.

  8. Wow--excellent post and links.

    I've been in a major funk with writing over the last 6 weeks or so, to the point that I was ready to absolutely delete everything and never look back. Needless to say, I changed my mind.

    I think my main problem is just like Kelly's--my self-criticism and lack of confidence which cuts me off at the knees. I may have to join her in ther bridge building endeavors.

  9. All of the above, hands down. I feel like I have more problems than there are solutions in the world - writing-wise, anyway.

  10. At one time or another, I've been victim to all of these potential hang ups. Fortunately, most seem transient. It's only when the characters won't do what they're supposed to do and the entire arc of the story changes that I really freeze up.

    Thanks for the great links!

  11. My own self criticism, and plot. Sometimes I think my brain can not function to make an interesting plot!

    Great post!

  12. I'm very self-critical, and I worry too much about plot holes and other massive issues (that may or may not be present in my writing). So instead of pushing forward and just getting the writing done, I'm trying to diagnose and fix every little problem.

  13. I, myself, am having MAJOR plot issues right now that is driving me insane!!! It's like I've almost got it... but not just yet. Oh well, I guess I'll figure it out, eventually. : )

    PS - I have a little award for you today.


    Happy Tuesday!

  14. everything i write about is true, however, if i have a migraine.... that blocks me... because it prevents me from going back and reliving that moment in time....

    a screaming child stops me too.... ;)

  15. Plot, plot, PLOT! That, and I tend to overwrite - to drag things out unecessarily. In retrospect it's probably because I didn't have a clue where the chapter etc was going when I was writing it! It all leads to a lot of revision... sigh...

  16. For me it's the blocked communication line between my brain and my fingers on the keyboard: the words are *there*, they are pressing on the door to be let out, but the door doesn't budge.

    I think in computers it's called buffer overflow, and it's a terrifying place to be...

  17. Plot or lack thereof. I need a motivation for my characters. What are they trying to accomplish? And a villain or something to overcome. If I don't know those two things, I can't really write the story...

  18. I get hung up by passive characters and not enough conflict. le sigh.

  19. My biggest holdup is always time and energy. I have a 40+ hr per week job, and it's taxing both physically and mentally. Often I have to force myself to open up the laptop and start typing away.

    But once my fingers start flying, I slip into the story and become lost there. Plot rarely confounds me, it just unfolds as I go. I did have an issue a few weeks ago because I had too many actions happening and not enough time for them to happen in the story, but I figured that out and since then it's been smooth sailing.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment! I look forward to reading. :)

  20. I've been very distracted by home renovations for almost two months! This has been getting in the way of my creative endeavors. I'm happy to say that part is done and now I can focus. But, now, I can remember how to do that. Slowing down and sitting in one spot feels like torture.

    So, I'm working on discipline and finding my focus again. After that, I'm sure it will be something else!

    Thanks for this valuable link!

  21. like many others said,lack of focus. sometimes I just wander away...and don't feel like coming back.I think I have to have at least an hour to devote to writing, b/c it takes me 15 min. to get into the groove.

  22. I do a lot of showing, I'm a descriptive writer. I don't do dialogue very well. Practice makes perfect!

    I used to be a pantser. I'll get an idea and then jump right in without thinking about minor characters and plot details.

    To be completely honest:
    I'm also extremely lazy and when I have an idea that's going to take a lot of work, I stop when I get to that point. But part of the solution is admitting you have a problem, and I'm doing much better. I'm also dating a writing nazi.

  23. Dialogue and endings! Endings are killers for me. :-)

  24. PLOT (and coming up with a good title)!

    CONGRATS on 100 FOLLOWERS! Woot!


  25. My issue is trusting that my readers will get what I wrote. Okay, it not that I don't trust them. It's that I don't trust my writing sometimes. Does that make sense?

    And I'm easily distracted. Twitter anyone?

    Thanks for visiting my blog. :)

  26. Motivation is my biggest problem. Staying motivated, that is!

  27. Thanks for the link about writers' block.

    If I make it to chapter two, then I don't stop until I'm done. But I have a few beginnings that never took off and I have breaks in between projects.

  28. Post questions like this one have been therapy for my aching muse these last few weeks. Plot development is definitely my weak-point on this leg of my journey. Love figuring out characters...get stuck when I have to put them in scenes to strut their stuff. I think I strive for authenticity to the point of stiffling my creative drive. But I'm working it out, one paragraph at a time.

    Love your comments on my blog. Seeing your little coffee cup makes my day!

    Have a wonderful evening :)

  29. Ohh, self criticism is a big factor for me. Also, a sagging middle has me puzzled about how to move forward to the part of the plot I am most excited about, but that's okay, because I like a challenge. Really, I do. No, really. (I mean, sort of.)

  30. P-L-O-T plot...I really feel I can write well and even develop characters well...But that darn story arc! Gets me. I am stuck.

    Great question, and I like the Plot Whisperer, too.


  31. Thinking about what Amber wrote about the "sagging middle" (oh, so many meanings!)...This probably sounds dumb, but sometimes I just write around it. I'll mark my place, go to the next scene, new set of characters and go from there. Sometimes that helps me to work out that last thing.

  32. Anne, telling vs. showing is a long, slow, difficult lesson for most of us. It’s good you’ve got all the other bases covered. And yes, writing is hard. :)

    Christine, I’m glad to hear you’re getting out of your ‘stuck moment.’ Congrats!

    Christi, and Summer. Hee! I hear you on the short attention span. Oh, wait. Shiny! :)

    Kelly, yep, I totally get the self-criticism thing. It does me in all the time. We all need some exercises in bridge building.

    Portia, yeah, I’ve been there myself. There really is something to be said for ‘just write’ and ‘write your way through it’ whatever it is.

    Laurel, I like subtle but I get that there’s such a thing as too subtle. I’m glad you’ve had such success with content changing that. The muddle in the middle is so difficult to slog thorough.

    Amy, hee! I find it hard to believe your mind is ever blank.

    Eva, I know how hard it’s been for you lately. I’m glad you changed your mind about hitting delete. You can join Kelly and me building bridges.

    E. Elle, don’t worry, we’ve all been there. And it’s never as bad as you think it is. I’m sure your solutions will come.

  33. VR, you are very welcome. And you’re right. All of us fall prey to these things and usually they pass. Characters though, can do you in.

    Crystal and Shelley, self-criticism is huge. And plot seems to be a big problem for a lot of us. I wonder why that is? But it’s important to remember that if we can just push forward, most or our problems find solutions.

    Kimberly and Nym, yes, you’re right. It’s almost like vapor. You will figure it our eventually. Kim, thanks, I will. And Nym? Yes, whatever it’s called it is a terrifying place to be.

    Ashley, that’s funny. I had a migraine today that made me come home from work before lunch. They’re terrible things. And I totally get the problem with screaming kids. I teach the high school version of them.

    Talli, yay! Another vote for plot. And you’re right. Revision is key.

    Elana, yes, motivation is key and villains or problems/obstacles are good. Once that’s settled you can move on.

    Falen, conflict is key. Passive is bad. And I’m with you on the whole *le sigh* thing.

  34. B. Miller, welcome. I’m there with you about time and energy. A full time job can wreak havoc on you mentally and physically. I’m glad to hear that once you start, plot comes easily to you. It gives me hope.

    CTM, welcome. I’m glad you made it through the home renovations. Living with contractors can be more than distracting. And yay! for focusing now. Good luck working it all out.

    Tamara, it’s funny, isn’t it? How sometimes we have to work our way up to working? Lately lack of focus is plaguing me, too. And not coming back to something is very attractive.

    Hannah, yay!practice! I’m glad you’re doing better and dating a writing nazi. :)

    Shannon, dialogue is the easiest thing for me. Ending? Sometimes I just want to write ‘the end’ and be done with it no matter where I am.

    Lola, hee! Thanks. :)

    Stina, welcome. It made perfect sense. As far as distracted? Oh, shiny. Thanks for coming by. :)

    Lisa, I totally hear you on that.

  35. Theresa, you’re welcome. We all have a few of those. :)

    Nicole, I’m glad your muse is finding some therapy. You’re such a beautiful writer it’s hard to imagine anything weak. I’m glad you’re working things out. And I’m glad you’re glad to see me. I’m always glad to see you. :)

    Amber, LMAO! Well, about the challenge. Self-criticism sucks. As does the middle. :)

    Michele, thanks and welcome. Plot Whisperer is great.

    Eva, writing around the middle doesn’t sound dumb, it sounds inspired. I sometimes do that, too. :)

  36. OH AND CONGRATS ON THE 100+ followers~!! That is quite an accomplishment. :-)

  37. Right now I've noticed that writers block happens to me when I have so much information in my brain I don't know where to start! Thanks to my wonderful husband I am able to talk it through and get some real ideas out in the open so I'm able to start to write them down!

  38. Congrats on 100 followers (104 now!) I think the biggest hang ups I have are either not being able to find just the right words (can you tell I'm in the revision stage at the moment?) or not being totally clear on what I'm trying to say, so I end up rambling.

  39. Eva and Susan, thanks. :) And Susan, I have that same problem. Word choice haunts me sometimes, not only in revision, but in trying to get the words out in the first place. And I also tend to ramble, which means my inner editor is screaming at me until I do the revision. I so feel your pain. :)

    Hi, Jen. Yay! for your husband! He sounds like a great guy. It's great that he can be a sounding board for you and all of your ideas. :)

  40. Dialogue and character building seem to be my strengths; and plot is sorta secondary. I'd really like to be able to focus on plot. And, I get so caught up in writing scenes, they don't always feel like they string together well.

    This was a great link Sarah. I even read today's post on Foreshadowing vs Flashback, and find myself thinking very deeply on the concepts Martha brought up.

    A truly excellent find. Thanks for sharing it.


  41. Hi, Donna. Thanks and you're welcome. :)

    I'm totally with you there. Dialogue and character are easier for me than plot. I think you can take my characters and set them in a variety of settings and they still work with minimal rewriting and effort. I think that's a function of writing thematically.

    I'm also with you on wishing I could focus more on plot. What I've done in the past is write scenes and then see how they fall and/or string together after the fact. Those that work, fine. Those that don't get filed for future use.

    And yeah, I'll be talking about foreshadowing and flashback later. :)