by Lindsey Gray
I have an idea. That idea breeds characters and a storyline. I sit down and sift through notes written on scraps of paper or typed into the notepad of my cell phone. Then I sit down at my computer and things start to flow. Then suddenly it hits. That brick wall that everybody talks about but you never think will ever happen to you. Writer's block. My latest novel, “Redemption”, had me banging my head so hard that I actually shelved it for almost two years before coming back to it.
I had always been a linear writer. I would write chapters in order, not wavering from the formula. But when you have over half a manuscript written, a solid ending, and an unusable outline, how in the hell do you get over the hump?
In those two years that “Redemption” sat unchanged on my hard drive, I had time to think. I also had time to write. I thought changing genres might help, so I switched from the supernatural/sci-fi realm to a romantic drama entitled “Lies Inside”. Through writing and editing that novel, I was challenged and brought to my creative brink. I stepped out of the box I had formed for myself and was brought to an entirely new style of writing.
When director's film a movie, hardly any of the scenes are shot in the sequence they will be seen in the final version. Since I always see what I write as a movie in my head, I stopped thinking about the scattered scenes and sat down to write them. I wrote the final scene then worked my way backward until I could connect the dots into the final work. This was a technique that I was surprised to hear is very common. I've even heard of a technique for doing an outline of sorts where you work from both ends and meet in the middle. You number a paper from 1 to 20. On the 1st line you write your opening. Then go to the 20th line and write your closing. Then go to the 2nd line and write what happens after the 1st. Then go to the 19th and write what happens before the 20th and so on and so forth. It can be a fun exercise for those people like me who have such scattered thoughts and have holes in the middle that need to be filled.
So the original outline got scrapped and the characters took on a new life. Now looking back on those long two years, I think of that block as a happy accident. I was able to evolve the story and create something even better than I ever could have expected. It sparked further ideas and got me writing the next in the series, “Revisited”. Scattered scenes now have their place on my hard drive just waiting to be copied and pasted into the final product. When the moment comes, don't wait, type it up and see where it takes you. It could be the greatest thing you've ever written.
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