Friday, May 4, 2012

What putting Noisemaker on hold has taught me about writing

Some writing days felt like this.
So, it's been a hard writing time lately.  For several reasons, not the least of which is my own inconsistency and procrastination.  But more than that, I've just been having a hard time making writing work.  There's been more than a few days where I've groaned and struggled and spent entire afternoons where I end up with nothing to show for it.   There's been a few days where I've nearly cried.  "Why won't this story just WORK?!"

Most of this stress came from a recent project called Noisemaker.  I loved the theme behind it.  It's based on something I'm passionate about and I delved right into plotting, creating characters, and developing the theme.  The story changed its form at least a dozen times over the course of March.  But as time went on, I was having a harder and harder time actually writing it. I could write lots about it, but the actual words on paper- the actual story- wasn't working.   It had me nearly pulling out my hair with the fact that I couldn't pin a plot down.  It had a setting and it had a theme, but connecting the plot and characters to it was the challenge.  With such a big theme, I could write reams of essays about it but as a story the hugeness of it was stumping me.

The theme behind Noisemaker was so big that fitting it into a plot was time consuming and draining.  And by draining, I mean mentally and spiritually draining.  It was a lot of plot problems and a lot of frustration.

The stress of the project was just compounded by the fact that I need to have a full novel draft ready by the end of June for a writing workshop I am going to attend.  I got to the point of despairing if I would ever even nail down a loose outline, never mind write Chapter One or "The end."

Eventually I had to realize that this project was too big.  At least for now.  It was too new, too massive in proportion.  It needed time to sit and ripen and develop in my mind.  It wasn't ready to come onto paper.  Maybe it would be soon, but forcing it before I was capable of writing it wasn't going to be good for me or the story. 

I don't mean that there isn't a time to force your way through a story.  I know that just because a story is hard doesn't mean that it's not ready.  I'm not advocating giving up when the going gets tough!  But in this case, Noisemaker was so consistently difficult and between my own stress and the helpful counsel of my mom we determined that it just wasn't the right time yet.

Now I'm working on a novel of a very different kind.  It's a novel idea that started when I was about 12.  I've written countless notes, character sketches, chapter outlines, and theme notes.  It's a much better developed story in my mind.  It's had plenty of time to ripen.  Ultimately, it's ready to become a full fledged novel.  It'll still be hard.  That's what writing is- not all sunshine and words flying onto the page.  But this story is one I feel much better equipped and ready to write.

Noisemaker is on the shelf presently. And it's a good thing, because now I'm writing a story that IS ready to be written.  This process has been a valuable one, as I've realized that I can't white knuckle writing.  Sometimes stories need to sit. Sometimes an idea is good- but not quite yet. 

1 comment:

  1. Totally get what you mean. I fought with a book, characters, and a theme I love for two years. I finally set it aside when I realized that the story goal was all wrong for my main character (who happened to be third character to BE the main character...yeah, it had issues).

    Strangely, within a few weeks of finally going "okay, putting this down." _Quintessence_ leapt into my head and poured out in record time. It only happened because of other story attempts that were years old, though!

    Best of luck on your new endeavor!