What’s YOUR Biggest Writing Problem Today?

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Today, I want to listen to you. I have on my big listening ears!
What is the biggest problem you are having with your current work-in-progress?
Please describe it in the comments below.

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16 Comments
  • Mina Witteman
    November 13, 2013

    My biggest writing problem is to not have my day fragmented by the pull of Facebook, Twitter, and the likes. I know agents and editors need for us authors to ‘get out there’ and create a social media presence, but it interferes with my writing process and it halts my thinking. It blocks the flow of storytelling and writing.
    Authors, often working alone at their desks for days if not weeks in a row, are such an easy prey for the vulturous lure of attention. It plucks my stick-to-it-iveness to shreds on a daily basis and I’m still searching for the remedy, that one thing that will keep the vultures off my scent.

    -Mina

  • Leslie Miller
    November 13, 2013

    Thanks for asking. I’m in a workshop where we are supposed to get the first draft of a novel done in two weeks! I love my beginning . . . love my ending, which I’ve already written, but I can’t quite figure out my middle.

    Usually, I let my stories unfold more organically. I wonder if the pressure to push it out in two weeks is blocking me.

  • Darcy Pattison
    November 13, 2013

    Mina:
    I think it’s a natural problem! Writers of the 1800s talk about spending half a day in correspondence with other writers, editors, friends, family and fans. It’s always been a time drain to stay connected to the world. Recognizing that, is important to put it in perspective.

    Beyond that, have you tried some of the programs that help you manage social media, such as HootSuite?
    And, why not have certain days when you do NO social media, but just write. And certain days, when you’re open to it all day long? Set up a rhythm that works for you.

    Glad you connected here today, though!
    Keep going!
    Darcy

  • Darcy Pattison
    November 13, 2013

    Leslie:
    Some people work well under pressure and others don’t. That said, I usually find there’s something in the story itself that is blocking me.
    If you can find that tension point and go back to it–undo it. If you sent your characters out for pizza and everything after that feels forced, then go back and delete the pizza scene and see what should come next. In other words, often there is a branching point for action and I’ve taken the wrong branch. I try to locate that point and take a different branch.

    Otherwise, have you tried some of the plot templates such as Hero’s Journey?
    The messy middle is sure messy when you’re in the middle of it! Recognizing the stage you’re at always helps!
    Darcy

  • Cindy Lynn Jacobs
    November 13, 2013

    Procrastination.

    I procrastinate writing because my work seems a bit disorganized. I put off organizing because it seems overwhelming to get it together and I feel I need a good chunk of time to do this.

    And sometimes I just procrastinate because I have procrastinated and getting back into character and in story mode seems like such a chore.

    In the past I know that it just takes that one deep breath and determination to immerse myself to get me motivated. But I procrastinate on taking that deep breath ….

    Maybe that’s not procrastination. Maybe it’s laziness. I am doomed. Or maybe therapy will help …

  • Lisa D.
    November 13, 2013

    First of all, what a cutie wearing ‘listening ears!’

    Then I would have to say: my greatest frustration is crafting sentences that ‘sing’ on the page the way they do in my head.

    ;(

  • Darcy Pattison
    November 13, 2013

    Ah, singing sentences! Yes!
    One of the best things I ever did was go through the book called THE ART OF STYLING SENTENCES: 20 Sentence Patterns for Success.
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Styling-Sentences-Patterns/dp/0812014480

    It’s out of print, but available in used bookstores online.
    It taught me SO much about sentences and how to make them sing.

    I also love Ursula LeGuin’s book on craft: Steering the Craft. One of her challenges is to write a very, very long sentence, and she quotes one from HUCK FINN that is 250 words long! Wow!

    Great stuff!
    Darcy

  • Darcy Pattison
    November 13, 2013

    Cindy:
    Procrastinating about procrastinating is BAD! : )
    Have you tried something like “morning pages,” just some kind of writing to get you going each morning.
    For a while, I did 750words.com as a way to keep on track.

    You know what they say? the BITC (Butt in the Chair) is the only way to get it done!
    Not doomed! But you do have to solve this!

    Darcy

  • Lisa K
    November 13, 2013

    The biggest problem I am having today (besides trying to write with a nasty head cold,) is with the main characters in this year’s NaNoWriMo project.

    The characters are two women who live in different places and in different historical time frames and share a common interest which ties them together, but I’m not certain that each of them comes through on the computer screen as a separate and distinct individual. I’m worried that their personalities are too similar.

  • Darcy Pattison
    November 13, 2013

    Lisa K:
    Two female characters–sounds like an interesting premise.
    Does each have a POV chapter?
    Can you analyze the character qualities and compare?
    Maybe do a free write about the back story of each to help find out more about them?

    For this–it’s just a matter of keep working, and keep evaluating as you go, and tweaking. You’ll know when it’s right!
    Darcy

  • Lisa K
    November 13, 2013

    Thank you very much!

  • Heather Marsten
    November 14, 2013

    Love the listening ears. I think we should all wear them. It is far easier to talk sometimes than to listen and listening is so important.

    With my first-person memoir, I’m editing. Each time I go over the pages I’m learning more how to write it well. My struggles come from showing my emotions in first person (yes I wipe sweaty palms, twist ends of kleenex, etc) to show angst and fear. But describing myself and the situation when I am a young child was difficult for I had limited understanding at seven, and couldn’t reveal the full impact until I was older. The other thing is how much scene description can one do in first person to give a real feel for a scene. BTW editing is way harder than writing first draft. I am having to cut so many scenes. Thanks for listening :)

  • Darcy Pattison
    November 14, 2013

    Heather:
    It sounds like you have a good handle on the task ahead for your memoir. First person POV is indeed hard and writing about a younger self is hard, too.
    Personally, I like the editing better than the first draft! And even if it’s not your favorite part, I LOVE that you say, “. . .I”m learning more how to write it well.”

    Darcy

  • Daniel Pery
    November 17, 2013

    My biggest writing problem is my inability to continue stories. I always have such a great start, and really enjoy myself. That is, until I reach the point where I have to stop and think. I get these good ideas, but they have nothing to do with each other, and I just end up having dozens of stories that I started but never finished. Even when I try to put all of my effort into it, I think I succeed, but then after a week or so of intese writing, I stop. Once I stop, I just can’t continue. I would appreciate help, but I mainly just needed to write that so I can face it. Thanks for reading this.

  • Darcy Pattison
    November 18, 2013

    Daniel:
    Yes, just admitting the problem can help. Can you pinpoint WHY you stop? You say it’s because you get to a point where “you have to think.” Does that mean plotting is hard? Or is it character development? If you can push a bit farther and define the problem more specifically, you can find lots of help.

    Darcy

  • Daniel Pery
    November 18, 2013

    I think I stop because when I reach a certain level of character development, I have all these great ideas, and I either can’t find a way to write them, or I’m scared they’re going to be forgetten about. Also, I have a problem with writing a sort of timeline to the book. People say you should plan what you write before you write it, but I usually don’t. I just let my ideas express themselves, and I don’t really think in a long term way.