Lately I have been struggling with what to write. Eleven years ago I came up with a story for a novel and in the 10 years after that, I wrote it all down in Dutch. Then I realised I wasn’t happy with it. After I had determined that I was unhappy with the book I stopped to consider the project and decided that the story, the major plot, wasn’t half bad and I wanted to give it another go. So I stripped down the plot to its bare essentials, crafted new characters, a new structure and new voices and started again, in English. Taking Camp NaNo as an incentive, I wrote 20k words on ‘Six‘. And then I realised it was still bothering me. Still not right.
And that is very frustrating. It’s a kind of writer’s block, I suppose. Being me, I simply spent my time on other projects for the next month. Creating the first chapter of an educational method, starting a short story in Dutch, creating a couple of art works, writing for this blog, and then of course the 3 days working in a museum and the other 2 days working for my Etsy shop (now sadly closed). But the writing urge kept nagging me. Even if I have no time to write (as my still very short story proves), I want to have a plot ready for when I find the time again. I like having good ideas waiting for me. I have at least 4 ideas for art works and 2 for films, so where are my writing ideas?
After about a week of even more frustration, I found my way of getting out of writer’s block. First I tried making a list of all the things that were bothering me about Six. But that was too hard to determine. So then I made a list of things I liked about it. And another list with things I like about The Grand Asylum. And that suddenly gave me a whole new perspective. I found that there are several aspects to a story that need to be ‘right’ somehow:
- The genre. Fantasy and sci-fi isn’t me. But a post-apocalyptic story is me, even if dystopias aren’t particularly popular with agents at the moment. Also, I really like magical realism.
- Depth. I have a very strong urge to add some kind of depth to my stories. I don’t want to write a simple, one-dimensional story. I like layers. I like different worlds. I like magical realism even more.
- The character(s). I had 3 main characters in Six. I found that I care nothing about 2 of them. The third, however, I have grown to love very much: Zoe.
- The themes. Again, depth seems to be the key. My stories (and thus themes) are young adult, I can’t help it. I think that is because I am still a YA in my mind (I am 14 and 64 years old). But I don’t want to write chick lit YA (even though I read it). Romance is fine, but it needs to have some kind of depth.
- Perspective & voice. They need to match and they need to ‘work’, whatever that means. 😉
So, that is a lot of factors that need to be right! Somehow I got them all right in The Grand Asylum, and without effort, too. I am not so lucky this time, and so I struggle and learn. 🙂 The most important thing I learnt from my list above is that I don’t want to abandon Zoe. She is so entirely different from myself, yet so intriguing. I want to know more about her and so I will now create a story especially for her. And that is my next challenge, which no doubt will bring a lot more frustration (and blog posts about that frustration) before I complete it!
So, have you ever had to deal with this kind of frustration or writer’s block? I’d love to hear your story!