I recently posted about figuring out how my writing brain works; clearly, I ignore my own advice. I’ve been stalled out lately on my longest in-progress stories, both novel-length, for a couple of weeks. In the meantime I finished the “skateboarder” novella (working title: Games. Yes, totally lame) and submitted it, which is of course a good thing.
However, instead of letting my longer works stew, and move on to writing other stories in the interim, I’m obsessing about not getting writing done on them. Which basically means I’m not writing anything. !FAIL!
My longer works need that gestation period, though; I can crank out tens of thousands of words in a month, but not on one story. Novels just take longer to knit together for me, whether I like it or not, and trying to force the writing or launch a “sneak attack” by making an outline to follow does absolutely no good whatsoever.
As I was discussing with a friend recently, knowing what you do and why you do it does not automatically translate into changing that behavior. I’ve spent so many years training myself to give up on stories that it is hard for me to accept that not working on a story means anything else. The truth is, I never gave up on a story by stopping work on it, which is a normal part of the writing process for me — a breathing space for the story, if you will.
No, instead I gave up by never going back to the story when it was time to do so.
I always had reasons (“no one will ever read it; it won’t sell; it doesn’t matter”) but those were born out of a lack of self-confidence and a very negative worldview. That’s not me anymore.
But…habits are hard to break. I must keep reminding myself that leaving a story to settle for a few weeks is part of the process, not a sign of failure. I need to allow myself to do what is natural for me, which is to move on to starting or working on other stories while the longer ones gestate, instead of reigning myself back out of a sense of obligation or fear.
The way forward is to keep moving, even if the steps are small and the path kind of crooked.