When You Hit a Wall

6:00 AM

Two weeks ago, camp nano began. While everyone around me was getting pumped for it, I was blocked from day one. I couldn't write. I had some big changes to make, but nothing wanted to come out.

I hit a huge wall. And it was not fun.



I think post-inciting incident is my sweet spot for disaster. The day nano started, I sat down at the keyboard and stared at the letters, at the waiting word document full of words that needed editing.

And I couldn't write a thing.

Three days in, I had a little over 1k.

That's not normal for me. I usually write quickly.

I was forced to admit the sad truth that I'd naively hoped wouldn't prove to be with my precious new baby, The Dream Walkers. It had been so nice to me so far.

But no. I'd hit a wall.

What to do? I've set a goal of 40k words to edit (now at 35k, possibly going down to 30k). I want to finish this draft before June. And, above all, I do NOT want to have another "TC" disaster. I will not spend a year on this draft. I can't. Not again.

I needed to break this wall. I needed to get a huge hammer and smash into it with all the power of a steam train. But how?

The first step was figuring out why I'd hit the wall. You can't really break something until you understand how it's built.

There are two main elements to what created my wall.


PROBLEM 1: FEAR

This book had been so good so far. But as nano started, so did all the major changes I had planned. And so the fear came. Fear of change. Fear I might mess everything up. Fear I wouldn't do it right.

On top of all that, I'm sending this draft to betas. Therefore, draft two must be perfect.

Right?

WRONG.

What do you think betas are there for? I know it can't be perfect yet, but that's the thing that was not allowing me to write at all. I needed to throw the words out. To force them onto the page.

And you can't do that and keep the quality high. You have to get in the dirt and heave.


PROBLEM 2:  AN UNCLEAR DESTINATION 

Yes, I had some big changes to make. But I also had some brainstorming to do. There was world building I hadn't done (I know, shocking) and some character motives and secrets I needed to nail down. I got my notebook and began the brainstorming, and when I got home that evening, the words began to come better than they had all month.

I knew what changes I needed to make, but I wasn't really sure how to make them. I didn't really know where I was going, and I was left wandering about and gazing at the clouds.


So from these two points, I think we can guess how to fight the block.


SOLUTION 1: KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING

Get your journal. Open the doc. Grab the restaurant napkin and pen. Whatever spurs your creative juices. Grab it and get to work. Be creative. Write down everything that comes to your mind. You'll find something. I know you will. I believe in you.


SOLUTION 2: BE BOLD, DARING, AND BRAVE.

*glances at betas* Yes. Yes I did just do that.

A good book can only become great after a lot of work. It's not going to happen in just a few days and two drafts. It takes more than that. It takes trying new things and ideas and failing a little. It means scrapping things that don't work and trying things to see what does.

And that requires a little bit of boldness. A dash of daring. And a whole lot of bravery. You have to remember that there is no "failing". There are just things that won't work and things that will. You can always try again. The important thing is to decide on something, and go for it with all you've got.

Please, please, don't be afraid to write new things. To make changes. Some part of you wanted to make those changes in the first place. Likelihood is, it's going to make your book better.


SOLUTION 3: PUSH THROUGH IT

And if all else fails, you just have to do it. You might have to lower your target goal or make some changes to what you'd wanted to get done, and that's okay. Give yourself some grace. Writing is hard, and editing is even harder. It's okay if you're not as fast as you'd like to be.

Just take a deep breath and let it go. In this moment, you are right where you need to be.


I hoped this might have encouraged some of you struggling to get the words down!

AND HERE'S A SNIPPET FOR YOU. It's small, don't worry ;P But I just have to let you in on my little reference I made up there. This becomes a theme throughout the book. It was totally pantsed in first draft, but I've kept it and it's become and integral part to pretty much all the characters. *snuggles my children*

*happy sigh* my little children

And now off you go! Go break the block!


How has nano been so far for you? Have you fared better than I have, or are you struggling with a block too? 

<3

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10 comments

  1. Aww, I'm so sorry you hit a wall! Walls are never, ever fun. *hugs* YOU CAN DO THIS. WE ARE CHEERING YOU ON. But I just want to let you know that your writing (what I've seen of it) is amazing and fabulous. <3

    A wall I've been struggling with throughout my current novel (the 1st draft) is the pacing, because the story is moving along super slow. I try not to think about it, because then thoughts of the awful pacing lead my mind down to everything else that is wrong with the story. :P So I'm trying not to do that.

    You can do this, Hannah! *coffee party* I loved all the tips you pointed out here. And even if your draft takes longer than expected, we will always be here to cheer you on!

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    1. YASSS COFFEE PARTYYYY *dances* Thank you so much <3 UGH I'm so sorry about your pacing issues. Try to keep in mind that you can edit it! And you'll make lots of break-throughs and discover stuff that will make your story so much stronger. I have faith in you!

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  2. Saaaame! I was like OH YEAH 80K THIS MONTH.
    Haha no.
    So now I am setting it aside agaaaain which is sad, but needed.

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    1. EEEEHEHE that was my mistake last year XP Since I did NaNoWriMo really fast, I thought editing would be the same speed.

      I thought wrong -.-

      Are you setting aside the whole project?? Are you still doing camp nano at all, or are you taking a break? *hugs*

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  3. I hate hitting walls! I'm so sorry that you hit one, but am super glad that you're beginning to push through it. I've hit my fair share, and for me, I have to decide which ones are worth breaking through. We'll get there in the end, won't we? :) Also, that snippet is precious. I love the characters already. <3

    By the way, if you're looking for betas for the Dream Walkers, I'd love to read it! From everything you've shared it sounds like an awesome novel. <3 Best of luck with the second draft!

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    1. Aww, thank you so so much! I'm hoping to ask for betas later this year and start querying in 2018. The plans are very tentative though! But that's my goal :D I'll be sure to drop by and let you know when I have a sign up if you miss it ;) And YAY TO PUSHING THROUGH WALLS! *high fives* Good point about deciding which ones need pushing through, too. Often times, we just need to cut something entirely. I've done that several times already with unnecessary scenes XP

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  4. Great post, Hannah! :) I'm currently editing too. My goal for Camp NaNo is 10k and I only need about 750 more. But the first half I was writing part of a first draft of another book. Now I've switched to editing a book that I would like to give to my alpha readers by June.

    Thank you for this post. I hope Camp NaNo goes well for you! :)

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    1. Ahhh girl, you got this! *high fives* And YAY for alpha readers!!! :D

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  5. I'm not blocked, exactly; I have events that I'm trying to work toward, but I think I might be subconsciously putting off getting there! At least, I blather on and struggle get to the point... when I'm actually even writing. Because I know that when I get to the event-things, I'll stress about doing it RIGHT (and not NaNo-right, either, because while other people can do that, I am a horribly perfectionist little dragon who hates typos and waffle and all the gunk). So I'm not writing because I don't want to write it wrong. Which... doesn't make sense anyway. (Wow. This was enlightening. xD)

    Thanks, Hannah! And you'll push through your wall, I'm sure! ;)

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    1. Yay! You totally got this *fist bumps* I get that though. I had to halt sending stuff to my betas cause I just couldn't edit hardcore like I wanted to and keep sending it off in nano-mess XP

      Best of luck to you! You got this!

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