Saturday, 23 March 2013

Helping Hands and Roadblocks

Some time at the beginning of this year, I discovered Brandon Sanderson's Youtube lectures from his creative writing class and became hooked on them.

There are over a hundred videos averaging at ten minutes each. For someone like myself, who has had any creative writing training/coaching, it has been an absolute boon.

It made me so happy listening to it that I used to let it play as I went to sleep. I was doing an Emergency Department placement at the time, so my sleep and other activities affected by circadian rhythms were thoroughly messed up. But the contentment I felt watching these lectures, helped me settle. I went to sleep with a smile on my face, hoping I would still be able to learn during sleep or through some sort of osmosis.

I discovered from them that I am what is called a 'Discovery' writer or a 'Gardener'. That helped me understand why I always had a huge block whenever I tried to step back from the keyboard and brainstorm and outline first, before writing a scene. I spent hours string blankly a white page, doodling on the sides and drinking cups of tea, while eating cookies. All of this very stressful. Whenever, I ditched this, and just let go on to the keyboard, then my story formed and I had series of 'Aha' moments.

However, it is a tricky situation to be in. As I said in my previous post, I have written about 50,000 of my WIP. The problem with being a Discovery writer, is that I have only now, begun to see how I can take it to a logical conclusion. The problem is though, now that I have seen the light at the end of the tunnel, so many of what I have written up until now, do not fit with that. Herein, lies the dilemma.

Do I go back and change what i have written to fit my new path-to-a-logical-conclusion; or do I try to come up with a new ending?

The first option will see me re-writing scenes and characters that I have come to love and may even change the whole feel of the story that I was trying to convey. The second one, might see me stuck in writer's block hell for the next few weeks or months eroding, the joy of the place I am in right now and crippling my ability to write.

It is a tough decision. Brandon has a cure for this, where first-time writers are concerned: Ditch it! He says that writing for the first timer should be about producing work, and as much work as possible. The reason for this is practice; which as we all know make perfect. But it also frees you from that millstone around your neck, helping you flex your creative muscles in a different direction.

As you can see, I have really been paying attention; and I agree with what he says. But I have grown so attached to this story. It is the first that I have stuck with for any respectable amount of time, which for a commitment-phobe like myself is an achievement in itself. If I am forced to abandon this story, I will probably go into mourning. I will probably convince myself that writing is not for me, which is the reason why I couldn't follow it to a satisfactory end. Then I'd decide to focus on my training, forget everything else and be the most fantastic GP I can be while enjoying other non-aggravating pastimes such as jewellery making.

How do I know this? Well over the last two years, I have done just that (including the jewellery making). I decided a few times to abandon my story for a couple of reasons. One was: lack of time and energy. Training was too difficult, I had to study after work, until I fell asleep, there was just no space in my life fore it. Second reason was: huge, months-long bouts of writer's block, related to the aforementioned 'missing/unknown' conclusion. whenever i manged to steal a few guilt-free hours, I often spent it wondering what on earth I was writing towards and the conclusion always seemed farther away each chapter I wrote.

But I keep coming back to it. I think it's love. The thing is, though, love can sometimes be bad for you. Love can be all-consuming. Sometimes you have to take a deliberate break from the object of your affection in order to start to see things clearly and for your life to come into focus.

My solution? I will keep my mind open for new ideas. When I come across one, I will endeavor to grab a hold of it and see where it leads me. Then, I might just be willing to pull out that drawer and lay this current WIP down for a nice, long nap.


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