Have You Got Trouble?

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.”
Joseph Heller

Found this quote today. I nodded. Feels true– some days more than others. Okay, so writing doesn’t always feel like you’re being dragged through a knothole backwards. Sometimes the words flow smoothly and ideas jump onto the page, but there are times when you come upon those brick walls. Ouch! Those brick walls kind of hurt.

Last year I hit a brick wall. I was working on a new young adult novel. Things got off to a great start and I was totally into the story. Then one day I looked at what I was writing and became quite bored by it all. I couldn’t even be sure if what I’d written was complete drivel or not.

Sometimes boredom strikes me quite suddenly when I’m working on a story. It’s as if I can’t muster up the enthusiasm to keep going. Maybe I don’t know my characters well enough, maybe the plot feels stale, or maybe it’s just me being cranky and hard to get along with. Doubt starts drifting in. Is there any point in continuing? Does my writing suck? Are my characters one-dimensional? At that point I either decide to give myself a break from the story or else trudge on through.

Not every idea pans out but we can we give up too easily. You know, when the going gets tough…. And it’s likely to get tough at some point. It if doesn’t then you’re one lucky writer.

Sometimes we make it a bit too easy to back away from challenges. We don’t want to do what it takes to see our story through to the end. We abandon it, sometimes forever.

Luckily, the little break I took last year from my novel was exactly what I needed. Did I stop writing during that time? Not at all. I’ve got plenty of stories on the go, ones I like to work on in between times, and if all else fails I have some work that can use revising.

Sometimes taking a bit of a break is the right thing to do. We return to that stale piece of fiction with renewed enthusiasm.

A few months later, I returned to my WIP. I looked at what I’d previously written and decided I wanted to continue with it. I really liked my main character. I just had a lot of hard work ahead of me. Mind you, it still took some time for me to decide just how I was going to tell that story. I had to try different things to see which ones worked and which ones didn’t. Even after the story was written I couldn’t decide it the POV was just right.

Did I have trouble writing it? Oh yeah. I’m happy to say that I finally made it through to the end. Not only did I make it through to the end, I made it through with that same enthusiasm I had when I first started. Yay me!

Do you agree with Joseph Heller that every writer has trouble writing? What do you do when you’re experiencing trouble writing, do you trudge though your first draft or do you take a break?

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