Writing a book part 37 - writers block and under-planning

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Having boasted about how much progress I made last month, the last few weeks have been painfully slow. Some mornings, I have sat with my document open, either staring at the space that needs to be filled or aimlessly scrolling back through the rest of the book or distracting myself with social media and BBC news stories. Just like a real writer.

This seems very much like writer’s block: I have literally no idea what to write. Every sentence I start gets deleted. Nothing seems to fit properly. I have no idea what should happen.

This last point is telling. I’m at a stage of the novel, about two-thirds through, which involves an new scenario for the plot. The setting is a visit to Bordeaux, culminating in a special lunch where a discovery is made that sets up the rest of the story. It also involves the first consummated encounter between the two main characters.

This was a new edition to the story when I realised it needed to follow a more conventional romantic narrative, and needed to be longer too. I thought at the time that it would be easy to insert this into the existing writing.

In reality, the planning hasn’t been anywhere near thorough enough. I have realised that my timelines don’t quite make sense, and that simply deciding that the characters should go to Bordeaux creates loads of questions that need answering as I write. Ideally, I would know exactly what happens, when and where. Because I don’t, I’m getting writer’s block.

Even so, I have managed to make some progress by forcing myself to persevere. The writing may not be very good, but it is definitely better than nothing, and is bound to need rewriting later anyway. Sometimes it can be surprising how much you can create even when it feels painfully abortive. And my determination to finish the book is still very much intact.

This week I’m in France for work, which includes a free day at a hotel next weekend. My intention is to write as much as possible on this day. So tune in next month to find out how badly that went.