Like most everyone else, I spent a bit of time at the beginning of the year writing resolutions, and this year, one of them was/is to be more mindful of my writing work, and that includes noticing how I feel when I write. Maybe that sounds a bit strange, but...I get stuck. A lot. Painfully stuck, and once stuck, it’s really hard for me to get unstuck, because sometimes I don’t even know I’m stuck. I just keep trying to do what I’m doing, and as a result, get nowhere fast.
So: goal one: admit the stucked-ness.
Because what I do know is that when I get writing-stuck, there’s a reason for it, and that leaves me with a couple of choices. I can doggedly continue what I’m doing, or I can take a step back, suss out the situation, and then decide whether to forge ahead or change course.
That sounded easy enough when it was an intellectual exercise, but last night, I had to put it into play. I’ve been working on a story that’s very dear to my heart. I wrote the first draft of it about a year ago and then let it sit for a while, because that’s what I do, and recently decided it was time to get it into submission-shape. Thus beg
an paring and peeling away all the dirty bits as I tried to turn it into something shiny and beautiful.
It’s been hard going. Really, really hard going, and last night, I realized I was stuck. I didn’t know how to go forward, and the essence of the story, what made it what it was, was getting lost as I tried to shoehorn it into something it wasn’t.
And so, there I was: stuck in stucked-ness and faced with a choice. I could keep on doing what I was doing. Or, I could change directions. I decided to feel each option out, and, low and behold, one of them felt right: change direction. I can always come back to the place where I got stuck if I need to (what did we do in the days before we could save multiple drafts of our work?), but, staying stuck doesn’t get me anywhere except more stuck, and that’s not any fun at all.
So, off I go in a different direction, one that feels truer to the story already. Who knows where it will go from here, but so far, this mindful thing is paying off!
Catherine Knutsson is the author of SHADOWS CAST BY STARS, to be published June 2012 by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster. She lives on Vancouver Island and divides her time between writing, riding horses, and wandering the wilds. To learn more, visit her at www.catherineknutsson.com