Some people say it doesn't exist. It's like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster or Sarah Palin's brain*: lots of anecdotal evidence that it's there, but nothing that holds up under scrutiny.
Well, folks, it's real. It comes in different forms for different writers. For me, it's a combination of not being able to write anything, not wanting to write anything, and writing something that is so utterly valueless and shoddy that it hopes one day to be crap.
I've been struggling, is what I'm trying to convey. I have a lot of false starts in my writing folder. Some of these false starts represent months of work, while others represent mere weeks. Still, looking at these stillborn dreams is disheartening.
I have a few writing techniques I have learned over the years, but I ran across a new one the other day (from the Cracked website, of all places) that intrigued me.
An old trick I picked up a long time ago involves writing sessions. When writing a novel, there is simply no way to complete the whole thing in one sitting, so there will be times when a writer needs to stop. This could be for purely mundane reasons--eating, sleeping, going to work, emerging from the writing office to reintroduce yourself to the family--or for creative ones. The question is, when to stop? Common sense would seem to indicate that the time to stop is when one is stuck. Go away and do something else, and the solution will present itself when you're not looking.
That doesn't work for me.
What works a lot better is stopping when I am rolling. I have mentioned this before on this site, but I bring it up here to refer to the new technique I have not yet revealed. If one is to stop when one is rolling, that still begs the question, how the everlasting hell do I get rolling in the first place?
That's the new technique I have learned.
Quite simply, the new technique is to write the last scene of the novel first. Not a flashforward or somesuch literary trick--actually write the last few pages. Now, it's always been a good idea to have one's ending firmly in mind (one writer described his process as "throw the last line as far away from you as you can, then walk to it") but I never tried the idea of writing, word-for-word, the ending.
I just finished a session where the words flowed easily and effortlessly from my fingers. True to form, I stopped when I was in mid-flight, and am looking eagerly forward to seeing how I will get my main character to this place I've already written.
Just goes to show--an old dog like me can learn something new.
Be seeing you!
*an admittedly cheap shot. I am duly chagrined.