Sunday, December 11, 2011

Unclogging the mental log jam

Right now, I'm writing a series I call The Cuckoo series. I'm on book three of four. No, I haven't sold it yet. I'm working on that.

Writing this series has been like pulling teeth. I think it's very good, but the plot has been fighting me like a rabid weasel. I had to put book one aside for six months until I figured out what to do with one of the plot points (the answer was toss it out and do something different).

Book two went quite easily, but book three turned into another slog at about the 85,000 word point. The other two are about 100,000, which left me with 15,000 words to decide what to do with this one jackass of a character that I needed to resolve before book four starts. I've been stuck at this point for about a month now and I've been dreading the thought that I was going to end up with another six months or more of writer's block on it. Or worse, that the whole thing would die on me.

This last week, I've been in Toronto for professional development with my coworkers. It was a good time. One of the seminars we attended, however, turned out to be a lot more relevant than I'd thought it would be. It was a seminar on creative thinking offered by the Fred Pryor Institute and taught by a woman named Glynis Devine, who was an awesome instructor. She taught us different ways of looking at a problem and finding a solution.

One of the techniques she taught us was to take a problem you're stuck on a solution for, like say a stalled plot line, and write down whatever you do know about it. The information you have, that is. Then write down what resolution you want. You do this right before your nightly ablutions, and then you go to bed. You literally sleep on it.

I forgot to do this the first night, but I did try it on the second. I know how I need the book to end, after all. I just hadn't figured out how to get there. That's normal for how I write. I know the beginning, I know the end, and I sort of discover the middle when I write.

At any rate, my phone died during the night, and I found out I'd slept in when my boss knocked on my hotel room door. This was our checkout day, so I had to frantically run around packing and trying to wake up and didn't think at all about my little experiment. Not until I was sitting in the car on the way back, reading a book on my kindle, and bemoaning the lack of coffee.

The plot for the book just dropped into my lap. Suddenly, I thought of something I hadn't considered before and the entire remainder of the book just came together. It was fantastic. I hauled out my Mac Air and typed on it until the battery died (forgot to charge it the night before too) and then I wrote in a notebook. Since I've been home, I've written 4000 words and it's flowing out of me as easily as anything else I've ever written, and it feels good.

My long, rambling point is, I highly recommend this as a technique to clear out a mental log jam. I know I'm certainly going to use it in future.  Thank you, Glynis.


  1. That is great, I am happy for you, and I hope you sell it soon.

  2. Thanks. I hope I do too. Mind you, I still have book 4 to write.

  3. Wow. I, too, am stuck on plot for book #2 of my series, so I am actually excited to sit down and try this. THANX so much for the technique! Really! I hope I get a 4000k word flow! :)