Fall is definitely in the air around here. It’s been beautiful. The days are nice and warm, sunny and beautiful, while the nights are crisp and chilly. Leaves are starting to change, brilliant reds and golds peeping out amongst the green. We’ve just harvested all the fruit from the summer. The Honeycrisp produced a half dozen apples. We have about that many pears as well. The grapes and the Aronia did really well, though, so we’ll have wine.
While I know that for many, autumn is the end of the year, for me, in many ways, it feels like the start of things. The start of the holiday season. The start of the new year.
Fall is generally when I feel as though I’m restarting. I know, I know, the first of the year is for starting off. But fall for me always is a restart as well. I know some people who ignore the celebrated New Year’s Day and instead consider Halloween to be their New Year’s.
There are still plenty of things left over to do on the property. Need to put down dirt around TH2, cover up the straw, and make sure that the base of the house is well insulated. Need to trim some of the plants. Take the last cuttings of herbs, in particular the mints, and start drying those. Mow the yard one last time.
In terms of writing, this week I felt as though I was starting over again. I stopped working on the current novel before I left for Bouchercon. Came back, and was working on a non-fiction project for a few days.
Then Blaze came down with a head cold. Of course, I caught it two days later. Then, I was stupid, pushed too hard, and so relapsed. Didn’t get back to the novel until Tuesday.
Picking up a project is always a matter of overcoming inertia.
Sometimes that’s pretty easy. Other times…not so much.
For this novel, it wasn’t that difficult. Part of the reason for that was because I spent time while I was working on the non-fiction project thinking about the novel and what I was going to do next.
For me, it’s always easier to jump back into a project if I know where I’m going.
I surprised myself, though. After I wrote past the part I knew about, it was still pretty easy to keep going.
That comes from really liking this book, from being excited about working on it. But also from looking forward to finishing it because there are other books that I really, really want to write! (SO MANY BOOKS)
How else do I restart? I go back through what I’ve been doing, getting back into character, into the tone of the book. I push the plot forward in my head.
Because of the type of novel I’m currently writing, I never write down any of those future plans. Either I remember it and write it, or I come up with something even more cool on the fly.
What happens if restarting a project is like pulling teeth? You’d rather clean and sanitize the refrigerator than write?
First of all, I spend some time checking in with myself.
Is this the right project? Most of the time, I don’t have writer’s block. I have project block.
Will switching to a new project bring me more joy? Or am I still really interested in the existing story, and I’m just frustrated about moving forward?
If moving to a new project won’t solve the issue, if I have the right project in front of me, the next thing I do is start looking back.
Chances are, if I can’t move forward it’s because I’ve screwed up something in the past. A character has made an incorrect choice, though it seemed correct at the time. If I have multiple POVs (as I do in the current novel) I need to look at each of them and make sure that not only is that section written from the correct POV, but that it starts and ends correctly.
For me, that’s been crucial. I remember one fantasy novel where I started a chapter fifteen minutes too early. I needed to start a scene with the characters already there, not on the move to get there. Once I did that, the rest of the chapter flowed.
So instead of pushing forward when you get stuck, look back. See if there’s an impediment back there that you need to remove first.
If nothing else works, I go back to my old tried and true method of writing out things by hand, to figure out what’s wrong. I don’t have to do that as often as I once did. I have a lot more novels under my belt. But every once in a while I have a project where I’ve reached such a dead end I can’t restart. Then I pull out pen and paper.
Restarting isn’t always easy. I do it so often, though.
Fall seven times. Get back up eight. And keep going.
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