Friday, January 28, 2011

Embracing 'Writer's Pause'.



Ever have those moments in writing when everything comes to a screeching halt? I call it writer's pause, and I've learned to embrace it. It is a time to allow the scene to simmer and wait for that extra spark of inspiration to pull you back into what you see visually that will enhance the scene. The other day I was working on a pivotal scene in 'Beside Two Rivers'.

Adventurous Darcy can't stay confined inside four
walls for long. She has an innate curiosity for the outdoors. And so she heads off astride her grandmother's mare across the moors in the Hope Valley.

When I realized that the scene would be a cliff-h
anger and a critical turn of events, suddenly my mind froze. For two days I mused over what I had written. I sat at my computer, staring out at the falling snow outside my window, watching the flakes float down and the layers growing on the tree branches. I began to worry. Why was I stuck?

I walked away from the book for a while and read. My mind was still on the scene. I was at a crossroads. Remember those books for kids where you could go one way or another in the story? I visualized each possibility and the effect they would have on the rest of the story. Should the antagonist come riding up? Or should Mrs. Burke, Darcy's grandmother's housekeeper, come lumbering up the hillside calling to her to return to the house? Or should Ethan chance upon her?

Suddenly my mind began to churn with images of Darcy on horseback. I saw what she would see - the green moorlands, the barren tors rising against a cloudy sky. I heard what she would hear - the whisper of the wind, and the murmur of the grass as the breeze brushes through it. Then I began to feel what she would feel. Lonely. Homesick. . .and a longing for the man she loves.
I went back to the scene and wrote the bare bones out in my notebook, then to the computer I went and the scene was enhanced tenfold. I'm glad I waited.

When you have those moments where the words are not flowing, be patient. As a writer friend told me when I shared with her what was happening, 'continue to stare....something BIG is about to break!'
But do not neglect your muse. Dwell on the scene. Listen to inspiring music and read or watch a movie in your genre.

If you are not a writer, but you read, next time you sit down and open a novel think of the work that the author put into writing it. It took months to write, perhaps a year. They went through moments where they froze, moments of intense creativity, moments of despair wonder if it was good enough, and lonely moments too. Writing is hard work. But we do it because we love it and we love our readers and want to please them.


5 comments:

Svea ~Muse in the Fog said...

Thank you for the wonderful advice! Times like these are frustrating, but when those moments are washed away by an epiphany of ideas, it all seems worth it. I will just take this new view point and put it to good use.

Rita Gerlach said...

Svea, thanks for the comments. I'm glad that my post helped in some way. I visited your blog and it is great...one of the best for historical fiction that I've seen.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rita -

I've had those moments, and they scared me. Thanks for shedding light on "writer's pause."

Blessings,
Susan :)

Bonnie Toews said...

Would you believe I still have a dead body and I haven't a clue who killed him, only how he was killed? I had to pull him out of my first chapter and rewrite the first 70 pages. I hope my muse relieves my supense soon. I've now got a deadline for this novel to meet.

April said...

What a great post. We all have those moments at one time or another.I am so waiting for your next book to hit the shelves.
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