LIAN TANNER

Getting stuck. Again.

January 23rd, 2016

Starting a new series is hellish. No, hang on, that’s not quite right. Starting a new series is exciting – and hellish. There are too many possibilities, that’s the trouble, and for every decision I make, something is both gained and lost. And the lost bits sit on the pages of my notebook gazing up at me like a heartbroken puppy and saying, ‘Are you sure you don’t want me? Really?’

But these decisions have to be made. And sometimes they’re the wrong ones …

I got stuck last week. Horribly impossibly stuck. I’d sit down to write and creak out about five words – then start to doubt them. Aaaaargh! Such a horrible state of mind. I remember it from when I started the Hidden series – the agony of it, the stumbling around for the real story, the uncertainty, the stuckness. I’m beginning to think it’s a necessary part of starting a new series.

Anyway, last week I got to the point where I just stopped trying and gave myself the rest of the week off. Which was clearly the right thing to do, because yesterday morning new ideas started to sidle into my mind – ideas that made sense of the things that had been bugging me. So I’ve been taking notes all weekend, going for walks with bits of scrap paper and a pencil, waking up in the middle of the night and fumbling for the notebook I keep beside the bed – and hopefully the stuckness is gone.

Today I’m going to make some notes on what people want. Tomorrow I’m going to replot. See where it takes me. Fingers crossed. I’m liking the fact that I don’t yet have a contract for this series. Makes all this messing around not quite so fraught.

6 thoughts on “Getting stuck. Again.

  1. Amber-Kate says:

    Hello
    Stuckness sure isn’t nice, someone should invent an unsticking potion to cure it, that would be very useful! How do you make sure you never miss an idea? It seems like you have paper everywhere to write things down! Also, how do you start a new story? How do you get the beginning idea? Today seems like a question day πŸ™‚ it sure is extremely hot in Auckland, how is Australia?
    πŸ™‚

    1. Lian says:

      I am pleased to report, Amber-Kate, that I am no longer stuck. πŸ™‚ All it took was a few days off and being kind to myself – perhaps that’s the unsticking potion. Now for your questions:

      1. How do you make sure you never miss an idea?
      Yes, I have bits of paper everywhere. And notebooks. I always have a big notebook for whatever I’m working on, and no matter what I’m doing, if an idea jumps into my head I grab the notebook and write it down. If I’m somewhere I absolutely can’t do that, I picture it in various ways to set it in my mind until I CAN write it down.

      2. Also, how do you start a new story?
      A good question and a difficult answer. I don’t really know. It’s never straightforward. Sometimes an idea jumps into my mind out of nowhere, but even then I have to go looking for the details of it. Mostly it’s just living with uncertainty for weeks on end – I pick up odd books from the library, and look at photos, and wander round town and into strange buildings, and sit in the mall and watch people, and daydream, and all sorts of other things to spark ideas. It’s quite a frustrating time because I can’t do anything definite, but it’s also exciting because an idea will just jump into my mind, seemingly out of the blue (but really sparked off by one of those books or buildings).

      3. How do you get the beginning idea?
      I often don’t find the beginning of a story until I’ve written the whole story. The beginning and the end are always the hardest bits, though I’m getting better at beginnings. A story needs to begin just before the action starts – just before a change of some sort that gets things moving. So the hero/heroine is pottering along in their usual world – just for a page or two, so we can see what that usual world is like – and then SOMETHING HAPPENS that throws them into the story.

      It hasn’t been too hot here for the last couple of weeks. But very dry – though it rained last night for the first time in ages. Rain glorious rain!!!!

  2. Amber-Kate says:

    For the first time in what seems like in forever it has rained for us too! Thanks for the answers, I’m getting better at endings but the beginnings have always troubled me so i’ll try doing what you do πŸ™‚ What’s your favourite place to go when in need of ideas?

    1. Lian says:

      Oo, congratulations on the rain. Isn’t it wonderful when it comes. And I’m glad to hear you’re getting better at endings – they are so hard. As for beginnings, just keep experimenting and you’ll find you get better at them.

      My favourite place for getting ideas – hmm – often my best ideas crop up when I’m walking on the beach. Or in the shower. But if I’m actively trying to jolt something new into being, probably my favourite place is the museum. I adore museums. πŸ™‚

  3. Amber Kate says:

    That might explain the ‘museum’ of thieves then πŸ™‚ They certainly are great places to get ideas, I also drive past a road called Lady’s mile rd the other day up north and it was a lovely road, there were lots of oak like trees and green grass πŸ™‚

    1. Lian says:

      πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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