Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Getting Stuck

So my child has learned a new trick.  She can roll over from her back to her tummy.  For non-parental types, this is to the parenting world a giant leap forward, a huge accomplishment which moms at play groups toss back and forth--"Oh, is Timmy rolling over yet?"  Your pediatrician will ask after rolling at your child's appointment (right before your child gets jabbed with three hypodermic needles).

It's funny, because the giant broohaha over rolling over usually fails to mention the fact that your kid learns to roll...but not to roll back right away.

So E rolls over, situates herself, and remembers--she hates being on her tummy.  So she squiggles around like a turtle flipped on its back, ticked at the injustice of the world until I come to rescue her and help her back onto her back.

Then she promptly does it again.

And gets stuck.

Again.

The weird thing is, I think we all do this.  We learn how to get halfway where we want to go before we learn how to push the rest of the way there.

As writers, have you ever noticed that the place you get stuck is often the same place every time? That you bog down the same way over and over again?  You roll onto your tummy and just can't budge?

I know I do.  I find myself spinning my wheels, trying to amplify the tension in a scene...by rewriting the same scene through a different window.  I realize that my boring character shares traits with the last boring character I wrote.  Most of all, I discover that the way I've written something, the way I've approached it, is the same as before.

After a round of revisions, I found myself taking a breather and some perspective.  The way we write gives us our voice and our originality and distinctiveness, but it can also provide a minefield full of boring or ineffective that we step on every time.  The key?  The mines are always in the same place--we have to learn where we misstep in order to try something new.

At some point, my child is going to have to figure out that mashing her face into her playmat doesn't get her anywhere--that she'll have to move her arm and roll, or get those knees up and scoot into crawling.  She doesn't get it yet.  As writers, we have to figure out that we have to push ourselves a little differently, exercise  some different writing muscles.

Do you have stuck spots?  How do you overcome them?


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