20 April 2011

Writing Yourself into a Corner

I've always been stubborn about sticking to plans. If I decided I was going to catch the 3 o'clock bus, well I was going to bust a gut to get there, even though rationally I knew I couldn't make it. And sometimes I'd end up sitting at the bus stop for 55 mins waiting for the next one. For some reason I make up my mind to do something, and I find it extremely difficult to waver from the plan.
I've noticed the same thing in my writing. I decide a certain scene happens at a certain time, and I tear my hair out if I can't fit it everything else around it. Or I say that the character does this every Tuesday, and it means I can't have something else happen on a Tuesday six months in. Perhaps a character lives in a certain location or has a certain family composition, which stops me from imposing a plot twist on them. It had a mini-lightbulb moment when I realised that imposing these restrictions on myself was making the writing process harder than it needed to be. It seems so simple... just change it. But for some reason I have a brain-block on some of these things. I have to remind myself that I'm in control, and I can do anything I want in the worlds I create. (The main exceptions to this is when I've based scenes around real-life events - I'm still struggling to make things fit in properly in these cases).
It's quite freeing to break free of restrictions you've placed on yourself. Does anyone else struggle with this?


  1. No, but only because I write mostly by the seat of my pants =) I face the opposite problem - where I get stuck because I haven't figured out yet what a character is going to do an I sit around for days trying to figure out what should be happening =)

  2. It's sort of funny that you're a pantser Sierra, because you're a scientist. I would have thought you'd have everything perfectly mapped out.

    I'm a mix of pantsing and planning, but even when I'm pantsing I tend to make silly rules for myself or my characters that come back to bite me later.

  3. Yeah, I would have thought I would be a planner too. It doesn't make any sense, but then I am coming to the swift conclusion that writing (like all creative pursuits) rarely makes perfect sense =)