Words on Paper (Penny Rader)

What is the most difficult or challenging part of the writing process for you?

For me the most difficult part is actually getting the words onto the page.  Because it’s so hard I resist it and do all sorts of things to avoid even trying.  Especially if I'm writing something someone else might read  – current wip, this blog post, stuff for my day job.

So often I just don’t know what to say.  Then the fear takes over.  What if I’m not really a writer? What if I never finish another book?  What if I sit down with my pen and notepad (or at the computer – though I struggle even more when it’s just me and the keyboard) and nothing comes out or I can’t get beyond the first few pages of this wip that has been waiting for me?  How many stories will I start and not finish? Say I get past chapter one or five…how will I know what’s supposed to come next? And then...what if it sucks big time?

I tell myself that I have written a book and that if I can complete one, then I can finish another.  If I share a secret, do you promise not to laugh at me?   I like “having it written,” but not the actual writing part.  I know!  Shameful thing for a writer to admit.

Want to hear something else?  Give me a picture or a writing prompt and I’ll get words on the page.  Give me some random words for our Mission Possible exercises and I can string them into a sentence.  I love writing exercises.  Maybe it’s because some of the pressure is off.  If I have a picture or prompt, I know what I’m writing toward.  But write a story just out of my head?  I guess the trick will be to find enough pictures, enough ‘prompts’ to plot out this current wip and get words on the page followed by more words and even more until I reach the end. And then I can edit and revise [which is one of my favorite parts of writing].  And then type “the end” and submit it to an editor.

And then I’ll have to start all over again.  That may be what truly scares me the most.

15 comments:

Melissa Robbins said...

Penny, I have those fears of the blank page, but you just have to sit down and write something. I struggled with the first and second chapter of my recent story, so I started somewhere else. That helped and I was able to go back and write those chapters.

Penny Rader said...

Thanks, Melissa. So glad you've been able to move ahead with your wip.

Tanya Hanson said...

i don't usually have writers block. I've had stories in my head since I was four. But...life gets in the way especially when things are not going well. I haven't yet learned how to get that angst into my wip. Sheesh. Learning curve, I guess. Now off to feel better: mani-pedi! xoxox

Ps. Hope this works. The captcha is gnarly.

ckcrouch said...

Hi Penny, I have the opposite problem I write and write and write a never ending story. I can't figure where the heck the story will finish. In one way I know there will be the HEA and all loose ends tied up but the process of getting from beginning to the end takes me forever.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Penny!
I've "started all over again" over twenty times. The hardest part for me is slogging through the beginning. some books, I'm halfway through before the slog lightens up. Others, once I make it past the third chapter I feel ready to roll.

You sound like the perfect person to do collaging. Those snippets of things, pictures, fabricks, anything that will be useful and act as a prompt - might make all the difference in the world for you. Though having solid GMC and an idea of how your plot should go helps! LOL

Writing is tough. I think Susan Wiggs said something to the effect that - We see the story in our head, then have to figure out how to say the words to put it on the page. It never comes out like we imagine it. Then, the reader comes along and imagines it differently from how we wrote it, and well - this writing stuff is a very imperfect process.

Keep at it, though! LOL

Reese Mobley said...

I don't struggle with getting the words down, just the right ones. I like to have everything perfect before I can move on. Word choice is a big part of comedic writing. Sometimes it comes easy, sometimes not. I think the important thing is just to close your eyes and jump in with both feet. You did it once. You can do it again!!

Pat Davids said...

Penny, I struggle with parts of my story, too. But like Melissa, I jump over and write the next scene or any scene that is clear to me. Sometimes, that breaks the deadlock and I can see what I need to make the story progress. Anyway, that's how I get words on paper.
Pat

Penny Rader said...

Hi Tanya! Hope your mani pedi went well. Had my first ever pedi last weekend. Won't be my last. :D

How cool that you've had stories in your head since you were four. I don't even remember being four.

Rox Delaney said...

“You can fix anything but a blank page.” - Nora Roberts ;)

Penny Rader said...

Thanks for stopping by, ckcrouch. Hope you get to that HEA soon!

Penny Rader said...

Hi Lynne! Thanks for sharing your process. I'm going to give collaging a try. My son brought me a HUGE bulletin board last week. I bought some push pins and will start pinning to my heart's content. Conflict doesn't come naturally to me...so I sure hope collaging helps clarify it for me.

Penny Rader said...

Hi Reese! I'm looking forward to reading your books. I love your comedic voice. Thanks for the encouragement.

Penny Rader said...

Hi Pat! Sounds like a plan...write whatever scenes pop into my head (can't wait to that collage going to inspire such scenes!) and then weave everything together later.

Katherine said...

Hi Penny, I have more unfinished manuscripts than I want to admit to. Some of them, I don't think I thought the plot through enough before I started so I didn't have strong GMCs for the hero or heroine, others were abandoned because I couldn't figure out how to write myself out of corner I'd written the characters into. I've saved them all and hope to revise and finish them some day. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who dreads staring at the blank page at the beginning of a new story. :o)

Melissa Robbins said...

I like that collage idea. I guess I did that with my presentation board earlier this month. We should make collages as a program one night or during our mini retreat. I'm a visual person, so I would LOVE to see what other members are working on.