Open the floodgates

Since getting back from Kansas City last week I’ve been a little stuck with my writing.

What does that mean?

Exhibit A: I started three separate short stories this week, but I couldn’t get past the fifth paragraph on any of them. Each one had interesting characters and unusual settings, but they all lacked one important thing: a plot. I would get sucked into the mood and overall idea of the piece and then realize I had no idea where it was going.

Exhibit B: the first draft of my current novel, PROJECT AWESOME, has been trucking along pretty well until very recently. Lately, though, instead of moving forward I’ve been going back over what I’ve written, tweaking and revising and…stopping dead anytime I get near the blank pages at the end of the document. The problem? I’ve reach the point in my outline that simply reads: “stuff happens to make Julia question her choices”.

Stuff happens.

Yeah. The devil’s in the details, isn’t it?

Basically, the problem I’m having with the short stories is the same problem I’ve been having with the novel. I need to back away from the page and sit down and figure out what the hell happens next.

I finally managed to do just that for the novel this morning. And guess what I did this afternoon? Spewed out the subsequent two chapters as if it were nothing. Boom. Floodgates open and the drafting proceeds.

I love outlines. Until I hate them, that is.

The lesson I’m choosing to take from this (though I’m sure there are many)? Maybe I should start outlining my short stories.

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