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Forgetting What You Know

It may not have been obvious, but I’ve been struggling for the last few months.  Struggling to finish Vicki.  Struggling to get some new ideas started and in the queue.

It’s getting pretty thin here.  Everything on my contracted to-do list is done and out the door, waiting on other people.  Sure, I have a few newish things going (like Lady Wyre and Vicki), but the NEW queue was getting rather low.  One of these is contracted and releasing in a few months – one is ready to submit.  What NEW files did I have?

I’ve never lacked for ideas – but I have been struggling to get new words written on new series, even though I love the concepts.  So what gives?

I finally realized today that I’d forgotten what I know.

See, with Vicki and even Golden, I wrote in that glorious place called the Zone.  For Vicki, I dreamed her book, scene by scene.  I didn’t do any character prep in advance.  She, Jesse, and Elias came on stage completely their own people and began chattering away in my ear.  Not to say that book wasn’t difficult – because it was.  Very difficult, very emotional.  It took me months to get that book done, in part because of the emotional aspects, but also because I was dependent on THEM to help me along.  If they weren’t speaking, it didn’t help that intellectually I knew what happened.  I couldn’t get the VOICE.

Golden was a bit of a fluke.  BAM.  The story was in my head, start to finish, a moment of lightning that illuminated beginning to end.  I don’t typically write in first person, I don’t typically write that genre, etc. but when the story speaks that loudly and clearly, I’d be a fool not to listen.

Now months later with both projects finished and nearly submitted (or already out the door), I sit here trying to get Phantom rumbling along with the same energy, and it’s just not happening.  It’s not the concept – I love the idea.  It’s not that I’m burned out – I’m chomping at the bit to go.  So what was the problem?

Process.  Every book seems to unfold in a different way.  I’d forgotten how rare it is for the flash of illumination story to hit me.  I’d forgotten that I haven’t dreamed a book since the very beginning (Shannari, Gregar, and Rhaekhar have always lived in my dreams).  I mean, how could I have forgotten the hero’s journey after I’ve blogged about it so many times?  Or the Emotional Toolbox, my number one favorite character development tool?  I’m ashamed to admit it, but I had forgotten.

Character leads to plot, and I’d sadly neglected to develop both. 

So this week, I’ve been working on back to basics.  I created a couple of worksheets to help remind me of what I need to know, both for plot and character.  I’m busily filling them out for a new idea that has a hard due date (that I may not be able to reach – I’ll decide after I get the story plotted and ready if I’ll try it or not).  I’m also going to fill these worksheets out for Phantom in detail.  I know they’ll help tremendously.

I’m just kicking myself that I forgot so much and waited so long.

P.S. I’ll share the worksheets later this week after I work through them a bit and tweak them.  Hopefully you won’t think I’m a freak when I say I’m pretty excited about these spreadsheets!!

8 thoughts on “Forgetting What You Know

  1. This really resonated with me. I had read a post the other
    day at Writer Unboxed about uncovering the “why” and I realized I,
    too, had forgotten what I know. You’d think after so many stories
    it would be automatic, but alas.

  2. I’m so glad you’re finding your way. I’m primarily an organic writer and it’s taken me YEARS to get words again with any regularity. I’m struggling to find the words for the next Dubric novel, but the book I wrote this fall – totally different genre, characters, everything – let itself be known that it was the book I must write and, with a little prodding, it just fell upon the page. Wish I could find that zone for Stain of Corruption.

    I hope you find your way through and that the words are glorious!! {{huggs}}

  3. Alison, it’s good to hear I’m not the only one! In trying to be open, I’d ended up closing myself off to the processes I’ve learned over the years that really will work. Especially when I’m stuck! Good luck unburying what you know!

    Tambo, thank you, and I hope you find the Zone for Stain too! I love writing organically — but it’s also frustrating when I can’t find the path and voice I need. I don’t know that the words will be glorious — I’ll just be happy to get moving in a new story!

    Thanks, guys!

  4. Wonderful post Joely. I’m looking forward to seeing your worksheets.

  5. Yaaaay worksheets!

    I’m still “discovering” what I know, and what works for me, but this post still spoke to me. Because I’ve always heard that every book is different, but after following your blog for the past two years, I’ve SEEN how different the processes can be. It’s been an invaluable learning experience.

  6. Honestly, Sis, you probably needed the downtime. I know it wasn’t intentional, but you crank out so much (and not just in writing; I don’t know HOW you keep up with your life) that I’m kinda glad you forgot the basics for a week or two.

    Don’t get me wrong; it’s awesome that you’re so prolific. I just am kinda glad you had a day or two to kinda recharge, though it may not have felt like it at the time. Bless your heart.

  7. I’ve been having issues with my writing, too. I’ve been doing too much of my work in my head, and then when it comes time to actually write I can’t remember anything that I prepped. So, in 2011, I’m starting over. I’m taking my current idea, and workshopping it. I’m going to spend all of January at a minimum getting the idea ready before writing it. And I’m going to do my darndest to not cut corners in the process… the only one I hurt when I do that is me.

  8. I’m still working on tweaking the worksheets. Hopefully tomorrow!

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