As I've mentioned before, I'm writing a new novel. (Yes, I'm editing one too.) And everything's been going perfectly--I'm about a third of the way through the first draft. Then, yesterday, I hit a snag. You would think that I'd be "in touch" enough with myself and my work that I'd know I hit a snag. But it doesn't work like that. First drafts are odd creatures and often have warts and birth defects--but that's okay because they get fixed later. So when I first hit a problem--I couldn't finish a scene, I assumed it was a wart. By day two of the scene, I knew there was a problem because...
1. I still couldn't finish writing the scene. This ought to have been a neon, blinking sign of a problem. It wasn't.
2. Then, I wandered the house looking for random things to clean. I didn't polish the silver, but the rugs got vacuumed more than once.
3. I got this unsettled feeling--as if the zombie apocalypse was coming and I didn't know.
4. I became grouchy, wondering why my children weren't eager to clean the house. Just because yesterday was a holiday and not even our normal clean-the-house day doesn't mean we can't embrace it as a middle-of-the-week clean-the-house day.
5. Finally, after the tenth time of working on the scene, I realized it wasn't going anywhere.
Now I know why I've been wandering the house and irritating myself and my kids. I've got a minor (hopefully) case of writer's block. To beat it, my plan of attack is pretty simple. I sit down with a ream of notebook paper and start writing. I'll start with trying to identify the issue. What the heck is wrong with the scene? Is it plot or character? Did the wrong character take over the scene? What was/is the purpose of the scene--did I get off track? What scene will follow this scene? Am I missing a segue? Is this scene misplaced in the novel--should it come later? Once I identify the problem, I'll brainstorm fixes.
Hopefully, I can figure it out quickly. On the other hand, if it takes a couple of days, the upside is that I'll have a really clean house.