I had a kind and generous friend beta read the manuscript I’ve been working on. It’s something I’ve worked on for awhile and yet very quickly–at a couple writing retreats mostly, and then a little more. She made a comment on something that a character does and it totally messed with my whole plot. First, she was right. Her question was essentially–if that can happen at this point, why didn’t happen earlier when a similar situation occurred? My first reaction was to stick my tongue out and say Cuz! in that snotty voice of eleven year olds everywhere.
Obviously my first reaction wasn’t actually useful. The problem was I didn’t want to change my plot. Except for that one nasty little inconsistency, it works and it builds into a really good story. At least, it entertains me, and of course, I do this to entertain myself. But what to do about it? I considered. And pondered. I showered, where many solutions arrive. I made the bed. I folded laundry. I did dishes, walked the dogs, drove my kids to school and picked them up, and I couldn’t come up with anything. I attempted writing out some ideas, because that often jars things loose. Nope. Days passed.
I got entirely distracted from the problem by last week’s shootings. I don’t think even my lizard brain was thinking about solving this conundrum.
I got a brilliant idea to solve the plot issue on Diamond City Magic book 4. (I’m attempting to plot it out). This was NOT the knotty problem I’d been struggling with, but it was a problem. It’s a really solid idea and I don’t know if I can make it work, but it would solve all kinds of issues in terms of tension and stakes and developing the ongoing plot and deepening characters and conflicts. Obviously tremendously important, but not really an impact on my current dilemma.
I’m not entirely sure what the moment was when the solution arrived on the first manuscript problem. I trusted that would. I trusted that my head and my creativity would work on the problem and the solution would arrive. It has. It’s only a small change, maybe a sentence. It’s elegant and completely within the plot and characters.
My point here is, there are two somewhat contradictory truths to writing. One–you have to push and make yourself write and get words down. Persevere and make words. Tw0–you can’t force it. Sometimes you have to wait for ideas to flow out on their own time.
Now that said, I think you can court creativity. Woo it. Encourage it. You can’t wait forever and sometimes you have to prime the well. That might be through creative exercises, brainstorming, freewriting, and so on. Whatever it takes. Sometimes you write on something totally different, but encouraging the creativity on one thing can get it running on another. It’s like love: the more you have the more you make and can give more.
The main thing is that you have to trust yourself. That you can do this. That the logjam will break and the words will flow.