A week or so ago I wrote about my somewhat belated effort to outline my novel and how hard I found the process. This week I have to confess that I’ve abandoned the process, although not intentionally. My progress slowed and slowed until eventually it came to a standstill as I completely ran out energy.
For a few days now I’ve been trying to figure out what the problem is, why I stalled. The answer hit me this morning with all the impact of a big “duh” moment–I’ve gotten lost in the details, and details are not my favorite thing. I’m not sure if the devil is actually in the details, but hell sure is. I’m a big picture person, and while I’ve learned over the years to focus on the details it’s rarely fun for me, and I avoid it if at all possible.
But I have to pay attention to the details if I want to write this novel, so I need a coping mechanism. I’ve decided to go back to what has worked before, and take some time away from the details to re-establish the big picture. If I allow myself some time to play with the story as a whole, and with the characters and their conflicts, then I think I can restore my energy and the fun of writing.
Today I’m going to sit down with a blank computer screen (or maybe a blank piece of paper), and just write about what I want this story to be. What is the story I want to tell? Why is important to me to tell it? Who are these characters and how are they going to change and develop over the course of the story? What scenes am I excited about writing and what scenes feel like drudgery?
My goal is to re-energize myself by painting the big picture in broad strokes and make sure I’ve got a solid overview of the whole story in mind before I get too caught up in outlining the details. Or, to put it in business terms, I need to see the 30,000 foot view before I deep dive into the weeds.
And in the future I need to remember to keep stepping back and looking at the whole while I’m working on the parts.