Pantser Problems: Stuck In The Middle

I knew this time would come, sooner or later, with my latest WIP. That annoying question that presents itself as a roadblock, stopping you from moving on. A question in the form of three little words.

What happens next?

This WIP sprang from my head quickly and I hit the 25K mark in less than a week. Things were going great and the words were flowing. I was loving the honeymoon phase, where I felt like everything was coming together exactly how I wanted it to. But a couple days ago, the words dried up. Hitting 30K felt a bit like climbing a steep hill and getting tired and not being able to see the top. I slowed down. I didn’t know where to take the plot. It was like the characters were just standing there, waiting for me to give them direction, and meanwhile I was waiting for them to just do something, but they weren’t having it.

I think I know where I want the story to go– I’m just not sure how to get there.

Maybe it’s the tone of the WIP weighing on me. It’s more subdued and less humorous than the way I normally write. The whole tone of the MS is darker. It’s all about the weight of a secret, and each character has his or her share. My MC isn’t snarky or sarcastic. She’s unhappy and lonely but still hopeful. It’s a challenge to write, but I knew I wanted to write this MS– and had to– because the idea just wouldn’t get out of my head. And I think you have to really love an idea to spend a whole book on it.

The challenge I’m facing now is writing through the unknown, even though I can’t see the top of that hill. I need to have faith that everything will unfold as long as I keep writing. I always feel like the moments where you aren’t sure what to say but your fingers start typing it out anyway are the most fulfilling moments as a writer. I live for those moments where I can think, aha! This makes perfect sense. What was I so worried about?

So I’m going to keep writing and keep grasping for those stubborn words until they flow again. I’m adopting Dory’s famous refrain from Finding Nemo as my mantra. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” Eventually the surface will be there and things will make sense again.

To everyone else working on a WIP, happy writing, and I hope the words flow freely! If they’re not now, they will again. And for those of you revising– you have already created something amazing and are just refining it, making it shine. No matter what stage you’re at– starting a new MS, rewriting an old one, or stuck somewhere in the awkward middle with me– we’re creating something, and that we can all be proud of.


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