This new novel gets harder to write the farther along I go. I’m on Chapter 15 now, and it’s taken me a couple of weeks to get to the third page.
The first several chapters of this first draft went faster than I expected, at least compared to my first novel if you know that it took almost 20 years to write that one (which is almost a story in itself). Along about Chapter 12, though, things started to slow way down, and now I’m lucky if I can eke out a couple of paragraphs or a few lines of dialogue a day.
As frustrating as that is, especially when all writing conditions are good — everything’s quiet, the dogs are cooperating, the phone’s not ringing — I’ve learned not to get impatient. When I was a licensed lay preacher in the Episcopal Church, I found that some of my best sermons were those that were written one or two sentences at a time, with substantial breaks in between.
So I’ve gone back to what helped then: I get up and walk around, put the dishes and/or laundry away, start a new load in the washing machine, fix some tea, go outside and listen to the cardinal(s) sing, scratch behind the dog’s big floppy ears, make the bed, make something to eat or get something to munch on, smoke a cigarette (I know …), take a short walk when the weather allows, check email, post a new blog entry (ahem) … You get the idea.
It’s not procrastination. It really isn’t. It’s procrastination if I do one or more of all those things before I sit down to write. If you’re a writer and you’re reading this, you know what I mean. Those little breaks give our brains — and our bodies — a breather and, if we’re lucky, another line or two of dialogue pops into our heads. Or the arc that we need to get over that hump in the storyline appears fully written out behind our eyes. We can almost feel the literal or figurative fresh air unclog the jumble. What a difference! Now we can work with the grace of a new perspective.
So we run back to the computer, type those beautiful words in, and … wait. Again. And light up another cigarette. Or make another cup of tea or coffee.
Oh, I just realized it’s almost lunchtime. And my goodness, that is one happy cardinal out there.
The words will come when I need them. It’s not every day that the cardinal sings. I know my characters will pardon me while I imbibe.