Trusting the Flow

DSC_0028I’m re-writing the beginning of Planes Shifter from scratch. I’m checking and re-checking my five main sub-plots to ensure I don’t veer off too far from them this time. But this is almost like a new story without those extra plot-hole-fillers I’d added in through all my previous edits. I’ve written six scenes from scratch; and it’s reminded me of the joy of discovering a new story.

Things are flowing well, which lets me know I’m on the right track.

When people talk about writer’s block, I tend to think of it as a break in flow – I’ve hit a bank, and now get to choose whether to take the left fork or the right one. Sometimes though, I’ve just reached some rapids or a mini-waterfall, and I just need to re-read the past bit, and focus on my next scene. Once I’ve made the decision, things seem to fall back into place again.

In it’s previous incarnation, I feel that I let “more snakes out of the bag than [I was] able to kill”, and thus when I hit a block, I had around 15 different streams I could choose. And 14 of them had a massive waterfall too high for me to survive. So I’d cut away at the edge of the bank until I’d made yet another tributary, away from that plot hole, but into even more dangerous terrain.

And thus, I ended up with 18 subplots and not even one of them led to the sea.


So here I am, enjoying the view of my one river; making the odd yes/no choice as I go, but still able to see where the other track would roughly have taken me. I can keep an eye out from my boat, check the map and my compass often; and hopefully we’ll reach the ocean soon.

How do you stay on course when writing or revising?


4 responses to “Trusting the Flow

  1. Staying on course can be a problem for me, as I don’t tend to plan, so whenever I sit down to write I re-read the last thing I wrote, and I write a summary of each chapter when I finish it. Personally I tend to find that when I get writer’s block it’s because the last few hundred words I wrote were in some way leading me down the wrong path, so the block is a clue that I’ve gone wrong and that I need to go back and make changes. Hopefully re- reading regularly will help keep me straight!

    • That’s a great idea. I have a set of keywords for my subplots that each scene needs to cover (i.e. this scene has X, Y and Z in it) and then I’m checking it off against those at the end.
      That’s a good way of looking at it – to see a block as a “let’s just re-check the past few paragraphs are going the right way”.

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. I enjoyed reading your blog. In fact, the words entering my mind as I read? “Oh! That’s me! Whew, I am not alone.” I am also re-writing the beginning of a novel I was partway through. I hit that bank, nothing flowed – not even a trickle. I had to go back and re-examine my original plot and made the tough (and wildly unpopular) decision to re-write. So far (knocking on wood) it’s going GREAT! Sometimes a writer has to make some drastic decisions to find the whole story, but when it works, its grand! Thank you for the enjoyable post!

    • I think we writers often feel alone, and yet experience similar things – however different our processes, we’re all reaching toward the same thing and I guess thus pass the same “stages” sometimes.
      I’m glad your story is improving!

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