When Backward Is The Best Step Forward

Have you ever had a time in your life when you asked people for advice on something you already knew the answer to? Sometimes, saying it outloud is enough to realize the answer. Other times, it takes a lot of talking to circle back around to your original suspicion. The problem is the answer is hard, or it is not something you want to do but, in the end, you give up seeking validation and do the right or original thing you should have done all along.

As a writer, or in any area of life for that matter, it is sometimes hard to admit that you are stumped or wrong. For the last few weeks I have been at a crossroads. I have been frustrated. When I’ve sat down at the keyboard and dedicated an hour or so to my story I found all my energy sapped. I would try to write a few sentences and force my story onward but it came out so clunky and so incredibly misspelled that I scrapped it. This happened many, many times and many thousands of words were deleted trying to find the plot threads I knew that were there. In the end I felt defeated by my own work.

This cycle went on for several days. I even tried to convince a few of my friends that I was headed in the right direction and it would be great and trendy and new. Many of them were kind, per usual, and encouraged me. A few others told me that I was not being honest to my story and that it would require me to go back and edit the rest of it.

I now look back and see that when I came to this crossroads I chose the wrong path. This is one of the most difficult things in the writing process. Knowing when you are wrong and do what good ole William Faulkner says,“In writing, you must kill all your darlings,” And kill my darlings I did, all of them. I had to do it for the betterment of my story and, it worked.

"Kill Your Darlings!"

Fresh starts in writing, or life, are sometimes all you need. Last night, I started a new word document and began writing and found the path. It was so tremendously satisfying I wrote for only a half hour and finished over seven hundred words. This is not a pat on the back for me, this is me celebrating that I was a mouse in a maze that kept finding dead ends. Now, finally, I see the path and perhaps, I am nearly out. 

Have you ever experienced this? That one plot obstacle that kept popping up? How did you overcome it?

Keep writing my friends.

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