Monday, October 6, 2008

After the honeymoon

Or: when the path becomes a quagmire or has boulders blocking it, or thorned bushes growing close on each side.

In other words--you've picked a path and determined to go down it and you're going along and it gets nasty.

Part of the problem? If you think of each new idea as being like a first date--only unlike first dates, you already know that you adore the new idea. But it feels like the rush of first love, ah, romance. This is the one! Perfection! Joy! But of course as you continue to date and get deeper into a relationship and it becomes more complex and layered, hmmm.

And after the honeymoon, when you're slogging along thinking "Do I have to rewrite this scene AGAIN?" (Why do I always have to do the dishes?) or "I'm so sick of working on this painting, I can't stand to look at it" (She's not going to tell that same story AGAIN is she?) or "What am I doing out here in this wretched weather waiting to take a photo? (I hate golfing in the rain, but my honey loves to golf, so...).

Like everything else we commit to, we have to commit because sooner or later it becomes work, sometimes hard work. Although the passion is still there, it may be hard to feel it when you're slogging through the muck of a muddy path or clambering over huge boulders or wincing from thorns.

Okay, yes, I'm mixing analogies and metaphors and images, but you get the idea.

What to do when the road gets rocky or the first flush of passion is only a dim memory?

First, remember. Remember not just that first flush of excitement, but remember when you decided to commit to this particular work. Remember why. Remember the strength of that commitment. And remember the passion you felt.

Second, take a conscious break. Sometimes the way through the mud is to step out of it. Not for so long that you forget where you were on the path, or go down another one, but long enough to get another perspective (see, if I do this the path dries out).

Jump over the boulders. That's the amazing thing about any creative project, unlike paths and relationships, you don't have to be linear. You're not trapped in straight time. And we're creative people, we can think outside the box, or path, or relationship we have with the work. Struggling with your novel? Write the last scene, or another later scene, or rewrite an early scene and then return and see if that hasn't pathfound a way through.

Next post, when to give up and turn back and abandon the path or divorce it. Dave of Pics and Poems was right when he commented in the previous post But paths change. What looks promising is often disappointing...

What do you do when you hit a rough patch in a w.i.p.? Do you have any tricks or treats (it's October) that help?


Swubird said...


Very well said, and superbly written.

It's too bad we can't step back from our human relationships for a breather like we often do with our writing projects. Wouldn't that be nice?

Just imagine, your husband is going through a particularly bad mood that is driving you crazy. So you lock him in the closet for a few days until he cools down. Then, when you open the closet door, he's all smiles, and full of love. Now how good is that?

So that's what I do with my writing projects - I put them in the closet for a while. I read, I watch movies and I do something completely different. And then, if I get real lucky, a new idea, or fresh point of view comes to me like a dream. It's a good feeling. The only problem is that I have a few projects that have been hiding in the closet for several years. But that's another story.

Happy trails.

Conda Douglas said...

Thanks, Swu for your kind compliments.

Your scenerio made me laugh out loud, thank you for that too! (And I'll bet you're a husband who doesn't get closeted often, if at all!)

Taking a break gives your subconscious a while to chew it over. And for the ones still in the closet--I'll address that in the next post!

Kathy McIntosh said...

Swubird's right, beautifully put.
Sometimes, alas, it's my mood I want to lock in a closet.
Vacations, like my recent one, help. I didn't feel guilty at all for leaving my WIP at home alone with the kitties (with someone to feed and check on the felines). I'm back and ready to get to it tomorrow. (Or maybe later today)
I am perturbed by those who say their writing just won't let them go...wish mine were that way. Do you think we should set aside time to "commune" with our WIP, even if we're not hard at the writing?

Dave King said...

A fine post, full of good advice and sound common sense - particularly so, I thought, the advice to remember why you started out in the first place.

Conda Douglas said...

Oh, Kathy! Commune with our w.i.p.?! That brings such images to mind: sitting naked out in a field, flowers in my hair, getting stung in the worst possible place by a bee...

You bring up a good point, though. Communing with the w.i.p. is a good idea. If we keep "refreshed" with the work, we give our subconscious more time to work out the probs, or so I believe. And it takes less time to get back into the writing. Or at least that's my take upon it!

Conda Douglas said...

Thanks, Dave--and yes, embedded in that first flush of passion is sometimes true love!

The Muse said...


You reminded me I have something I had been working on...Shesh I put it down months ago to work on other projects. Those projects are done and I have not picked it back up again. I wonder if it's too late?

Sometimes my momentum takes a hard right turn. It's really difficult to get back into the flow.

I'm loving these posts. Keep them coming.

Have a Great weekend!

Conda Douglas said...

Thanks, Muse!

And yeah, those hairpin turns in the path can be a real killer, or at least a slowdown!