I’ve been blocked on the story I’m writing. I keep starting it, not seeing my way forward, trying to outline it, starting it again…. I have three or four versions started and saved under different names or dates in that project’s folder. But, frustrating as that is, I’m being patient with it. I tell it I’m going to zip it all into a zip file and just hold it for another time, but I keep messing with it.

See, it isn’t a matter of inspiration. Sometimes I write because the story takes hold of me, but usually it’s a character or a situation or a concept, and those have to be inserted into a story line, and the story line has to be right. The story line is like a suit of clothes. The clothes have to fit what’s inside them, and they have to be appropriate for the occasion. I have the characters and I have the occasion, and now I’m designing and making the clothes for them. Since the story I need to write is science fiction, I not only have to make the clothes, I have to design and weave the fabric. You can’t do that on a deadline if you wait for inspiration. You have to work for it.

I’ve learned that, for me, writer’s block is a form of work. I’m not actually working through the story yet, because I don’t have the fabric or the pattern yet. I’m working on that while I’m playing solitaire, cooking dinner, watching television, staring into space, writing scenes of dialog that aren’t going to be part of the finished story. I’m figuring out what’s going on behind the scenes that makes the scenes happen the way they need to happen. I’m poking at things, looking for sore points–points of dramatic tension. When I get my ducks in a row, I’ll nail them down. Let’s see…I think I could mix more metaphors, but the screen might implode.

Anyway, it’s frustrating, and I miss deadlines for anthologies sometimes because that’s the way I work. It isn’t a particularly good way to work, but plots are my weakest point, and the only way I can construct one is from the inside out.

At least I don’t get writer’s block. Not really.

MA

writing prompt: Relax.

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