Using What You’ve Got by Christine Duncan

Safehouse2_cvr Are you ever not in the mood to write whatever it is you’re writing? I’m not talking about writer’s block here, but just those times where your life is not paralleling your book. So your next logical scene is a love scene but you’re in a foot stomping, let-me-at-’em mood and do not want to even think romance right now.
I seldom write linearly for just that reason. I have to work myself up to write scary (or even very sad) parts and some days I just don’t want to deal with feeling scared or sad. Lots of people force themselves to sit down and write it anyway. I figure there will be a day coming up when it will feel okay so I just go on to another part that I know must be coming.
Since I don’t outline, this is more difficult than it sounds. Sometimes this has resulted in the book taking turns that I never anticipated. Sometimes, it means that I waste a day writing something that will never see the light of day. But usually, I know in a general way where things are going. For instance, in my present WIP, my character has been building to having it out with her teenage daughter. If I’m feeling cranky (or chippy, if you’re Canadian) today, I can write that scene instead of the Christmas scene that I should be writing if I were keeping it in logical order.
The other trick to doing this is to somehow name or number the scene so that it is in your file somewhere near where you think you are going to need it. When I go back and do the next draft I put everything together and I may forget that I have written certain scenes. (Yeah, I’ve done it more than once.) So I have learned to have a file on the computer titled scenes I’m using. In it, I put the stuff that is out of order. The rest of the book is in (semi) chapter order with a file for each chapter. All of it is in one big folder with one folder per book.
I try to title the out of order scenes in some way so that I can figure out what the heck they are about. It makes putting everything together a little easier.
I would like to think that I am organized but the truth is, I seldom am. So I have learned to compensate and use what I’ve got. And if what I’ve got is a bad mood–well, better to take it out on the characters, right? And I get to stay productive.


2 responses to “Using What You’ve Got by Christine Duncan

  1. I find that I have to be in a certain mood with whatever story I happen to be writing at the moment.

    If I’m writing a story that is relatively upbeat or simply contemplative, then I really have to be in that frame of mind. Same goes for when I’m writing a story that is a little over the top/emotional.

    I find that it helps me a lot if I’m working on two or three stories at any give time. That way, if I’m having problems with one, I can move to another that meets my current state of being.

  2. I do exactly the same thing – sometimes I write the really interesting scenes before I even start the story (and again, I don’t outline – I follow where the story leads me). And sometimes, ifI’m writing a book, and have to write a particular scene, and can’t face it that day, I quickly scribble off a short story in the style I do want to do, so at least it’s not wasted.


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