An oubliette is a small dungeon, a hole in the ground a prisoner is dropped into, often never to be retrieved, which is not a good place to be, at all – There is no way out – Many situations can have similar attributes, and writing is no exception.
Working on writing a book is a repetitive exercise, you have to go back over it again and again, writing, editing, polishing, changing, rewriting, re-editing, re-polishing, changing, etc.
Sometimes you’re working so hard on one area of your manuscript that you get bogged down more in the work itself than the storyline. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have done that.
It starts off by staying in those pages for too long. You read them so many times, they become old news to you. You know every line. If you stay there for too long, however, a different sort of problem crops up and you might find yourself trying to deal with the length of something that turns out to be a fault in your perception rather than a fault in your work.
I’ve done that. I have worked on a scene that feels way too long, as though it goes on for too many pages, only to realize that it feels that way simply because I keep reading it over and over again. That’s what I mean by getting bogged down in the work rather than the writing.
I’ve recently been exactly there. The whole “meltdown of plot” distraction, the ripping out threads, the rearranging everything else (multiples times). While all are signs of “much work needed”, after a time they are also symptomatic of “being in there too long”.
Of course, that just adds pressure, so if you’re writing to a schedule, nothing is going to screw you up faster than getting into that sort of oubliette. Not only does it tie you down right there where you are, it stops you from thinking anywhere outside the issues you are dealing with. It’s rather like being trapped in glue.
Realizing it certainly helps. What lifted me out of that trap was first of all some enforced time off, which allowed me to see the situation with a bit more clarity, and secondly, making the decision to step away from that area and work in another section entirely.
That is what I have done. By shifting my focus, I’ve let go of whatever I thought I was dealing with, whether they are real issues or supposed issues, allowing my subconscious to deal with them. Hopefully my inner mind will throw forward some useful ideas when I get back to those pages.
Meanwhile, though, I’m back to getting heaps of work done. Which is the boost I needed and the boost I am so enjoying.
What I’m currently doing is working from the end of the story back, rather than the beginning forward – it’s a whole new area which gives a refreshing change from where my focus has been for such a long time.
It feels good!
Cheers, everyone! Have a great day.