As I think you already know, writing is not always easy. In fact, the moments when it’s hard more than outweigh the moments when it’s easy. For the most part, writing is about sitting in front of your computer or notepad and willing the words to come. Once they do come, though, you’ll usually get into a rhythm where things feel good and you can write smoothly for a while. Unfortunately, we all come up against that wall that stops the momentum at one time or another. We all get caught in “the brambles” of writing.
“The brambles” are what I would describe as the sudden feeling that you have no idea where you’re going or where you’ve been. It’s as though you were making good progress through a forest and now suddenly feel like you’re stranded in a sea of trees that you haven’t seen before. But in writing terms, the brambles usually occur when your rhythm is broken and you feel lost in your own story.
I have definitely experienced the brambles, especially during National Novel Writing Month. I’ll be in the middle of a really good, smooth section of writing and suddenly pause and feel lost. I’ll get caught up on the pointless minutiae of what I’m writing, feel like what I’ve put down on the page sounds stupid, or just not know where I should go next.
Earlier this month, Chuck Wendig wrote a blog post about detesting your manuscript. That’s probably the number one side effect of getting caught in the brambles. When you lose your rhythm and lose your way, you’re likely to step back and feel as though you hate what you’ve written so far. I particularly liked this section of Wendig’s post:
“Creation is hard. Itchy, uncomfortable. Sharp, jagged edges. Bones growing through your pre-existing carapace…Writing a novel is tantamount to wandering a dark forest. You’ll always have those times when it feels like you can’t see the stars, that the thicket has grown too deep, that the way out will never be within sight. But then you keep wandering and — okay, sure, sometimes you get eaten by a GOBLIN BEAR because they can smell your fear-pee — eventually you push through the shadow and the bramble and there’s the way forward again.”
I like that description — creation is itchy and uncomfortable, like you’re pushing your way through the brambles. You’ve come up against that uncomfortable feeling that you’re lost within your own story and you’re continuing on anyway. We all feel this way in our stories at one time or another. What’s important is that you push through and keep on writing.
— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan