Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Underperformance

I started a new book this week.  In my head, it sounds really cool and I had a really interesting way I wanted to tell the story.

But when faced with a blank screen, the words didn't come as easily as I'd hoped.  The structure I thought I wanted to use doesn't seem to be working as well as it did in my imagination.

I thought writing each section of the book in two weeks was achievable, but unless the words start flowing much more smoothly in the next day or so, that just isn't going to happen.

I'm under-performing.  My expectations were much higher than what I find I'm capable of.

And I don't know why.

Maybe it's the structure I chose.  I tried a different approach last night, cutting in a chapter from the POV of one of the other characters in the hope that might help.  It did a little, but I'm still not certain I'm heading in the right direction.

I've thought about tightening the timeline so each character only gets a day or two of the story to cover, but I'm not sure that's going to work either.  I even got desperate and tried to outline a little bit, but that never works for me.  I just ended up getting more discouraged.

I know I'll find a way into this story.  But I doubt I'm going to finish the first 15K by May 1st which is what I had planned to do.

How do you deal with your own underperforming?


  1. Great Idea vs. Blank Screen. Eeek. Been there so many times. Sometimes I'll sketch out a very rough outline on paper before writing. Often, though, I need an opening paragraph, and at least an idea of what's happening, before I can start. If I'm really, really stuck, I might just start typing and see what happens. :)

  2. It's just frustrating when you can meet your own expectations. Maybe a writing break will help. I know it's awful to suggest when you feel like you're behind, but if that story structure isn't working, maybe just taking some time to ruminate will help you find a solution. Sometimes that works for me.

  3. As far as I'm concerned, I'm always "underperforming." I never get as much done as I want, and everything always takes twice as long as I expect. But I've finally given myself permission to take as long as I want, as long as I'm satisfied with the product at the end. Don't forget that you know a lot more than you used to about pacing, tension, character arc, etc. So your standards are a lot higher. Don't sweat it - you'll do great! :)

  4. I agree it's so frustrating when things aren't working the way you want them to. Outlining never works for me, either. If the words aren't coming and I know it's just not right, I have to step away from the computer and involve myself in something else, sometimes for a day or two. Usually by the time I sit down again, things will have sorted themselves out in my brain, and I can move forward. Good luck with it!

  5. Maybe you need to walk away from it for a day or so. Go do something to take the front of your mind off it so you the back of your mind can just dance around with your plans. As you know, the moment you stop thinking about it, voila, you've got your groove back. Best wishes to you.