Aaron looks up at me with brooding eyes and sighs.
Something’s not right.
Usually, he’s clever and confident, ready to cut anyone down to size with his rapier wit.
He doesn’t feel depressed, nor does he whine, which is what he’s starting to do right now. He’s complaining in the middle of a post-apocalyptic wasteland full of demons, werewolves, giants, and other supernatural creatures. They’re itching to toss something heavy at him to shut him up.
Then it dawns on me: Aaron, the main character in my novel, hasn’t changed a bit—I have.
I’ve run across this problem more than once during my writing. I’m the kind of guy who writes and polishes a scene over the course of a few days, not in one sitting. I’ll start my journey into a decrepit shopping mall on Monday and won’t leave until Wednesday or Thursday (note: it’s pretty scary in there).
Unfortunately, life isn’t always the most understanding of forces, and emotions do shift throughout the week. So what I felt as I started the scene on Monday may be quite different on Wednesday.
I don’t know about you, but my emotions affect all that I do, including poor Aaron who’s wondering what’s going on!
But! I have just the solution for times like these: start up the old DeLorean Time Machine. I call her Spotify, and I’m eager to hop into the back seat, tap the flux capacitor, and push her to 88mph until we’re back to a few days earlier when I was in a different place emotionally.
I feel the bass of “Feel Good Inc” by Gorillaz, and I’m back in the groove. Suddenly, Aaron isn’t taking crap from anybody, and I’m smiling again.
If your writing starts to look a bit off when you come back to it, if you’re making changes that you normally wouldn’t, stop! Take a step back. You might be in 2015!
It’s time to travel back to 1955 and make sure Biff doesn’t kiss your mom!
Well, uh, something like that.
“But Doc!” you might ask. “What if we run out of uranium, and we’re stuck in 2015?” Emotional ruts can happy to anyone.
I’d suggest looking for an alternate energy source. Pour your writing into another scene entirely to take advantage of your newfound emotion. Maybe there’s a darker scene written from the perspective of your novel’s villain.
Or, perhaps you have a side project–a short story, a poem, or even another novel—that has a very different tone from your current one. This could be the perfect opportunity to work on it a bit until you’re at the emotional level you need to be to write your novel again.
Before you know it, you’ll be back where you belong!
The journey of a writer is a difficult one, but we’re strong enough to make it. When the road gets bumpy, remember one thing: where we’re going, we don’t need roads. 🙂
So what’s your DeLorean Time Machine when you find yourself in a rut?