Slaying the Dragon by Nancy Brophy

I want to be a writer some days more than I want to write.

How long do you stare at a blank computer screen before you give up for the day? Everyone has a process of learning not to quit. Somewhere in every story, usually around the midway point, I have to force myself to continue. If I don’t, I will never finish. As it is, I am the queen of 75 pages. (But those, I tell myself, are just future story ideas).

But by the time the halfway mark looms (usually between pages 185-220) my story has become a dog that chases its tail —circling, circling, circling in a never-ending cycle.

This is the point where a new story idea starts forming in my mind that’s going to be so much better than the one in progress.

My characters, who seemed so clear to me fifty pages earlier, now start to blur.  My tangled plot has become hopeless. Self-doubt marches down the aisle looking for a lifetime hookup. And the pity-party reception follows.

Come. Join me. No need to bring a gift. I have a wealth of unused guilt and recriminations I’ll share with you. But after awhile, I kick my own butt and figure out a way to get around the wall in front of me.

And this is why I write. Nothing else gives me the sense of victory or accomplishment in my life. Like St. George, I have fought the dragon and won.

The sun shines again. And Stuart Smalley’s words come home to roost. I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!

Tell me how you solve this problem.

Really. I need to know.


Posted on August 6, 2011, in General and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Cathryn – I just picked up the ebook – Do the Work – you under estimated how good it was. Oh, man. I put it down in the middle to write and thank you. Nancy


  2. Ladies – Thank you. You’ve given me food for thought. Nancy


  3. Nancy–
    Great post!

    “I want to be a writer some days more than I want to write.”

    Love that. The opposite is also true for me. There are days when a contracted book can feel like–forgive me, characters–a burden, ’cause I’m dying to write something else. Something that, admittedly, may never sell.

    Ah well, at least I’m fretting about writing instead of passing fries through the drive-thru window. For now 😀


  4. Sometimes it helps to ask someone what they like in your writing. That can give you enough oof to keep going.


  5. Nancy,

    I agree with Sue, that I must turn off my inner editor in order to finish a story.

    I also read a fabulous piece called Do the Work by Steven Pressfield. No, I do not know this man, or have any vested interest in selling his works. I simply think this is the best darn $7.31 any writer can possibly spend, if they struggle with finishing their work. And who doesn’t?

    He speaks of the immutable forces of resistance that we must all fight our way through, and then tells how to it. I was moved to tears by the beauty and power of his understanding.

    One of the ways, for a writer, is to keep working as fast as we can, being willing to write crap if that’s what it takes. I know the real writing happens in the rewrites. My fabulous, fertile subconscious takes my story and begins to layer it, giving me character motivation, new possibilities and connections–all those fabulous Aha! moments we writers live for.

    This worked for me as I wrote a 53,000 word book in July. Even got it sent to my editor.



  6. I wish I had a reliable solution to this problem. I’d bottle it, sell it, and make tons of money from creative types. As it is, with every project, I fight my own dragons 🙂

    I did attend a workshop @RWA National, Fast Draft by Candace Havens, that was very inspirational. Her technique for writing a fast draft in 14 days could solve this problem. It’s all about turning off your internal editor. I’m taking the stand that I can teach myself to write the first draft fast, and with all I’ve learned about story structure in the last year, finish with a fairly clean copy. I’m going to give it a go and will let you know how I progress.


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