by Stephen Buehler
On a typical day I sit down to write. Well, I intend to write but I don’t. I ask myself, why not? Ahhhh. It’s because of the creative hump. Something we all experience.
For me the creative hump is fear of the unknown. Fear of not being able to write the next scene. Fear that I don’t know where it’s going. Fear my writers group won’t like it so it has to be excellent. Fear of what I’m writing is no good. Fear created by comparing myself to other published authors.
You all see what’s wrong with that kind of thinking. It’s quite obvious.
Smart Stephen should say…
- Just write the next scene, you’ve been able to finish every scene so far. Why should the next scene be any different?
- A first draft is just that, a first draft. There will be multiple drafts in your near future. Don’t worry you will be addressing that passage again.
- The writers group is a forgiving bunch. They’ll tell you what they like and don’t like about the scene. Then you get to rewrite it again. And again.
- It doesn’t have to be perfect until you actually send it out to agents or publishers.
- You’ve received positive feedback in your writing life so far, you must be doing something right.
- Accept that you’re at the level where you are right now. Published authors didn’t start out writing brilliantly.
It’s the kind of advice you’d give to someone else but it’s the kind of advice that’s hard to give yourself and even harder for you to believe in. Some times it’s easier to listen to Smart Stephen than other days.
The creative hump can vary. The hump is huge when beginning a new project and continues through the first draft. The second draft is easier, I already have my words to play with. If I’m inspired for a flash fiction piece or a short story I can sit down and the piece pours out of me.
One trick I discovered to help battle that creative hump applies to when I’m rewriting a scene or sometimes even a new scene. When I begin to work on the existing chapter I tend to make small changes leaving a lot the same. I end up tinkering with it, not rebuilding it. I think to myself, if I delete it, what if the new scene doesn’t work? Yes, I have it saved from a previous draft but it’s hard for to get past the feeling that a really bad chapter will wreck the present draft.
What I’ve learned to do is copy the part I want to work on and place it in a new file. Just that scene. I give myself permission to start over and create it as it organically pertains to the story. The new scene might work. I may only like part of what I’ve just written. Maybe it ends up being a lead into what’s already there. Whatever happens, I feel the freedom of it not being part of the big draft I’m working on so I can really turn on the creative juices.
This I know, the creative hump is not going away. What counts is how I learn to handle it.
BTW, I had no creative hump writing this blog. It was one of my inspired moments.
Do you encounter the creative hump? How do you overcome it?
Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. His story, Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and was a Derringer Finalist. He is currently seeking a home for his novella, The Mindreading Murders. He is completing a rewrite of his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. By day he is also a script/story consultant, magician and a nice guy. www.stephenbuehler.com