We all have those moments; the hero(ine) is walking through what I like to call the FoTAT – Forest of Trees And Things. All the conflict seems far away, and our villain is somewhere on the other side of this massive forest of dull description and fabulous foliage.
In other words, you’re bored out of your skull and want to skip to chapter seven, where the villain appears out of the cliché ‘thin air’, and kills the ally.
But instead you’re stuck here in the forest, wandering around wondering why in the world you ever put the forest in the story world in the first place. (Feel free to change this analogy by genre, as dystopians usually don’t have large forests and things.)
You still have to write the journey through the FoTAT, even if you skip ahead for a while and write the fun stuff. Somehow you need to pull through it, grit your teeth, tighten your grip, and all the usual descriptions of perseverance and struggle.
It’s a difficult spot, one I identify with. A lot. Currently, the heroine of my novel(la) The Elenivir is practicing being a worrywart while stuck at school. Yay. It’s right about now where I’m wishing I’d never started writing this story so I could focus on this other idea I’m really excited about.
However, I’m intent on finishing this idea (I mean who wouldn’t want to write about stopping the genocide of a race of cute little dragons, right?). So I’ve come up with ways to push through the boring parts so I can banish the mentor from the known lands and start killing little dragons*.
Cut the Distractions.
This is pretty simple; if something stops you from writing, banish it from existence. Common distractions (and their solutions):
Solution: turn it off. Stopping every fifteen minutes to browse your social networks can relieve stress, but it also racks up minutes you’re not writing. Turn it off for half an hour, and force yourself to only take ten minutes after to check Pinterest or whatever.
- Other Stories
Solution: if you’re like me, you keep your ideas organized on a document, notebooks, or some other way (Scrivener, OneNote, etc.). The simplest way is to leave this closed while you’re writing. But if they’re still bugging you in the back of your head, try thinking of the good things of this story instead.
- Inner Editor
Solution: We’ve all got one of these guys, a little voice pointing out all the imperfections (mine is a deceased villain of mine who likes to glory in all my mistakes). Tell him/her to shut up, and ignore them. It’s hard, but they do have a volume control. Somewhere.
Solution: find a place where you don’t have to listen to things that distract you – siblings, children, parents, the television, soothing lullabies, etc. If you like listening to music while you write, find something intense but quiet to listen to.
- Too many Trees
Solution: every FoTAT has too many trees. Cut down a few of the trees, make it take less time to travel to the other side. After all, the villain somehow got there way before the hero. And if you want to keep all your beautiful birches and marvelous maples, then throw something dangerous into the forest. Giant serpents, spiders with only four legs, wolverines, octopi, rangers, witches, small children, anything that can make the journey a bit more… exciting.
The FoTAT is intimidating. Your trees and undergrowth and gnarled paths await.
Turn off the Wi-Fi, plug in the earphones, turn off the Editor, and toss in a Troll. Prepare to make the best FoTAT we’ve ever read.
*Man this makes me sound like a bloodthirsty maniac.