The 30,000 Word Stall, or, so lost I know I’m on the right path.

Goals are important. Sticking to them is even more important.

I have not been blogging, and for that I am sorry, life is still churning me about and giving me a little too much to do with my brain and my time and leaves me with precious little at the end of the day to squeeze in what words I can before sleep.

This month, most days, I have not done well with writing. And if the fiction isn't rolling out, the writing that I can simply slap down and fix later, then the writing made to be read instantly suffers even more.

I'm tired, I'm lost, and I know I have to finish anyway. No matter now much I'd rather watch hours of Firefly and eat a box of gluten free cinnamon Chex and not think about the word count slipping past. I'm tired and even though the end is in sight, I really would love to lie down here and sleep until December, waking only to have more Chex. Or maybe chocolate.

Luckily, my writing has taught me to recognize this exact feeling,

It's the 30,000 word mark. That point in the goal of 50,000 words that everything is a jumble and impossible and awful and I'm a terrible writer and my plot is too complicated and how can I ever solve all the conflicts in the next twenty thousand words if at all and why oh why didn't I just go to school like a normal person.

If you've written anything long enough, you know this feeling. It's the spot where the story has lost its purpose and it seems like the only logical thing to do is to just give up ad start something else.

Or go back to school for that engineering degree.

It isn't resistance, or fear, or any of the other things we have talked about. It's just the 30,000 word mark, and it is a very, very good sign.

The 30,000 word mark is when all the plot starts to come together, when the difficulties start to show and the characters have definite personalities of their own. If we have done the first thirty thousand bits of writing correctly, we should be totally, terribly lost. It means our conflicts are conflicted, our characters are compelling, and we are pushing ourselves to grow as writers. This is the place where we get to know if a reader will be hanging on the edge of their seat, wondering how in the Heavens it could ever be resolved.

And if we truly have no idea how we will get to that ending, more is the better. We're winning, even though it feels like losing to our own minds. Or, sometimes, just losing our minds period.

The only way through is to just run into the words as hard and fast as we can, and just write into the conflicts. Make them petty or terrible. Smash things, kill someone (fictitious someone – no murders), we just keep on no matter who slow or silly or not-what-our-writing-teacher-said-to-do terrible. It doesn't matter as long as in the end, there is resolution and the words The End.

After Eight if these, I can tell you: we are all better writers than we think as long as we just don't stop.

Because the 30,000 word mark is what separates the Writers Who Finish from the writers who let things stop them. And for this Writer Who Finishes, I never know what story I am telling until I have crossed that finish line. The end tells me what the whole story was about.

The end makes the trouble worth it, no mater what the middle may look like.

And here I am, at a 30,000 word mark of the year.

I have been constantly amazed at how much my writing informs my life this year. Writing this much changes a person, and those changes run through even facet of life like cracks in a block of ice.

I've struggled through the midst of it, I have let things begin to change and take shape and I don't yet know what the changes will be. And my whole life is stunningly different already. I'm almost what I would call a real person.

But this is not the end, it's when it all starts to braid the strands of change together toward one final point, when the entire journey will make sense.

I can't quit now, the fun is just beginning.

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5 thoughts on “The 30,000 Word Stall, or, so lost I know I’m on the right path.

  1. I’ve finally just cracked 30K words on my first novel after being stalled for a month a few hundred words shy. This post was great, as I am despairing over ever landing my jumbled mess.

    There is hope. Now I know there is hope.

    1. Haha yes! This is fantastic.

      And of course there is hope! One of the things I have learned so far is that the more lost I am, the better it is. Sometimes the best way to plow through the wrap up is to just do it, stay up late and have some wine, just enough so that damned conscious mind is shouldered out of the way by your inner beasties. The beasties are very good at finding a good ending.

      Please keep me posted on how it goes! Keep writing!

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