Process: Writer’s Lock

This was originally posted at

Been suffering from writer’s lock this week.

Not writer’s block, writer’s lock. Due to the way we work, it can strike at any time, but it especially occurs during editing. In my mind, I have trouble reframing a scene enough to do the necessary rewrites to it. My concept of the scene becomes locked down. To some degree this is related to killing the beauties (as my teacher Marly Swick put it; also known as murdering your darlings). My brain has trouble accepting that a scene could be written as well as it already has been; that the perfect flow cannot be tampered with. Even when the scene is lacking important narrative information.

For example, I’m working on what will potentially be Ch. 1 of Luck for Hire. One of the main points of the scene is to establish Aleister’s adversarial relationship with Devine, Chance and Merit and their security head, Davis. Our original talk about the scene included the two meeting. Eric felt that was an important point. I agreed. And then promptly wrote the scene in a different, less effective way. Eric called me on it, though not immediately. My broken scene was enough to make him briefly forget what was originally intended. I’ve been fiddling with the changes since Wednesday. While I understand how the scene needs to go, it’s been locked.

The solution, to belabor an analogy, is a mental door-breaking of the scene. I can try starting over with a blank slate, but the previous version of the scene can’t be un-thought. I jimmy the edges of the scene until I let myself back in. Or something like that. In the case of this Luck scene, a real-world logistics problem cropped up and broke the spiffy beginning I’d written. I’m still not done writing the chapter and I’ve lost confidence that it is well written. That doesn’t mean it isn’t or that my opinion won’t change in time. It’s just not the zippy little collection of scenes that it was.

  • Luck for Hire spoke:
    30th/07/2010 to 2:55 PM

    […] this is intended to be Chapter One, set just before Mr. Luck to the Rescue. I’ve posted a separate process note on […]

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About This Blog

In July of 2010, Katherine and Eric Nabity began work on a novel featuring Mr. Luck. This blog includes some proof-of-concept vignettes, progress notes, "alternate takes", and commentary on the collaborative process that Eric and Katherine engage in.

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