Monday, June 7, 2010

Crossing the Treacherous Bridge

by Julia Buckley
I have a work in progress. What is written so far, my writing group tells me, is good, solid. I have also written an ending--I needed to get it on paper while I had it in my head, and I knew what was going to happen to this protagonist before I wrote the first sentence.

But the hardest part happens now. I need for this woman to get from where she is now to where she will be at the end. I know basically what she must do to reach that destination. Somehow, though, I can't seem to cross that bridge. I've been putting off writing for weeks now, because I just can't figure out the best way to do it.

So here I stand, knowing where to go but somehow unable to go there. I liken it to standing before a bridge that is rickety or crumbling or on fire. The bridge is daunting, so the traveler (me) refuses to cross.

What steps does one take to cross the bridge anyway? I know that the obvious answer is to put myself in the chair and write until I find my way. But I'm avoiding it the way I used to avoid the Riverside Shakespeare in college right before the big final. It wasn't that I couldn't do it--it was that it was too big, too daunting. I fell into the habit of avoidance.

So, readers and writers, what tips do you have to help me forge into the fire? I know other people must have been in this place before--so I'll be happy to take advice from fellow travelers who have already crossed the bridge.

(Photo: Sunset over Lake Michigan; Ian Buckley, 2010).


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

I can't always do it myself, Julia, but I do know the answer: Butt in chair. One word at a time. Just keep telling the story. Revise later.

Sandra Parshall said...

Julia, you can either do what I do and blunder ahead, writing fast and loose, trusting instinct to lead the story in the right direction. Or you can do what I also do at times, sit down and plan, plan, plan until you know every single step the character must take in at least the next half-dozen chapters. Then write it. One way or another, you have to start writing. Remember that no one has to see what you're writing at this stage. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just write it.

Julia Buckley said...

Thanks, Liz and Sandra! That helps.

kathy d. said...

Love the photo. I grew up in Chicago and don't remember seeing a sky over Lake Michigan like that. Where was it taken, do you know?