Sometimes when you write…it’s a little like that famous scene from The Walking Dead’s first episode. You know, where Rick Grimes sees the walker who is missing the bottom half of her body? Well, she’s reaching for him, making the typical walker sound, and we’re given a sense of desperation, hunger, despair, basically everything negative and nothing even remotely pleasant. Yeah, you probably don’t just see it, you know it. We all do at sometime in our lives for different reasons.
But the thing is, when you’re writing, you’re not Rick Grimes—you’re not operating on a Ricktatorship. Nope, you’re that walker who’s barely cleaning to life, humanity and hope. Eventually you might get your Ricktatorship on, but it takes time for you to realize how to kill the walker. How to keep moving forward.
So what’s a fix for this horrible step for writing? I don’t know. I’m not sure that I ever will. But I’ve been tossing around an idea and if I ever become famous enough to write a book on writing, then maybe this’ll make the cut.
Start with your character, because that’s who drives the story (most of the time), right? But don’t write in first person, write them in third. Maybe if you usually write in third, try your hand at second. Whatever you do, push yourself out of your comfort zone. Sometimes you get too comfortable and that’s why you get stuck—you just expect things to happen. So if you do something different, you’ll be in a territory where you’re more alert and everything is more vibrant. Put the person in a situation with other characters and see what happens.
I’ve found that in doing this, you have this moment of clarity. You might realize that the main character who you thought you were going to center the story on, isn’t really the main character. They’re just background. Really the main character is the brother who’d rather spend his time out on the open sea, who always grumbles witty comebacks and has dog that wears a flannel shirt. Okay, so maybe that went weird. But the point is, you’re writing. You’re in a completely different territory and the whole point of fumbling is that you somehow find your way out—or you find your story. Well, the beginning, because obviously there was a whole lot more story after that half-walker. But you can slip back into your comfort zone, into your story with an idea of where you’re going, just maybe not how to get there. You will, though.