Writing Problems: Keeping Inside of It

During this time of editing my current story, there are times — when I’m actively working on it, when I’m not in it — that I find myself thinking about it. Not just what I can do, where I can take the story. That’s fine. That’s productive to me. No, instead I find myself obsessing over how impossible the whole thing is.

I start to worry that the whole thing, it just won’t work, that whatever plot problems I have are unfixable. I’ll never hit the right tone, I’ll never make my character complicated but understood by a reader. Really, I just can’t do it.

I still make myself pick it up. I read over the chapter, find the parts I marked for rewrites. I edit, and I create new scenes. And I love it. I love my character, I love the place I put her in, I love the challenge of twisting the dialogue and narration just enough so that I get those moments where I feel like my words actually sing. I straighten out the plot, sew in my new words, and suddenly everything feels a couple of steps beyond what it was before. I’m filled with the idea that this story will eventually work.

Sometimes things just don’t work. The plot wasn’t going the right way, or you just weren’t at the skill and experience level required to bring that idea to life. But if the story feels right to you, then maybe you need to keep inside it, work on it, until you feel you’ve actually exhausted all your possibilities.


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