This week is your last week and is about learning how to see your project through to the end.
Please note that the activities will take more than 10 hours, but we’ll be doing this week’s stuff over the course of a week and a half.
- Learn the truth about writing blocks
- Sensitize yourself to the 3 grunts
- Continue to write, meeting the time or word goals you have in your plan
- Create your project plan to finish this novel
Discovery Questions & Activities
Question 1: What do you do when you get stuck? (1 hr)
Writer’s block is not what you think it is. Please read Spiderman, Peter Parker, and the Gift of Writer’s Block. Note in the comments which of the breakers you commonly experience.
Question 2: What do the 3 grunts feel like, and what causes them? (3-4 hrs)
Read the four manuscripts you received from the other writers and accurately report your experience. You will report your 3 grunts—where you’re confused, where it doesn’t ring true, and where you were getting bored. You will also report the parts you really enjoyed.
For the 3 grunts, this is like a patient reporting symptoms. And symptoms are all you will report in our meeting. You will not be sharing your diagnoses or prescriptions. I recommend you think about those things, but that is not what you’ll be sharing.
Why none of that?
First, the story might not be broken. Your experience is just that, one person’s experience. It’s the author’s job to figure out if your experience is a sign of an issue he thinks needs to be addressed.
Second, you may not know exactly what the author is trying to do. So how can you diagnose the means when you don’t know the end? You could guess, and we could discuss, but we don’t have time for that in this session, and the most important thing is to get the symptoms. Better to simply report, and then, if he wants, the author can ask to discuss your comments and get your ideas later.
Third, I’ve been in too many workshops where someone, myself included (alas), weighs in with you-shoulds and you-musts as if they actually own the project and know the best way. We are going to practice humility. Because it’s closer to the reality of the situation, and because it makes for a better workshop. There’s nothing wrong with discussing story issues and brainstorming with other authors, but we’re not going to do it here. If the author wants to explore and hear your ideas, they can contact you afterwards.
Definitely think about how you might fix issues you have with the various manuscripts, but we’ll focus on simply accurately reporting our experience in the workshop. The most important thing I think we will gain from this is an increased sensitivity to these grunts and a better focus on reader response as the goal as authors.
How to do read:
- Pick up the manuscript and approach it like you would a novel with an intriguing cover.
- Read, hoping you’ll find a great story
- If you experience any grunts, quickly mark the spot and keep moving. We know these are all first drafts and so there may be more grunts than with something more polished. If you find a spot that’s really delightful, quickly mark it and keep moving.
- Read to the end or the point where you would have abandoned it in a normal setting. However, you may also push past that point and continue reading to the end.
- When you get to the end, go back and clarify what each mark is for.
I’ll explain how you’ll report your experience with the story in our meeting.
Continue writing (6-8 hrs)
Round out your week by continuing to write your novel.
Attend our Meeting (1.5 hrs)
I’ll send out times. My daughters are coming home from their LDS missions this week. I haven’t seen them for 18 months, so I’m pushing it out to the 23rd or 24th 🙂
Create plan (1 hr)
Post your tentative plan for finishing your novel in the comments. I want a target finish date, hours per week you intend to spend, and how many words you think you’ll finish each week. Make it realistic, not super aggressive.