Dry Spells or Learning about my personal writing process

I had a writing hiatus.

It was much longer than I expected it to be.  It was a scary dry spell of no writing.  It came after a plateau.  And a problem with my writing group.

I had decided to start taking chapters to writing group.  Chapters from my current work in progress.  I left writing group after each chapter with a handful of notes and revisions planned.  The problem…I wasn’t finished with the story.  So in one hand, I have a half-written story with momentum needed to plow through to the end.  And in the other hand, I have a stack of revisions on the beginning of the story.  So I edited the first chapter (not the right choice, by the way) and went back to writing group with the next chapter.  I left the group again with a stack of changes in one hand and no momentum to move forward.

So I froze.  Do I move forward?  Do I go back and make changes?  I can assure you the answer is not “go back and make changes.”  But how do you move forward with a stack of problems from the beginning?  So I did neither.  And Because I was mid-project, I didn’t feel that I could abandon it for something else.  So I wrote nothing.  Not a word for months.

That dry spell taught me something very valuable about my process as a writer.  I am enough of a Discovery writer that I can’t interrupt the flow of a story and start the feedback process until its DONE.  Completely done with the final words on the last page DONE.  It ruined my momentum to learn about changes that were inevitably coming. Do I know all first drafts are going to need changes?  Yes.  Do I think it’s okay to bring a first draft to writing group?  Yes. But, for me, bringing the first draft of an incomplete project spelled disaster.

I’m back at writing again and back in full swing.  But that valuable lesson is going to stay with me and help me make sure I don’t interrupt the flow of my creativity.

I have a new writing group and I set strict guidelines for myself now.  Nothing that is incomplete goes across my desk to the group.  Nothing.  Maybe others can balance doing both at the same time.  Maybe the strict and heavy outliner would be unaffected by feedback on their beginnings.  But I know that I can’t put myself in the position to have to split my brain that way.  I know what I need to make my process work.  An uninterrupted first draft is a must.

Sometimes a tough spot is just a valuable lesson waiting to expose itself.  I actually accomplished something with that hiatus.  Because being keenly aware of my process and the guidelines I need for myself are a must.