Fan Girl Friday – when you get unstuck

Hi everyone!  I hope you’re all enjoying my guests on Fan Girl Friday!  They’ve all been wonderful so far and there’s more fabulous authors coming up in the weeks ahead.

So, on to today’s post.  Because I’m at the tail-end of my current book (due Monday) I didn’t have to look far for today’s inspiration: the wonderful joy of getting unstuck when you hit a wall.  Okay, so it’s not a place or a product or a shiny thing you can stroke but it is something I am a HUGE fan of.  Let me explain…

this wall... I hit it

this wall… I hit it

I’ve been writing my current book since October and I was steaming along quite nicely up until Christmas.  I had around 5K to go and had spent a few nights writing around 2K. I was enthused, I loved my characters, the story was good, I was on a roll.

And then I hit that wall.  I got distracted by Christmas, by a brand-new Doctor Who DVD, by my son’s obsession with watching back-to-back Horrible Histories episodes.  I suddenly lost all enthusiasm for my story.  Every other project on my computer held more attraction, including rearranging my iTunes playlists (what the hell?) and cutting out old recipes from Super Food Ideas.  I honestly had no idea why I’d lost the love, but with the deadline penciled in angry red on my calendar, I had to do something.

sorry, Eric - you'll have to wait for another story...

sorry, Eric – you’ll have to wait for another story…

The first thing I looked at was my characters.  I loved everything about AJ, my heroine – she was feisty, straight forward, determined. She had a purpose, she had a goal and she was actively going for it.  I also loved my hero – he was driven, smart, attractive. He was a doctor, for heavens’ sakes, and I’d already picked out some gorgeous photos of Eric Dane (Dr Mark Sloan in Gray’s Anatomy) as my inspiration.  His name, however, turned out to be a problem.   I still really like ‘Mitch’ as a hero’s name, but it had always reminded me of a particularly awful boy at my son’s school.  Bad mistake.  So Mitch had to go.  But who to replace him with?  Well, thanks to my son’s holiday viewing habits, I’d been watching A LOT of television and I’d decided to base my hero’s looks on one of the show’s actors.  And give him his name.  And basically make him my poster boy.

And by changing those things, it meant all sorts of other add-on considerations.  I had to change his hair and eye color, hair length and texture, eye shape.  Face and nose shape.  Physique.  Even the way he dressed.  He had to dress like a Matthew, not a Mitch.  He had to walk and talk and command himself as this new person, not the old one, and with a background that fitted him.  Thankfully, those changes were relatively minor and easily fixed.  Mitch (the awful boy) had morphed into Matt (the gorgeous, dreamy-eyed doctor) and I was thrilled.

And because my hero had changed, I had to look at my choice of  writing music.

Some writers like total silence when they write.  Some listen to classical.  Some make playlists to suit the tone of their story. Now, as I write during the day at a public library, I don’t have the luxury of silence 🙂 so I got myself a good set of noise-cancelling headphones and some music to write by.  I have a standard ‘writing’ playlist on my iPod that I’ve used for the last three books, but this one was obviously not going to get written using my standard list.

This book had a slightly angsty feel to it, a bit alternative, acoustic and romantic.  So I went through my entire iTunes library (5000 of them!) and checked out some recommendations and came up with… a hours’ worth of writing music.  Yep, one whole hour.  I couldn’t use any from a prior playlist, and I had to match songs that complemented each other, that flowed well and were in keeping with my brand new hero.  Here’s what I ended up with (okay, you may not have heard of most of these bands.  That’s okay.  You should check them out anyway!):

  • penny flanaganDog Ears – The Howling
  • Dog Ears – Like Rain
  • Dog Ears – Mrs Winchester
  • Dog Ears – Onwards Onwards
  • Penny Flanagan – When You Were Mine
  • Penny Flanagan – Inseparable
  • Penny Flanagan – Common Heart
  • Penny Flanagan – Swallow Me
  • Penny Flanagan – Lap It Up
  • Penny Flanagan – Dig
  • Bic Runga – Drive
  • dog earsThe Unwinding Hours – Solstice
  • My Latest Novel – I Declare a Ceasefire
  • Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars
  • Owl City – Meteor Shower
  • Snow Patrol – Just Say Yes
  • Grovesnor – Dan

I can’t tell you how much I LOVE these songs.  I get little chills every time I hear them, even after a hundred-plus repeats!

The last thing I did was talk out my story with a writer.  Thanks to the wonderful Keziah Hill who offered up some great suggestions for a new scene I needed (but was clueless about)!

So, with those three things – hero, music, scene issues – I got finally unstuck and powered through the last 4K.  I AM SO HAPPY!!  And after I do just one more proofread, my hot doctor story is away!

Have you ever come unstuck?  And what do you do to fix it?  Would love to hear your suggestions and advice!

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