Friday, January 13, 2012

The Puzzle I Can Solve vs. the Puzzle I Can't

I won!! Small victories. So this is what I do when I don't write. I put the headphones on and soak up news and politics while I save the world one Free Cell game at a time.

Why do I waste my time doing this when I feel blocked as a writer?

Easy puzzles. Humans need easy problems to solve every once in a while to keep us from becoming overly frustrated with the puzzles we can't solve.

I'm proud to say that I reviewed and line-edited over 100 pages in my WIP last night, staying up past midnight to do it. It's been a long time since I've done anything so committed to my own writing. But 100 pages is where I hit the invisible wall between where I originally started my story and where it joins with the new 100-page beginning. It doesn't quite mesh like a whole book should, and this has been my great writing puzzle... for a long time.

I haven't even tried to solve it lately because it's so daunting. How do I mesh subtle paranormal world-building discrepancies like how her empathic powers manifest? Because it's a subtle difference, it's noticeable to a reader but really, really hard to edit through. Like if I'd changed somebody's eye-color and had to go through the entire manuscript to make sure there are no more hazel eyes. But at least with that I could do a ctrl-F search-and-destroy for 'hazel.' As it is, I have to go through my manuscript with a fine-tooth comb and try to solve all the other discrepancies I'm sure to find along the way. Sometimes I think I should just rewrite the second half entirely because of what seemed like subtle changes in the new beginning. You've heard the metaphor about the switch at the train tracks. Such a little change of motion, flipping that switch. And yet... the train can end up in a whole new destination miles and miles from where it meant to go.

Which brings me to Free Cell. See the problem, fix the problem. Easy. Fulfilling? Not as much so as finishing a book you can be proud of, but it provides a sliver of fulfillment, yeah. :)

Where do you turn when you need an easy puzzle to banish temporarily the trickier ones?


  1. Oooh, I had the same problem, Katrina, and I did end up making the decision to completely rewrite. It didn't mean everything was different, but even when a scene fundamentally stayed the same, I retyped it. I found doing it that way helped me to stay consistent with voice and the worldbuilding tidbits I added. So if you decide that's the best course of action for your story, I'm cheering you on! (And I still can't wait to read it someday, of course.)

    When I'm stuck, I tend to dig out my favorite video games, the ones I've played through dozens of times. It makes me feel pretty powerful to beat up all the bad guys so easily! :)

  2. Yes, Becky! You totally get me. I think I will rewrite the second half... or start a new book. It's a toss up. :)

  3. LOL, this is why I don't play Solitaire. Sometimes it just can't be won. I hate that.

    And sometimes, sometimes, starting over from scratch is the only thing that will clear up those problems that are so hard to see when you're too familiar with the work. Last resort, but it's better than beating your head against a wall, if that's how you're feeling now.

    Good luck!

  4. If we ever have a national free cell emergency I hope the president calls you :) I like to play games on my iphone when I get writers block. Where's my Water is my fav--now if they would only get more levels.

  5. Tere, very profound! Thank you!

    Angie, LOL. Your comment made me laugh out loud. And I'll have to look up Where's my Water. That's a new one for me!


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