A couple of years ago I made a conscious decision to focus on the craft of writing, on the small elements such as word choice, phrasing, sentence structure, rhythm. Back then I felt that I was stronger with larger elements such as character and plot and that I could neglect developing those aspects for a while and still be able to bring them back as needed. I had a flash of worry that at some future date I might lose the ability to generate creative ideas because of this focus away from the large and toward the small, but it was a fleeting concern.
At the beginning of this period I was working on the third in a series of novels, and, having completed the first two, was confident in my ability to finish the third. A few months later I became enraptured by a character that appeared in my semi-daily writing practice blog and dropped the trilogy for a new novel using this character. I worked on this new novel for a little over a year. I had difficulty with it, partly due to an unusual combination of situations and time frames that I sensed I wanted to present, and, as I drew toward the end, discovered that I cannot come up with an ending that I am satisfied with. It’s been on hold now for five, six months.
During the writing of the novel there was no other new work of more than 2,000 words. My writing technique has improved, my ability to write flash fiction has (unintentionally) grown, but it’s now difficult to go beyond 1,000 words with anything that interests me or intrigues me or is up to my standards and expectations of worthiness for continuation.
And when I do, I struggle. The most recent example is a story of 1,600 words that I had push myself on a number of occasions to ‘just write’. I don’t know whether my problem is that my critical abilities and expectations are too tight, too high to allow me to write, or whether my ability to generate characters or situations worthy of longer development has atrophied. It could, of course, be a combination of both, as well as some degree of laziness.