I’m starting to learn that my writing process needs to include scheduled breaks for existential crises. *g*
More specifically, I seem to hit a point in every project longer than about 10K words when I have no idea where it’s going next and have halfway decided that the story I’m telling is not the story I want to tell. This is true even if I have a detailed outline to work from. There seem to be two major places where this happens — at about the 1/3 point, and at about the halfway point (or a little past it).
This doesn’t happen to me when I write fanfic. But it happens almost every time when I’m working on original fiction. I think it’s a side effect of getting to know the characters as I write the book. I might start off with a clear idea of where I’m headed, but as I work my way through the first 20K or 30K words and get a better feeling for who the characters are, there’s a growing sense that where I’m going might not be where I need to go. So I have to stop and reassess it, sometimes going so far as to write an in-depth summary of what I’ve written so far, sometimes just letting it sit for a little while and going back to it with new eyes.
The current major project is an m/m novel that I’m hoping to be able to submit early next year. But now I’m getting that familiar sinking feeling that the project might be curving on a tangent that’s taking it increasingly far away from where it actually needs to go, and maybe I should back off a bit, look at it from a distance, and see if I can figure out if it needs to change direction.
The interesting thing is that, even though it usually feels like EVERYTHING HAS TO CHANGE!, I generally end up going back to something pretty close to the original plan. I’ll spend a day or two absolutely convinced that my characters need to switch from baristas in Illinois to butterfly hunters in the Amazon (or, you know, whatever) in order to do justice to their story, and then I’ll realize that, no, all I have to do is shift around these two minor scenes and hey, back on track again! It’s not usually a major direction change that I need, more like a minor course correction.