Brick Walls and Critical Mass

In which I look at my method of writing. . . if you can call it a method.

I usually start a book with a general idea of character and plot. I don’t make notes or do character interviews. I have an idea of where the story starts, where it’s going and how it will end. Everything else I just let happen. It’s not the most efficient way to write, but it works for me. Especially once I’ve passed the brick wall and hit critical mass.

Brick wall? It’s my term for that part of your novel that is so awful to get through that you don’t think you can continue at all. I’ve hit the wall in every one of my books.[term]=brick%20wall&filters[primary]=images
Photo by just-in-sane at Photobucket (Click to find)
The wall is too tall to climb over, too wide to go around, and its foundation extends too deeply to tunnel under. The only way to get past the brick wall is through it, brick by brick, prying and chiseling out  each individual stone until your fingers are bloody, your skin is raw, and you can’t catch your breath any longer. You’re sweaty, and dirty, and exhausted. You can’t see the other side, all the progress you’ve made until this point has been futile, and your soul is crying for you to give up. Well, that’s my metaphor anyway. There is always some point in the book where I just want to throw it away and never look at it again, but I keep going. You have to keep going.

Because by now I know that just beyond that brick wall is the critical mass. It’s that point in my novel where enough of the story is done that the weight of what’s written overpowers what’s yet to write, and the novel won’t stop writing itself. Just like a boulder rolling downhill. It starts slowly, sometimes seeming to falter, then suddenly it gathers enough speed that nothing will stop it until it reaches the bottom and comes to a rest.

Reaching critical mass is my favorite part of writing. I reach a point where I want to see how it ends. Okay, I know how it ends since I’m the author, but it’s more fun to see it on paper than in my head. There’s something so concrete, so uplifting, about finishing a manuscript. I don’t care if the novel is dreck; the dang thing is finished. It doesn’t mean the writing is done. Oh, no, for then comes revising and polishing and fixing, but in my opinion, which I’m allowed to express here because this is my blog, working on something that already exists is easier than fixing an empty page.

A completed manuscript in any form is an accomplishment. It’s an amazing feat, whether it’s your first book or your thirty-first. You wrote a book. You just have to get keep going, especially when you hit that wall.


Books I’m reading now:

Obsession by Jennifer Armentrout

Eyes Turned Skyward by Rebecca Yarros