The Writing Wall Or How Plotting Is Like Cleaning Tape Off Of A Whiteboard (part two)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
When I left you at the end of last week's post, I was downtrodden, bruised, beaten, and in the lurch. But I stand--ahem sit--before you today a changed--well, slightly less useless--individual.

How did I crawl up and over my Writing Wall? What the heck does cleaning tape off a whiteboard have to do with any of this? Why am I asking so many questions?

Why, for dramatic purposes, of course! ;)

First, I'll tell you The Writing Wall I hit was a good one. I was creatively stumped. I stewed for hours, then days, trying to make something happen. It didn't, of course. Not on its own. So, I ventured into my office (where I sometimes write) and started pulling out the tricks of the trade. Notebooks, pencils, post-its, index cards, markers, highlighters (all of the above in varying colors), poster board, dry erase markers, and a whiteboard.

For those of you quick on the uptake, THIS is where the whiteboard comes into play.

Standing there, above all my favorite toys (yes, I'm dead serious here, I love my office supplies) I notice that damn tape was still marring three quarters of my new, large and lovely whiteboard. I pushed it aside, determined to stick to a notebook and poster board. (By the way, I do have two other whiteboards, but they are currently occupied with other projects, thus, no erasing will happen until said projects land on the page.) I tried working through these issues, I tried walking away, ignoring the plotting problem, tried figuring it out in the shower or letting my dreams take over (both of which usually work). This time, nothing was working.

My plot was stuck and so was my brain.

After ambling around for a few more days, I decided cleaning off the whiteboard might be my best option. I had convinced myself that if I had a whiteboard, so much miracle-ing would happen.

Yes, I make up words. All the time. Judge me not, least ye be judged -Yoda. (though I'm about a thousand percent sure he never said that. Just roll with the punches here, people.)

Moving on . . .

While I grabbed a scraping tool from my garage and went to work, I was struck by how tenacious I was about getting that damn tape off. Little by little, it was all coming together. Tape was peeling off in tiny strips and chunks, and my mind was working, behind the scenes and above the cursing. I worked as hard as I could, fighting through some of the really sticky patches, and in less than an hour and a half (no lie), the board was free of tape!

I did my little Snoopy dance, spiked the ball of tape into the garbage, and started plotting.

The funny part, I only wrote two plot points on the board before switching to a notebook and writing page after page each day.

A few more days later I realized it hadn't been the whiteboard that I'd needed, it was working on something else for a while. Again, I didn't get anywhere sitting on the couch and waiting for some TV show to do it for me, instead I worked very hard, in silence, on another task, refusing to give up.

The in silence part turned out to be very important.

While I was scraping, my thoughts kept coming back to my characters and the difficult places (both emotionally and physically) where I had left them. How did they feel inside? What would they do to change things? What would they give up to move forward? So, by the time the tape was gone, my creative juices were a roaring river of Peach Iced Tea. Why Peach? Because it's awesome, that's why!

It's been a few weeks since The Whiteboard Incident of 2013. I have more of my plot down, and I've even started putting words to the page again. I may not be moving as fast as I'd like, but I'm starting to realize this book is going to take a lot of time.

So, there you have it. Stepping away, but still working hard helped me fight my way up and over that Writing Wall. Plus I got a brand new whiteboard. Though, and pay attention because this is the real punchline, after spending all that time and effort scraping away on my whiteboard, the tape left a tacky residue that I can write on, but NOT ERASE. Basically, I could have left the damn tape right where it was, around the inside corners of the board, because I wouldn't have been able to write on that part of the board anyway.

The ultimate headdesk? Yes, I do believe so, but that still doesn't change the fact that focusing on that medial task helped me out of The Pits of Writing Despair (cue ominous echo) and reminded me that there is no substitute for hard work.

This concludes today's program. Thanks for coming back. And please, feel free to laugh at my idiocy in the comments. My ego doesn't bruise too easily. :)


  1. Liza said...:

    You know, I'd like to see a picture of your whiteboard with a past project or an example with an old classic like Jane Eyre. It just seems like a neat idea I'd like to incorporate one day.

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