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Help! I'm stalled and I can't get re-started

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Dear Authors:

I have been writing a story that I've been stalled on for over a year. Broken is at a stage where it is very, very difficult... to write. To let other people read... argh.

It's hard to explain. I wrote Broken as therapy for some old wounds that never healed right. It's different from most stories here in that its autobiographical.

There is some difficult stuff to face in it. In the chapters to come, it only gets worse. I've got to make myself very, very vulnerable to release it. I go from being a nice kid in a bad situation to being worse than the thugs that I had to deal with.

Anyway- I wanted to step back and get some perspective. How do you guys deal when the story/writing gets too personal? Is it a catharsis that you simply must go through?

Your thoughts are welcome.




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I'm certainly no expert, but I might suggest you look really deeply at what is giving you the trouble. Think about it and identify the crux of the issue that's bothering you. Is it actually facing what happened? Is it letting other people know what you did? Is it reliving what you went through? If you can really identify where the angst comes from, maybe it would be easier to deal with it.

If you hate the idea of revealing terribly private things you're ashamed of, but want to write them down, do so with the understanding that you're not going to let anyone else read them. That way you may gain the cartharsis you're looking for, you've completely bared your soul to the printed page and gotten the demons out of your memory, yet you keep what needs to be private, private.

I've read Broken. It's difficult reading. Great writing, difficult to read. Must have been much worse to live through. You've shown lots of courage writing what you have.


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I haven't read Broken. So, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. Hell, if I'd read it, I might not know what I'm talking about either.

Is the person you would be writing about you? The YOU that is in the NOW? If not, then you are writing about history. Personal history, but history nonetheless. It's done. It's over. You have graduated to a new life. You can deal with it. On the other hand, if you are writing about someone who is still that same person, but one who is looking to make a change, there could be agony waiting for you.

I haven't written much, but everything I have written has been in a sea of tears. I am continually going through a change in my attitude, feelings, and life as I write. The words are opening up wounds and letting out the pus the has festered, that I have suppressed, that I have ignored, that I have hidden, even from myself. The relief I feel at letting this out, despite the pain of writing it, is wonderful. Yes, it is painful as hell, and yes, I will continue to let myself heal in this way.

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Hey Mr. Savik,

When writing about my own personal history, I found it so over-whelming and uncomfortable, that I had to

create an entire new persona, just so I could write the words on paper. Thus, Jason Rimbaud was born. I'm

not saying everything I write is personal, but the parts that did happen, it helped to write from the perspective of a "fictional" character. Maybe something that helped me will not work for you, but then again, transference is a powerful thing. (and if that word is spelled wrong, I'm sorry.)

Another thing that helped me, when I did write all those personal things, I made sure to use dramatic license, after all, real life can not compare to a great story. And after reading just some of the replies in the

forum section, you have that knack of great writing.

Maybe all you need is a fresh perspective, try reading back your story "Broken" as if you are a first time reader. Take away the emotion and history, you might get a better feel for what you have accomplished.

At least, that's my thought. I could be wrong, and probably am.

Jason R.

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I sympathieze with you very much, James. As a writer, you have to be sensitive to the way people speak, the subtleties and nuances in their actions, and observe life a lot closer than most people. That sensitivity also opens you up to the potential of being hurt.

Writing fiction does make you very vulnerable, because you're putting your heart on the page (or, maybe more accurately, your brain on the page). When people criticize it, they may seem to be criticizing the very core of what makes you you. For this reason, writing requires some degree of bravery, as well as having confidence in what you're doing.

And to echo Cole: some of the best writers who ever lived came out of horribly depressing lives, miserable childhoods, abject poverty, among all kinds of trials and tribulations. Maybe it's because of their trauma that they were able to write as well as they did. As rock critic/writer Lester Bangs advised the fledgling Cameron Crowe in Almost Famous: (paraphrasing) "The cool people in the world don't create great art. It's the uncool people, guys like you and me who are trying to get laid, who create the art out of despair and desperation." So great writing can come out of a terrible tragedy, an awful trauma, or a painful memory.

But I agree with what Trab says above. Use the writing as a catharsis to exorcise the demons. Don't worry about what's happened in the past; get on with your life and concentrate on the good things you have. Maybe by writing the story, you can move past the experience. And nobody ever has to know how much of the story was true, and how much is complete fiction. Don't feel the need to tell exactly what happened; put a dramatic spin on it that makes it a better story.

I will try to take time this weekend to read Broken, and I look forward to it. My advice would be, don't hold back: get the whole thing out of your system, and keep moving forward. (Jesus, do I sound like Paula Abdul or what?) :icon_geek: Sincerely, hang in there.

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  • 2 weeks later...

After a great deal of thought, I'm going to leave Broken alone... at least for a few more months.

What I will do is continue the sci-fi thing I have on the back-burner called Operation Hammerhead. It's fun and has a lot of potential. It can get me back in the saddle without jumping off the deep end.

Thanks for your input!


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  • 4 weeks later...
After a great deal of thought, I'm going to leave Broken alone... at least for a few more months.

It won't go away, and you can't finish 'mending' until you've got it out of your system. That doesn't mean you have to publish what you've written ... but you should finish writing it.


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