Plateaus. Not Platypuses.

I’m a little bit behind in the page count for the novel this month, mostly due to forgetting my notebook at work for a few days, but I’m catching up and I have no doubt that I’ll get back on the right foot today. The only problem with it so far, though, is that I feel like I’ve plateaued a bit with it. It seems I have this problem at this point of a book in general. I get a first chapter done, or get a sort of introduction going, and then I hit this spot where I feel it’s just kind of boring and dragging and I have to force myself to throw something into it to get it out of that rut, and, sure enough, it starts to get better and back on track. These plateaus are likely parts I’ll be going back and either editing to improve or editing to remove, but it did get me wonder if they’re absolutely inevitable, or if I can work to help avoid them.

I’m sure if I was writing twice as many pages per month, I’d have twice as many plateaus. Sometimes I think they’re probably fairly important: they let the writer know what just isn’t going to work for the story, and the writer can try to get past it as fast as she can into something else that does work, and then take care of the rest later. I feel somewhat bad with just forging ahead and leaving the bad writing in there; I was at one point such a perfectionist about my writing that if I messed up a spelling, I’d insist on tearing out the page and writing it all over again, so just by leaving the parts I don’t like in, I’ve made big progress in that respect. Part of me still feels, though, that I’m leaving this big scar on my creation, that I’m not doing it any justice by leaving in unsatisfactory parts, but that’s when I remind myself that perfection never happens in the first try. Perfection never happens in the second, or the third, or even the fourth and fifth. Perfect never really happens, but you’ll only get closer if you keep trying and trying again.

I’m suddenly reminded of my ballet lessons and recital pieces. Why should writing be any different?

And I guess that’s my random pep talk for the day. Do you feel you reach a lot of plateaus in your writing, where you feel you just keep pushing through a scene you’re not happy with just to get it over and done with and hope there’s something better on the other side of it?

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