Sunday, November 03, 2019

When Something Goes Wrong In the Writing Process

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

From my experience in publishing, there are many tests and trials in the process. You plan things and then those things don't happen or go off kilter or break or many other possibilities. As I see it, there are two tests in this process—the one on the surface and then the real rest of how you handle this situation.

Last week I began working with an author on writing his book. He came into town from across the country and we spent two days together working on gathering the stories and contents of his book. The work was interesting and I believe a fascinating book will result from those hours of working together. From my experience, something always goes wrong in this creative process—always. Now I tend to forget that this happens (also part of the process) and it always catches me by surprise.

For years when I work with someone to interview them, I record it. I have an old fashion tape recorder and use real tapes (hard to find these days but possible). I have used my recorder over and over in this process and set it up. After several hours of interviewing and storytelling, I decided to listen to the tapes. To my shock, nothing was on it. My author took ear phone and listened to the tapes. Again he heard nothing. Hours of work was gone on these empty tapes. We were stunned yet came up with another way to record the stories and continued working inspite of the missing tapes. We worked through the rest of the outline and spent about 12 hours together in this process.

Besides this recording fiasco, the local weather was also a challenge: a snow storm dropping several inches of fresh snow. Tired from a day of interviewing, I cleared the windows of my car and drove carefully home. Grateful to have this time with the author for storytelling. He was flying home early the next morning.

When I got home, the next day, I have a different tape recorder and decided to test my recorded interview tapes (several of them). To my surprise, two of the three tapes had recordings. Hours of work was on the tape. I called my author to tell him and could hear the relief in his voice with this news. We worked together on the phone later in the week to redo the missing stories. I have the bulk of the contents and stories needed for this book project.

I wrote these details to show you the types of challenges that happen when you work on a writing project. Your experiences may be different but I suspect you will have something to overcome each time in the process. Do you let it derail and stop your work or do you figure out another means to get it done? How you handle this choice will be the difference between getting it done or not; completing the project or not.

When you work on a writing project, do you have these types of things happen to you? How do you handle it? Let me know in the comments below.


Does something derail you in the writing process? How do you get around the difficulty?  Get insights from this prolific writer.  (ClickToTweet)

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