On my writer’s blog (EverWriting) I have a category that I have designated as the default: Displacement Activity, a state in which many of us find ourselves when the words refuse to flow or when we are reluctant to let them flow as they will.
I have three novels in the “works in progress” stage. In one case, the manuscript is in typescript. The others are locked in notebooks. All are fully plotted but moving on from plot to complete is proving to be beyond my motivation level at the moment, so I’m engaging in Displacement Activity.
Where I have lacked motivation to write, I have been doing one of the next best things.
This activity is particularly good as an analogy for writing. Here is a ‘plot’ for a planned quilt project. The color scheme is like characterization: we have to have some level of contrast, but at the same time, the colors and fabric patterns must be compatible. Too much contrast leads to clash and discordance. No amount of shifting of sections will make those colors work together.
On the other hand, too little contrast will result in bland, uninteresting projects, not only for the quilter but the ultimate recipient as well.
There are exceptions when the intricacy or the uniqueness of the finished product is the focal point. As in writing, while the whole is critical, the details matter.
Yet, the details often become the narrow focus when moving from plan/plot to process and completion. Planning a project is often the fountain of creativity, the exciting bit for the quilter, and for the writer. Working through the initial impulses to put the project on paper, create the design, the characters, visualizing the story as it unfolds and as the project takes shape.
Sometimes, that stage is the end. The story refuses to move forward; the characters refuse to conform to the needs of the story. What can we do to with all those words and all that effort? When the characters have no conflicting needs, or create no tension because they are utterly sympathetic to one another?
What can we do with the designs that simply won't work, that are too small for the purpose, the amount of fabric you have is inadequate, the print is no longer available in the shop?
Nothing is better for a creative person than the challenge of solving a problem and achieving a beautiful result, however it comes about and whatever level of commitment it requires. As unwelcome as failure is, the amount of experience we gain makes the effort worth more. As Walt Disney enjoined, "Time to stop talking and start doing."