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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sometimes You Just Have to Keep Grinding

by James L. Rubart

I'm sputtering, and it's been a new experience for me.

I've never had writer's block. Until now. And I can't even call my current state of mind writer's block. It's more like writer's sputter. 

I'm halfway through my 7th novel, and it just isn't flowing like my first six did. When people have asked me how I write, I've always said, "I just sit back, relax, and transcribe the movie playing in my head."

But this time the movie has glitches in it. It stops, starts. Stops again and more often than not, ends in the middle of a scene.

I don't know if this is because I'm out of ideas, or I'm making sure I don't repeat various pet phrases or character types ... whatever the reason, it's made realize for the first time there can be a downside to being a classic Seat-of-the-Pantser.

It's been confusing, frustrating, and illuminating.

The Good that's Come out of It

If you're a fan of golf, you understand the term, Grinder. It describes a pro golfer who doesn't often make the spectacular shot, but they keep plugging away. They're steady. Unflappable. They keep grinding away, believing they'll eventually prevail, and the winning scores will come. (And they do.)

That's me with my current novel. Grinding away. Getting my words in. Not liking a lot of them. But there are nuggets that pop up every now and then. And that gives me hope. At least enough hope to hit the next shot. I've learned to grind, and that's a very good thing.

So if you're grinding away, keep going, the prose will come.  If the words are flowing like water, be grateful.

And to quote old Winston, if you're having a tough time with your current novel, "Never, never, never give up."

James L. Rubart is the best-selling and Christy award winning author of ROOMS, BOOK OF DAYS, THE CHAIR, SOUL’S GATE, MEMORY’S DOOR, and SPIRIT BRIDGE (May ’14). During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing which helps businesses and authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time he dirt bikes, hikes, golfs, takes photos, and occasionally does sleight of hand. No, he doesn’t sleep much. He lives with his amazing wife and two sons in the Pacific Northwest and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at


  1. Been there. Doing that. As a matter of fact. Good post, Jim.

  2. Every time I'm there, it's because I don't fully know one (or more) of the characters' problems. And that 1 character's problem can cause havoc (transcribe conflict) for the protagonist. Rachel Hauck taught me that. The character was not a POV character, but did have an effect on the pro tag's life. Once I figured out his problem, the story zipped along nicely. It's my debut novel, Chapel Springs Revival. :)

    So I always tell everyone to go back to the character interview and look for the problem.

  3. Great encouragement Jim and I like the golf analogy. I'm spending too much in the bushes but getting closer to the hole. I think.

    Bless you, brother.

    1. Sounds like we should go golfing together sometime, Ian!

    2. Let's do that on the way to Well Spring ... one day.

  4. I've been at the same place, Jim. Not much movie playing in my head right now. Glad to even get a scene or two that way. I might have to turn into one of those...heaven forbid...write every day people.

  5. I still say it's worth the panicky moments of grinding to have the exhilaration being a pantser. :) :)


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