I have started writing many children’s books. A few have been finished and they remain hidden in my computer or are tucked in folders on the bottom shelf in my office with all my curriculum materials that I have not given away yet. Good teaching materials – a great place to hide my writing.
But back to the topic at hand – the blank page. Here is the deal – I have lots of good ideas. Maybe even a few great ideas so I begin writing. I get about two maybe three chapters, maybe even 4 chapters in and then I am stuck. I know where I want the story to go. I have a possible ending idea but that middle section just stays blank.
This section of any book holds the twist in the story, the second layer that leads us deeper into the conflict and develops a richer emotional connection to our character/s. It might be a story that runs parallel to our beginning tale. This critical point is where I find my blank pages.
I love my story but I can’t find my way into this middle section. I have done the following
- I have walked away from it hoping the direction would come to me on my long walks.
- I have gone to the wild garden, the setting for this story, and just sat. I was sure it would be there among the trees and wild plants.
- I have gone to work in my garden. I get great veggies that way but no story.
- I have read other children’s books similar to my story hoping for a hint but they have just left me with a feeling that maybe I should quit this writing thing. I have read some great stories lately way better than I can write. (Do you hear that writers doubt yelling at me?)
- I have done some research seeking the key to the puzzle I am in. Maybe I need to read deeper.
- I have quit writing all together. Done – finished, no more of this story it does not have a middle I have decided. It is just a simple story of a family lost, a child struggles and relatives step in, there are a few plants in there someplace and we move on story over.
Except – it is not that simple. Except this story keeps popping up after months of refusing to work on in. Except I want to know what should be on those middle blank pages.
So – do I have an answer for you on how to solve this dilemma? In reality NO. I still don’t have my middle but here is what I am going to try. I am going to just write each day about the characters, the story idea, information I have read while researching, anything that pops into my head that might connect to this story but not try to write the story. I am just going to write and see what comes of a summer of writing. If there is a story there maybe it will find its way out to the clearing at the end of the woods for this story is truly tangled in the weeds and dark corners of a wild garden.
What do you do when you can’t move a story forward? What do you say to your students when they just can’t move on?