Ironing, Oak Apples and Editing or, How I Survived A Writing Wobble

I had a bit of a writing wobble earlier this week.

I’ve just begun editing Under Stone, the fourth book in my Ambeth series. It recently returned from a professional edit, and so I was taking suggestions and beta read comments on board, polishing the final crevices and tidying up punctuation and prose, ready to go to the next stage.

At least, that’s what I was supposed to be doing.

But something wasn’t right. Even my groaning ironing basket held more allure than playing with words. Even though it’s what I love to do. I mean, editing isn’t my favourite part of the process but there is still something immensely satisfying in taking a book through the final stages before publication, seeing the changes from rough first draft to the end product. So I was ready, I thought.

But I just couldn’t find the thread. The story thread. The Ambeth thread. Whenever I step into that world the voices are clear, the images sharp. I know all of the characters intimately, their backstory, what drives them, where they are going. But, for some reason, they seemed a little… distant. As did the world of Ambeth – the gardens, the Palace, the sighing sea, all felt as though I were viewing them through the wrong end of a telescope.

And so I had a wobble.

After all, it’s been a while since my last Ambeth book, Hills and Valleys, came out. Since then, I’ve published A Thousand Rooms, my standalone women’s fiction novel, as well as almost finished the first draft of Silver and Black, another standalone work. I’ve also started a new job which is taking quite a bit of my time. So I was worried. What if the story, the wonderful story that started me writing, words pouring out of me, had decided to, well, get up and leave? I mean, I had been working on Ambeth – Under Stone was quite a complex book to write as so many threads from the first three books came together, many of them to be resolved in this book. So it was only a couple of months since I’d last visited. But still – it had been a while.

And I couldn’t find my way back into the story.

So instead I fell into a wormhole of sadness and despair. But, after a pep talk from a lovely writerly friend and a good night’s sleep, I decided to approach things from a different angle. Instead of editing, I decided simply to read the story again. And, it seemed to help. A piece of music I associate with the books started playing in my head, and carefully, slowly, I started to wander back into the woods. I’m not all the way there yet but, thanks to music and oak apples and reading and thought, I think I might get through the Gate again.

And that ironing basket isn’t looking so interesting any more…

If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,Β  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

35 thoughts on “Ironing, Oak Apples and Editing or, How I Survived A Writing Wobble

  1. Sometimes you just have to go away and do other things and be patient. I frequently feel very much the same, and then I have to either write something new or go for a walk or just leave the whole thing be for a while.

    • Thanks, Mick. Now that I’ve just started reading, rather than editing, I’m finding the flow again. It was quite a stressful evening though! πŸ™‚ The trials of writing, hey?

  2. You write as naturally as you breathe Helen and some days it’s easier to breathe than others! You will flow back naturally and maybe just needed to do something else for a wee while. Hugs xX

    • Aw, Jane, that’s so lovely of you to say πŸ™‚ I think I’m finding my way back but I’m trying not to rush things, just going with the flow, as you say. Thank you for your support xx

  3. I’ve had the same feeling and re-reading is a great way to get back into the story. I’m sure with everything else going on in your life and all the other projects in between, you’ve just lost the thread of your story. I’m sure it will all come back and you can continue your wonderful books! Best wishes. xx πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much, Louise πŸ™‚ It’s been reassuring to hear that this is quite a normal thing. I haven’t had this long a break from the Ambeth books since I started writing them, so it was a bit of a shock! However, the re-reading is definitely helping and the stories coming closer again. xx

  4. I’ve had that issue too! I often find I have to re-read my story from the beginning to even be able to get back into writing it. I have a couple of them like that right now… Glad you got un-wobbled!

    • Still un-wobbling… but getting a lot better – might make that NaNo goal yet! Thank you, it’s good to know this is all perfectly normal and I’m not alone πŸ™‚ Still sad I won’t get to see you next month, hope your travels are going well x

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