The Oubliette of Writing.

An oubliette is a small dungeon, a hole in the ground a prisoner is dropped into, often never to be retrieved, which is not a good place to be, at all – There is no way out – Many situations can have similar attributes, and writing is no exception.

Working on writing a book is a repetitive exercise, you have to go back over it again and again, writing, editing, polishing, changing, rewriting, re-editing, re-polishing, changing, etc.

Sometimes you’re working so hard on one area of your manuscript that you get bogged down more in the work itself than the storyline. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have done that.

It starts off by staying in those pages for too long. You read them so many times, they become old news to you. You know every line. If you stay there for too long, however, a different sort of problem crops up and you might find yourself trying to deal with the length of something that turns out to be a fault in your perception rather than a fault in your work.

I’ve done that. I have worked on a scene that feels way too long, as though it goes on for too many pages, only to realize that it feels that way simply because I keep reading it over and over again. That’s what I mean by getting bogged down in the work rather than the writing.


I’ve recently been exactly there. The whole “meltdown of plot” distraction, the ripping out threads, the rearranging everything else (multiples times). While all are signs of “much work needed”, after a time they are also symptomatic of “being in there too long”.

Of course, that just adds pressure, so if you’re writing to a schedule, nothing is going to screw you up faster than getting into that sort of oubliette. Not only does it tie you down right there where you are, it stops you from thinking anywhere outside the issues you are dealing with. It’s rather like being trapped in glue.

Realizing it certainly helps. What lifted me out of that trap was first of all some enforced time off, which allowed me to see the situation with a bit more clarity, and secondly, making the decision to step away from that area and work in another section entirely.

That is what I have done. By shifting my focus, I’ve let go of whatever I thought I was dealing with, whether they are real issues or supposed issues, allowing my subconscious to deal with them. Hopefully my inner mind will throw forward some useful ideas when I get back to those pages.

Meanwhile, though, I’m back to getting heaps of work done. Which is the boost I needed and the boost I am so enjoying.

What I’m currently doing is working from the end of the story back, rather than the beginning forward – it’s a whole new area which gives a refreshing change from where my focus has been for such a long time.

It feels good!

Cheers, everyone! Have a great day.



6 thoughts on “The Oubliette of Writing.

  1. winterbayne

    I’m currently stuck working my way through a scene or two. In comes my saving grave the infamous wibble…I’m skipping way ahead to a scene towards the end. Anything to keep the momentum going. The only way I know to help with your issues is to step away work on something else and come back to it. So far, this has helped me. You’ve wrangled it well.

    1. A.D. Everard Post author

      Heck yeah! (And thank you.) 😀 I think that’s something writers find pretty early – if stuck in one place, to work in another place. The biggest advantage is that it allows the writer to move forward again. It’s vital to feel as though you are getting somewhere.

      Because my books are around the 600 page mark, with each running two stories in parallel, moving around anywhere inside there is like moving over to another book. 🙂 If really pushed to, I could also jump over to book 4, which is the next one, or book 5, so there’s plenty of scope. However, this is the one due out in July and working at the other end is proving refreshing enough, so I may as well stay where I need to be. It fits perfectly with the “stepping away” you are referring to, it’s like a new project.

      Cheers! 😀

  2. D. Emery Bunn

    My way of stepping away is sometimes overdosing on procrastination like reading writing blogs, reddit, forums, playing video games, etc. I’m steadily controlling it better in favor of getting some intense editing done (tonight’s success story: knocking out the 2400 word climax scene of the first part of my novel…it’s now 2800+ words).

    I also step away from bursts of editing by writing something completely different. In my case it is editing the dark fantasy Darkness Concealed against writing the cyberpunk Normalization setting of short stories/novellas. On top of genre difference, the style is different as well, allowing for a pretty smooth break between the two, even as I get to try out various ways of improving my prose on either of them.

    1. A.D. Everard Post author

      Hi, D., yes, I’ve certainly done the procrastination method, although I usually hate myself for it because I have nothing to show as an end result. Writing something completely different is a great idea. You also have the benefit of progressing on two projects because, even while one is paused, you know it’s just a step and it will continue when your mind is fresh.

      Another thing I do is use that time to research any area “still lacking”. I feel like I’m doing something “useful” then, something all writers suffer a need for. 😀

      Sounds like you are going great with your own projects. Congrats on your climax scene. It sure feels good when you get an important scene like that done.


  3. writingsprint

    All these posts about writing and the different angles you take to overcome writers block are really inspiring 🙂 — just wanted to say that.

    1. A.D. Everard Post author

      Thank you so much! When I started blogging and I looked around Blogsville, I found that there were plenty of writers out there, lots of advertising and instruction, but not much in the way of ins and outs from a personal perspective. And I don’t mind sharing my weaknesses, fumbles and oubliettes. 😀


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