I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve started listening to “Writing Excuses,” the weekly podcast featuring Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler and Mary Robinette Kowal. It’s a phenomenal podcast; if you’re a speculative fiction writer like me, go to Episode 1 and start listening through. You won’t regret it. This week I spent a fair bit of time listening to previous podcasts concerning magic systems; Sanderson has several laws that he writes by concerning magic systems, and I found myself going through them again because, as often happens with writers, I had gotten wrapped up in my own self-doubt about my current novel. While I write, I’ve been tweaking my magic system a bit, and I finally realized that six chapters in, I still hadn’t fixed whatever the hell was wrong with it. And I was hesitating to write anything else until I solved my problem. So I listened to Writing Excuses, cleared my head with some exercise, and started scribbling notes. Eventually, I had a brain wave, and discovered that by tweaking my novel’s recent history ever so slightly, the problem with my magic system was solved. That is the most relief I’ve felt so far on this project. I shared it with my friends like this:
Cardio + podcasts + excessive notetaking = Brandon fixing his magic system
With that change in place, I went ahead and wrote 3500 words of fresh manuscript yesterday. Hell yeah.
Why am I rambling about this? Because I am so excited about having fixed this part of my novel, that I have to share it (and because, according to fellow writer Tim Gwyn, just posting the above equation on Twitter isn’t a sufficient story). The point, I think, is that when you’re really stuck on something, take a step back and clear your mind. Listen to some advice from people you respect. Sooner or later, your brain will catch up to where you want it to be.