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Writing out of sequence

Earlier this week I started working on my post-apocalyptic comedy book again.  It was the first time in at least six weeks - maybe more - that I had put in any legitimate amount of work.

For awhile I've been stuck, and I haven't been shy about complaining about it.  I think I could very well still be stuck today, except that I decided to go back and work my way through the book in sequence.  This helped a lot more than I expected.

I rarely write in sequence.  Usually the way it works is I put together a formal outline, I write a few chapters at the beginning to flesh it out and get a feel for the tone, then I skip to the end, and then I just start dancing around at random until I have about 2/3 of the story in place with a bunch of weird pockets in between.  From there, I dive into the story and fill in the gaps based on whatever interests me most that day.

Sometimes this approach really hurts.  If I haven't put together a proper outline, it definitely does.  I shot myself in the foot with I Need a Job many times and had to spend a significant amount of time revising the story just to ensure basic continuity.

Most of the time, writing out of sequence is a huge help for me.  I almost never feel like I'm stuck because I can just shrug and say, "Oh, well, I'll move to something else."

But this post-apocalyptic book... man, I can't think of another story that's been harder for me to focus on.

I sat down to work on the climactic actiony scene.  I got stuck.  I said, "Okay, I'll move on to the moment of despair before that."  I got stuck.  I said, "Okay, I'll move back earlier."  Wasn't happening.  "Okay, let's try the climax again."  Nope, still not feeling it.

Then this week I was like, "Whatever, I'll just go to the first part of the story where there's a gap."  I hate to word it this way, but it's among the least interesting parts - mostly a logistical sequence to get people in the right places.  Hardly the sort of thing that I'm dying to write.

...and it made me the most productive I've been in ages.  Strange.  It's like going back to the beginning allowed me to reset and get a better feel for what I'm trying to write.

I'm sure there's a lesson here somewhere.  Damned if I've learned it.