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In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott says: “There are few experiences as depressing as that anxious barren state known as writer’s block, where you sit staring at your blank page like a cadaver, feeling your mind congeal, feeling your talent run down your leg and into your sock.”

I would call what I’ve been experiencing writer’s reluctance rather than writer’s block, where every thought of the task that lay ahead of me was accompanied by a loud and phlegmy “Ugh!” 

I don’t want to write a synopsis.

I don’t feel like writing a synopsis.

Why do I have to write a synopsis?


According to the publisher’s guidelines, I can’t submit my manuscript without it. Bah! Humbug!

I know what a synopsis is, and I have written one, at one time or another, but UGH!!! After putting it off for as long as possible, picking up dog poo and flossing my teeth (not with the dog poo and yes, I did wash my hands!), I decided to start by checking the internet for “how to write a synopsis”, quite sure that somebody had penned a helpful blog or article. And I wasn’t disappointed. Literary agent Nathan Bransford has a humorous blog post along with tips on tackling the writing of a synopsis. Fiction Writer’s Connection and Marg Gilks also have articles on the topic.

I summarized their steps and tips but, Ugh, I still couldn’t settle down to write it. The monstrous task of paring down 65,000 words and plot twists and turns into only a few pages overwhelmed me. Ack!

Super K to the rescue!  [info]kellyrfineman  How fortunate I am to have a writing buddy who has a big stick! and  more confidence delusions in my abilities than I have. She also possesses the ever calming disposition needed to talk a lunatic somebody down from the ledge.
“Here, I’ll do it,” Kelly, who has only actually read the first 10 pages of my manuscript, said. “It’ll be crap but it’ll get you rolling.” And like magic, she jotted down the beginnings of a synopsis for me.

This indeed got me rolling and once I got started, the rest kind of fell into place. It still needed tweaking and adjusting but with considerably fewer complaints on my part.

And so, I believe, writer’s reluctance dovetails with writer’s block – sometimes all you need is a beginning, somebody or something to help you get rolling. Once you do get going, hobbling along, falling down, dragging yourself back up again, you eventually get there.

And I did.

And I feel great.

Today, I cranked out a synopsis for another of my manuscripts and the process was a lot less painful and a hell of a lot quicker.

Soon I’ll be a synopsis fiend!


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 26th, 2010 03:53 am (UTC)
Yes - it gets easier the more you practice, just like anything. I used to hate them, but now, I actually like doing them. I don't really outline, so a synopsis helps me figure out the major parts of the story. Plus, if I want to writing something specifically for an editor I've worked for, it's much less time consuming to do a couple sample chapters and a synopsis rather than write the whole thing, only to be rejected.
Feb. 26th, 2010 12:36 pm (UTC)
I haven't quite reached the "like" stage but they are growing on me.
A synopsis is a good revision tool too, especially if you don't write from an outline. You get an overall impression of what works and which parts don't quite fit as well as you thought, within your story. I found an area that needed clarifying and some points that I hadn't considered until I was writing the synopsis.
Feb. 26th, 2010 12:56 pm (UTC)
Writing a synopsis is hard. It makes me very cranky, too, and I don't know that I've ever met a writer who didn't do it without major grumbling. Yay for Kelly for getting you started and you for keeping it rolling! They must be done, you're right, so I'm glad for this happy ending!
Mar. 1st, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
Me, too! And I'm going to try not to grumble quite so much next time. Or Kelly will get out her big stick again.
Feb. 27th, 2010 04:40 am (UTC)
Big stick, indeed. I could have used one yesterday, when you had your cranky pants on, but in the end, you kicked that synopsis's ass all on your ownsome.

And I think you're right - it's all in the getting started. I've put off lots of tasks (writing-wise and otherwise) that become Mount Kilimanjaro in my mind, only to finally start up them and find out they barely qualified as speed bumps in real life.

P.S. Just saw an ad on TV for South Africa. How cool is that?
Mar. 1st, 2010 02:45 pm (UTC)
I WAS super cranky on Friday. Talk about Mt. Kilimanjaro in a teacup - yes, I purposely mixed my cliches/metaphors - I'm having that kind of day.
All this Africa talk has that Toto song buzzing around in my head competing with the Rolling Stones' "I can't get no satisfaction." Finishing off with Monday, Monday. Who's your Mama? And who's had too much coffee?

Mar. 1st, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC)
Who's your Mama?!
At least you appear not to be singing that you wanna "shoo -oo -oo -oo -oot the whole day down".
Mar. 9th, 2010 01:44 am (UTC)
I've popped over from (the fantastic) Kelly's LJ to say that I LOVE this term "writer's reluctance." Soooooo accurate. Great thoughts. :)
Mar. 9th, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
It's lovely to meet you and thank you for popping over.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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