No, I'm not talking about psychosexual hangups. I'm talking about getting hung up in the details. Anybody else have this problem?

I'm starting a new series, which means I have to come up with new worlds, new characters, from scratch. Every time I start to write, I get a little ways, then am stumped and stopped in my tracks by a question. Like, "What's the favorite late-night cop hangout on Capitol Hill?" That, of course, leads to other questions: What size is a cop's beat on Capitol Hill? Do they always get assigned the same beat? How are officers partnered?

It's fiction, right? That means I get to make it up. Right? Wrong. Verisimilitude demands that I get it as close to reality as I can. So, I get hung up on the details, and don't get any writing done. I spend too much time on the Internet looking things up, or calling SPD's media relations people trying to get answers, or waiting. Waiting for what, I don't know. A sign? A burning bush?

And at the end of the day, after being frozen by inertia and lack of answers, when I've written nothing, I feel guilty. Does anyone just make it up and say, "I'll fix it later."? Does that work?

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Comment by Libby Hellmann on March 24, 2007 at 8:05am
Hi,Mike. Glad to see you here. I get that way a lot. And it stops me. So much of plot derives from what's real that I often HAVE to do the research in order to move forward. RIght now I'm writing about 1970 and a situation in the ER... am waiting for a doc to call me back so I can finish the damn scene. Sometimes, though, I'm able to skip ahead and fill it in later. Not often, but sometimes. I don't feel guilty -- I just feel unproductive.

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