I have a confession. It involves a condition I have.
A rare condition that can potentially be deadly. If you’re a writer.
Maybe I’m not the only one … Do you have Plot-Blindness?*
Plot-Blindess isn’t something that can be self-diagnosed. Unfortunately, you won’t realize you have it until it’s pointed out to you. But don’t fret, rarely – if ever – is it in a sudden and startled, “OMG! You’re plot-blind!” kind of way. No, Plot-Blindness reveals itself quietly over a long period of time – say about the time it takes to write several books, read several books, or watch several movies or t.v. series. It is only actualized when – while writing, reading, and watching – you are regularly exposed to comments such as “I was waiting for the story to begin,” and “Not a lot happened,” and “What was that story supposed to be about?” and you don’t get it. You don’t understand how these people have come to speak those comments, let alone how to go about responding. You never were good at writing summaries for the teacher at school; is nailing down plot the same kind of thing? Your mind just never has worked in a straight line like that. Heck, you can’t even draw a straight line with a pencil. Besides that, you have difficulty identifying main points; pin-pointing inciting incidents; recognizing if something is missing, if there’s a gap. Plot? Plot holes? *shrug* So you keep quiet. And smile a lot. If you are plot-blind you will find ways to hide your condition, all while wondering if you are indeed existing in the same realm as those around you. Perhaps you are not. You do not see as they do.
Being plot-blind you may begin to wonder how you are even capable of reading anything from beginning to end. How you even have the capacity to enjoy an entire film. How you ever make sense of anything. How you ever got anything published. (Like, seriously. How did that even happen?) Plot-Blindness can be quite distressing and once diagnosed, you will experience many emotions, among them being denial, confusion, frustration, anger, and fear. And like any good cycle, these reactions will eventually lead you to stage 6: Seeking a Cure. Once at stage 6, you will madly research ways of replenishing the depleted plot reserves in your system. It will overtake you. It will be your new obsession. But even though you do this, even though you spend hours and hours that equal days that equal weeks that equal years researching, discussing, and reflecting, even when you do find the cure (and you will, many times over) it will all have been in vain. Because you simply cannot grasp and absorb the remedy. It disappears before your plot-blind eyes like boiling water thrown into the frigid air of a polar vortex, turning immediately to a cloudy vapor and disappearing. Your plot-blindness, evidently, is terminal. You will never write again.
Is it really too much work to find another way? Are you that spent, that tired of fighting that you’re prepared to give up? Have you lost your will to write? Will you simply roll over and let your words die? Or will you, like Walter White, get to business and start cooking up some superior new
crystal meth writing mindset and get on with it? No matter the trouble you may face. No matter the extra hard work it will take. No matter what gets in your way, intimidates you, or tries to make you feel weak and incompetent. Face it head on. Focus on what you are skilled at. And use it. It’s a well-known fact that when one sense is lacking, another will compensate. What compensates for Plot-Blindness? Maybe superior word-crafting. Maybe killer dialogue. Maybe kicka** characterization. Maybe fantastic world-building. Maybe a combination of a few. Whatever it is, acknowledge it. Dig in. Focus. And start cookin’.
Get to the final stage.
Stage 7: Acceptance.
Acceptance of Plot-Blindness.*
Acceptance of compensatory strength(s).
Acceptance of a long, hard road ahead.
Acceptance that though something is lacking all is not lost – it can be worked out later. With help. From a professional.
You may always suffer from Plot-Blindness, but Stage 7 brings freedom and confidence, removes barriers, and sets you facing forward.
*Plot-Blindess is my challenge. (Ummm … Kinda huge, right?) You may have a writing challenge of your own that gets you down, makes you want to give up. Don’t let it. Fight it. Work through the stages. Work hard. Start cookin’!