View Full Version : Staying on Target
July 10th, 2002, 12:15 PM
There are a great number of obstacles associated with being an amateur writer. The one I often have the most trouble with is staying with one project.
Last night I was surfing through my "stories" directory and found the number of initiated stories was staggering. I must have over a hundred novels in there - with only the first five to twenty pages written. The problem is that I start something - work on it for a few hours here and there - and then a week later I'm inspired by something else, and I'm back on page one.
From the discussions I've had with other authors this isn't an uncommon problem. My question is what do you do to keep yourself on track? How do you finish what you start?
For all we know the universe could cease to exist at any mo
July 10th, 2002, 12:43 PM
I often start something then get a 'better' idea half way through.
I started 2 books a couple of years ago, but i was then inspired to and finally wrote a full 107,000 word fantasy novel.
i then decided i didnt like it so i stopped editing after a day.
Now i have what i would consider one of my best ideas for a novel, and the one that i think would intrest the publishers as well as just myself.
However, i have thought up another idea that i am just dying to start. i have written down the plot details etc, and i am forcing myself to keep my attention on my current novel.
all you have to do is have determination to finish. if you cant finish one now, what makes you think you will be able to finish 10 in the future?
July 10th, 2002, 01:58 PM
MikeWrite -- First of all, pat yourself on the back for finishing your fantasy novel. That's a huge accomplishment. Next -- realize that editing is, for some/most of us, a much more arduous and challenging task than writing. In my case, the book took 4 years to draft and ANOTHER 4 years to edit. That might seem excessive, but I believed in the story and wanted the writing to be as interesting as the plot.
1. give it to a friend, talk it through, figure out what works and what doesn't
2. write a synopsis, examine the relevance of every episode to the core plot, and then judge whether its worth editing.
Last -- ANYONE who writes the words "the end" is a total hero; but it's where the real work usually begins.
July 10th, 2002, 04:08 PM
So you have a lot of ideas, huh?...
That means you are a writer. ;)
But you can't let your self be carried away by the ideas, or you'll never finish anything. When a new idea comes, think about how you can fit it in your ongoing story. And, if you can't, then don't use it; note it down somewhere for "later use". But try to be focused on your current story; think about it, the alternate plot-lines, the characters, the world. And never write something else in the middle of an ongoing story; stay focused.
July 10th, 2002, 07:35 PM
Set yourself a rule that you *never* write anything you don't finish.
If you get bored with what you're writing, examine why. Then do something to make it interesting again--throw in a plot twist, turn up the angst on the characters, pick up the plot thread you left dangling forty pages back. Make things harder. It's very hard for me to abandon a story when the character has something he desperately needs to do, and can't.
If you get an idea for something else, write down everything you know about the idea in a spare notebook, and put it in a drawer. If necessary, lock the drawer. Don't open it again until you're finished with what you're writing.
The biggest problem I have with staying on track is the gap between the "ideal" of the story that exists in my mind before I write it, and the reality of the story as I write it. The story I write never holds up quite as well in my mind--but the *new* story in my head will, I always manage to convince myself. You have to learn to accept that no matter what you write, it won't turn out the way you envision it.
July 10th, 2002, 08:55 PM
This is the point where you have to look at yourself in the mirror, do a Leyton Hewitt and shout at yourself to 'C'mon'. I thought it was impossible to write a book until I made myself sit down and do it. In a month and a half I had sixty thousand words, though it was complete and utter crap as all my writing is, but I did it.
You have to force yourself in a way, but it is a good thing to do if you like to write. I forced myself to excercise a month ago and in that time I have dropped twenty kilos, while eating more than ever. God I hope I don't have some debilatating disease.
You have to take a stand against your own destructive tendancies.
July 10th, 2002, 11:52 PM
You can also do what I do. Once, I saw that my backlog of writing ideas/ concepts were getting a bit numerous so what I did was combined a few of them, culled some others, and trimmed the rest.
One thing great about combining some of your ideas is that if you have two good ideas, combining them makes it into a great idea. Of course they have to fit but hey, what the heck, right?
Also, the nice thing about culling and trimming your ideas is that you also get rid of a lot of excess baggage in your mind, which might be one reason why you're getting bogged down when you write.
July 11th, 2002, 01:02 AM
I write one at a time and keep all my other ideas as just that, ideas. I add to them from time to time, but never start writing any of them, except the main project.
July 11th, 2002, 07:58 AM
I'm with milamber on this one - unless an idea can be used in the current project, it's filed under ideas and left. Of course, some ideas remain in your mind and develop of their own accord, so to speak, so I add to that file as and when.
It is very tempting to chase after new ideas but it's a part of the writer's discipline to focus on the current - after all the grass may not be greener on the other side of the fence.
A note to Votarus - while I agree that editing can be an arduous task, four years sounds excessive. Without knowing your approach, I would suggest that editing for that length of time might point to the fact that you are not willing to let the project go. You have to ask yourself whether playing at the margins and tweaking this and that actually adds to the outcome. You can edit the life out of a book if you're not careful and sometime you have to say 'enough' and be done.
July 11th, 2002, 12:26 PM
NOM -- that's exactly what happened. Letting go of an obsession was hard. Certain friends were urging a rethink of the prologue; others were: "It's ready -- get it out there." So I set the deadline, stuck to it, and had to say goodbye. It's currently out there in agent-land getting a few nibbles, but no bites yet.
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