PDA

View Full Version : Going nowhere.


SFFWorld.com
Home - Discussion Forums - News - Reviews - Interviews

New reviews, interviews and news

New in the Discussion Forum


Pages : [1] 2 3 4 5

pcarney
May 23rd, 2003, 08:02 AM
Let me apologize if you've heard this countless times, but..

I'm feeling really frustrated with my writing. It just seems like I'm spinning my wheels in the mud. And I'm not even talking about getting published, I'm just struggling to finish something - Anything! I always hit a point in a story and I think-
1. What next? I have no idea where to go with this.
2. This is crap! This happens very often. I decide the characters stink, the plot's weak, etc. So I tinker around with it, get angry at it and delete it.

Now, I know both of the issues can be addressed, and I'm doing my best with them. But it always seems I run into another problem every time I get into something..and I never get anywhere.

Well, perhaps this has also to do with the fact that I just turned 31 a few weeks ago. No, that's not all that old, but I'd hoped to at least have something to 'shop' around at this point. Instead I'm sitting here facing a half dozen unfinished stories, an unwieldy outline and five or six good novel ideas.

Poor little me. I apologize if this whining got on your nerves.

Lucky Joe
May 23rd, 2003, 09:15 AM
I often suffer from the same problem, ie hating everything I've just spent months working on.

The only solution for me - and I hate doing this but sometimes I just have too - is to walk away and leave it alone for a couple of weeks to give myself a chance to forget just how much i hate it and why it's so bad, and generally when I come back I see a lot of positives in the work and suddenly find myself re-enthused (is that even a word?) and get back into it. (have just gone through one of these periods and am now flying again!!):D

Richardb
May 23rd, 2003, 09:46 AM
I used to struggle with finishing things, primarily because I spent too much time trying to make it right, and editing. What I have learned, is to just keep going. Don't worry if it is not tight, or if it rambles a bit, just let the characters keep moving. That way, I could get to the end. It was then much easier to tweak and change things to suit where I wanted the story to go. When writing, just write, don't try to 'craft' they story too much. That is what re-writing is for. In general, when lost, give the characters some room and let them take the story for a bit, you can always go back and reign them in. The secret is to keep writing and do not allow yourself to stop.
May only work for me... but that is my best advice.

KatG
May 23rd, 2003, 10:48 AM
Originally posted by pcarney
Let me apologize if you've heard this countless times, but..

I'm feeling really frustrated with my writing. It just seems like I'm spinning my wheels in the mud. And I'm not even talking about getting published, I'm just struggling to finish something - Anything! I always hit a point in a story and I think-
1. What next? I have no idea where to go with this.
2. This is crap! This happens very often. I decide the characters stink, the plot's weak, etc. So I tinker around with it, get angry at it and delete it.

Now, I know both of the issues can be addressed, and I'm doing my best with them. But it always seems I run into another problem every time I get into something..and I never get anywhere.

Well, perhaps this has also to do with the fact that I just turned 31 a few weeks ago. No, that's not all that old, but I'd hoped to at least have something to 'shop' around at this point. Instead I'm sitting here facing a half dozen unfinished stories, an unwieldy outline and five or six good novel ideas.

Poor little me. I apologize if this whining got on your nerves.
Join the club -- and I don't mean that in a stop your whining sort of way. :)

Just about every writer on the planet feels this way, a good bit of the time. I have a pal who's a bestselling author who just spent 7 months on the first chapter of her new book. Now the ms. is coming more easily, but it took that long to get there. That's just how she works sometimes. Another friend who is a writer has a wonderful scale she and her pals use. Essentially when you're working on a project, you go up and down the scale:

Level 1: the book
Level 2: the stupid book
Level 3: the damn book
Level 4: the *&$# book
Levels 5-8: the "unprintable" book

Reality is, you're not going to like your work a lot of the time, especially in draft stages. Published authors don't like their work a lot of the time. They would love to go back and fix and fiddle with things on their publications if they could. Lawrence Block, for instance, says he regularly writes 100 pages or more of a story, only to have it peter out and he has to dump the project. Amy Tan jokes that her second novel was really her eighth novel because she worked on and then abandoned several other story ideas. Sometimes you're going to get stuck, sometimes you're going to have to junk it.

But you may not want to be too quick to do so. Richard's posting about trying not to put on your editors hat and just keep going to the end, I think, was right on the money for most of us. A few writers have to do revisions as they go and have it all set up or they can't write on, but most of us are going to have drafts that are full of contradictions, plot holes, missing bits, scribbled notes, weak and uneven characterizations, etc. It's not necessarily the idea or our writing that's the problem -- it's just that it isn't jello yet, and trying to make it jello before its time leaves you with colored water.

Suggestions for things that might help:

1. Write a short short story. Don't try to formulate an idea, just start writing: a man walks into a bar.... Completing something, even if it's terrible short, might make you feel better. Think of it as a party game.

2. Talk to friends you trust and tell them about where you're stuck on a project and ask them to make suggestions about where they think you should go with it. It helps to use a diverse group: male, female, sf/f readers, non sf/f readers, and so on.

3. Leave alone the one you're unhappy with or stuck on and go work on something else. New ideas do tend to have more juice and maybe your mind needs a little break.

4. Set yourself a quota. I had one friend who was a short story writer and was afraid she just couldn't write something as long as a novel. She signed up on a website where you were required to post 15 pages of your project a week -- didn't matter what shape it was in, but you had to get your 15 pages put up or you were kicked out until the next month when you could try again. This really helped her. It won't work for everyone, but if you tell yourself that you have to write 3 pages today, even if they're crap, who knows, maybe the tide will turn.

5. Participate in a collaborative story. This is sort of a weird one but it can work. In a collaborative story on a message board or website, everyone puts up bits of text. You have to respect other folks' characters but you can use them for your parts of the story -- kind of like a D&D game with text. It's a game, it's fun and there's very little time to edit your work and secondguess yourself. You have to react to others' ideas and plot devices. And sometimes this can help you loosen up about your own writing, or get ideas for your own writing.

6. Tell yourself you are writing the work for your kids, family members, friends, the guy at the Pick N Save -- someone -- not for publication. It doesn't matter if it's much good, since your friends and family love you anyway; you're just trying to entertain them. This obviously won't work if you're obsessed with having your family and friends' approval, but it's worth a try and maybe takes a little of the ticking time clock pressure off.

I, Brian
May 25th, 2003, 06:50 AM
I'm feeling really frustrated with my writing. It just seems like I'm spinning my wheels in the mud. And I'm not even talking about getting published, I'm just struggling to finish something - Anything!

Perhaps part of the problem is that you're trying too hard? On the one hand, creativity is a stubborn master and refuses to flow on demand.


I always hit a point in a story and I think-
1. What next? I have no idea where to go with this.

Then just leave it. Usually within a couple of weeks I've figured out where it actually progresses.


2. This is crap! This happens very often. I decide the characters stink, the plot's weak, etc. So I tinker around with it, get angry at it and delete it.

NEVER EVER DELETE! Simply resave the file as a new version. Everytime I make a significant change to a mss, I simply save as a new version.

A fresh manuscript may be named "manuscript 1 1 1"

My current work in progress is "<title> 2 2 1 3"

The numbers do not reflect how far developed (ie, out of 10), simply the version number like with software - ie, novel version 2.2.1.3

Often I find that just because I didn;t like a piece overall, there is no worth to it. Sometimes I'll mine older sections for deletions and rip out a phrase here or there than suddenly stands out as superb for elsewhere.



Well, perhaps this has also to do with the fact that I just turned 31 a few weeks ago. No, that's not all that old, but I'd hoped to at least have something to 'shop' around at this point.

I'm crying with you. I'm 31 in July and expected to have been published - oh, at least 7 years ago. Before 30, definitely. :(

But this year is the year I'm going to break it. I promise you by the end of the year I will be signed. If not, the year after...if not, then it's down to Equillibrium or my own independent publishing company. :rolleyes:

I, Brian
May 25th, 2003, 06:56 AM
Tell yourself you are writing the work for your kids, family members, friends, the guy at the Pick N Save -- someone -- not for publication.

I vehemently disgree with this - just me, though. :)

If you are writing for the publishing indsutry then you absolutely need to write with the needs of the publishing industry in mind because the needs of the publishing industry are the ultimately what will accept or reject you work.

I made the mistake of writing "Chronicles of Empire" for myself. It's going to be a b*tch to re-work for the publishing industry requirements.

James Barclay
May 25th, 2003, 08:19 AM
The first person that has to be happy with your writing is you. Not your family, a publisher, any other reader. You. Because if you wouldn't read your work, you aren't going to write something anybody else would read.

I, Brian has a point, though, there will very probably be compromises you have to make for a work to move to a publishable form. But still you must resist changing work if htat means it goes against the essential story you are trying to tell. Being simply commercial is not going to help you in the end. You have to have your own voice to be different and hence worth publishing.

kgg
May 25th, 2003, 01:04 PM
Ha! I was desperate to get a novel published at 30. I managed to do it through self publishing--so in that sense I was pleased. :) Of course I wanted to get some short stories published after that--and it has been slow going (one short story in a non genre Australian ecology magazine--and I am NOT in Australia). Because publishing is like a lottery (except one where the employees and their families CAN buy a ticket--as many as they like) you really shouldnt get caught up in some desperate race to "make it." Once you hit 32, you get over it--for a while. :)
You definitely have to do your writing for yourself first and foremost--unless your enjoyment comes from doing commercial work. Definitely I would recommend taking some time away from your stories and come back to it with a fresh perspective.

pcarney
May 26th, 2003, 11:23 AM
Thanks for the tips and support, all. I do need to just sit and let it flow out, without stopping to doubt myself or edit it ever other paragraph...oddly enough, I find it hard to do so..i guess its like any bad habit, you do it enough and it just becomes second nature.

I see an interesting discussion in that whole 'Who to write for' vein, I might as well post that to an new thread.

OgreWolf
May 26th, 2003, 03:26 PM
I feel that my story is going something, and i really like my plot. However, I am afraid that my main character is going to ruin it all. It's really frustrating, but my character is a real wuzz, and there seems like there is nothing I can do with it. He's behaviour could, of course, be explained by the fact that he just lost his father, but how do I know if this is how he SHOULD behave?