1. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    20,000 word hump.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by bluebell80, Sep 5, 2009.

    I'm about to throw in my writer's hat, proclaim myself to be a wannbe, and be resigned to work in retail for the rest of my life.

    I swear I get to about 20,000 words in a novel and suddenly I'm bored. I start slacking off for a few days. Then I get into watching news, looking at some sort of interesting research, everything from parallel universes and cosmology to conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11. Then I find myself thinking of some other plot line, not just a simple plot line, but I get the opening scene and a whole idea going.

    Then I end up ditching the previous 20,000 words written on a totally different story, with the intent to work on both at the same time or the earlier one later, but I never get around to it.

    Does anyone else have this issue. Too many topics, not enough brain power, and too little time to get it all down?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I frequently do this with short stories. Even after finishing and revising them, I lose interest, and they just sit there on my computer. The thing that worked for me was to come back to whatever I was working on after working on something else. This gives me a fresh perspective when I come back to whatever I left unfinished. This approach worked for a few of the stories, but some of them I just gave up on. I feel that abandoning a project is not necessarily a bad thing. It's a learning process. However, if you are abandoning every project you start, then that might be a problem. You might have to force yourself to write.
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    BlueBell80,

    It may be that the projects you've started were not planned out well enough in advance and that's why they stalled, or that what you were working on really wasn't destined to be novel-length.

    However, from your post, those possibilities don't appear to be the case.

    What it does take is self-discipline. Writing is hard because it takes self-discipline. There isn't instant gratification and the writer has to be in it for the long haul, because takes a while to write a novel and get it right. If you're struggling to get beyond 1/5th of the first draft, you're really going to struggle when you have to edit and revise to get the mansucript up to submission quality to have a chance for an agent to represent it and/or a publisher to accept it (if that's your goal).

    In the end it is you who is going to have to redirect yourself when you stray. If not, you will remain, as you indicated, a wannabe. There are many "wannabes" out there. Actually vast multitudes of them are out there because the fact is that writing a good, solid novel isn't easy--even getting through the first draft. Even the first draft takes time and effort and dediction. And that's only the beginning.

    Good luck.

    Terry
     
  4. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    I think you may have two problems:

    1. Whenever I get uninterested, It's when I'm not writing. If I force myself to sit down and type, all of a suddenly another part of my brain takes over and ideas flow. Have you made yourself sit down and do it?

    2. Is the story special to you, or did you just pick a story raffle like and go with it. I tried and tried to write a novel. It wasn't until I came up with a story that really interested me that I could spend so much time on it. If other plot ideas are hitting you, perhaps you need to keep searching.

    .
    .
    (btw, I just got up, and was about to write the first line: "I think you may got two problems." I never heard "may got" before. Why does it sound so terrible?)
     
  5. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I'm sure the process is different for every writer. I don't usually know when I begin a story how long that story will turn out to be, and I don't plot & plan in advance. But then I have no aspiration to write a novel, either, although I have nothing against doing that, if that's what arrives at the end. I've also never had the experience of not finding my own writing interesting (I don't think that's necessarily a plus, either), although I have abandoned a story or two that I didn't think would work for a reader, at least not in the form that it took. I like the idea of disciplined writing because, for me, writing leads to ideas more so than ideas leading to interesting writing.

    I guess my take-away from that would be that there's probably nothing at all wrong with abandoning one story for another, if that stimulates your creative machinery. I do think it's not to a writer's benefit to think of that abandonment as wasteful and I don't recommend word-counting as a means to any creative end at all. It's a little like working with clay or maybe a woodcarving experience. The working itself leads the creator into his medium in ways that simply cannot be learned "any-other-how." And I think the best artists in any medium learn to work with each other (artists and medium) as equals somehow.
     
  6. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    I'm having a similar problem with mine now - I'm only about 12k through =P

    The question for me is what inspired me to write it in the first place.

    Solutions that fix my mood range from either putting on some thematic music (the track is actually called "zombie"), going back to what original inspired me to start (books, movies, games, ideas) or even just reading through what I've typed to bring myself up to speed on my own writing.

    If you go back over what you've written and you're just not feeling it come back to you, you're probably better off ditching it after all =S

    I guess it usually happens because you lose momentum, and the bigger the ball gets the harder it is the push. Just remind yourself why you're doing what you're doing and you should be fine.
     
  7. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    One problem may be the lack of planning. I go scene by scene with a general idea of where I am going, but prefer to see how each scene plays out and how my cliff hanger is leading to the next scene, the problem-reaction-solution approach I guess.

    I was, well technically still am, working on a novel length zombie story. I was in the midst of a scene, plugging away on it, and got into watching some videos on You Tube, and watching the news, and reading some science magazines online. Then another story popped into my head that I just felt I must get started on paper or I'll loose the concept.

    I had taken two days off from writing while I read a copy of John Dies at The End that I found online (since it had previously been offered online download versions are still around the web -- like Autumn was.) I read the story in two days. It was really good. But then I started researching wormholes and parallel universes and related theories...a good portion I already knew about.

    Then I found myself watching David Icke videos, even though I'm not so in line with his theories, they are interesting. The idea that beings in reptilian form could be controlling the world governments, but I don't like his theory that they came from Planet X or some other planet of this dimension. To me they could be more of a species from another parallel universe that found a way to cross the divide (theoretically of course, not like I actually believe our leaders are reptile aliens.) It makes for an interesting story, kind of like what John Dies at the End explores.

    So it got me thinking. I was struck with an opening scene, a main character and just had to start writing. But this means I've abandoned my zombie book 20k words in. It's not that I was bored with the zombie story, because I still have things churning in my brain about it. But, I feel like an ADD case jumping from one idea to another and never finishing it.

    I have no problem finishing shorter pieces as long as I do it in one or two sittings. But with longer pieces I just can't seem to get past 20,000 words before something else sparks another story in my mind that sounds too good to pass up.

    Maybe I'm just crazy like Stephen King and will end up with files full of half started stories that I can use later....I can only hope. :)
     
  8. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Aside from the other advice in this thread, I have a theory:

    When you first start writing, there is no story. Sure, you have an idea that you wanna foster and develop but, honestly: There is nothing complex.
    So you sit down and write all of the wonderful ideas that come to you. Then, as the story transforms from a basic concept into a working story with thoughtful characters and a meaningful direction to the plot - and this is the part that everything has been leading up to - once you get to that part of the story-- well, then you have to start working!

    I'm writing a detective novel -- and of course, that is an extreme since in detective novels, you gotta make sure that all of your pieces are falling in a specifically timed manner -- and after writing some random ideas, building two fairly detailed crimes, and creating an entire planet and history thereof, I started getting a bit. . . shy of my typewriter.

    From this point on, I'll have to think carefully about what happens, lest plot-holes and continuity errors.
    It is very obvious because of the type of story I am writing, but perhaps this selfsame problem exists - albeit, more subtly - in many stories. It's no longer just about 'writing that fun idea,' but about work.
     
  9. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    What a great description (all of it, really), but I love this especially--I think I even recognize it!
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not everyone who wants to write is cut out to be a novelist... why don't you try short stories and see if you can finish things that don't have to keep you writing for months or years?

    short stories can be turned out in days... and once you've gotten the satisfaction of completing what you start, you may find you can eventually work your way up to writing a novel...

    or you may never get there, but as i said, not everyone has what it takes to write novels... but the writer's art offers many other options, you know... plays, movie scripts, poetry, non-fiction essays and articles and much, much more...
     
  11. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I don't think it's at all a matter of working your way "up" to either, except in the sense of which one you're shooting for. While practicing either can be helpful to both, novels and short stories are distinctly different artforms and require somewhat different priorities. It's more like a painter whose self-expression works better on a large canvas or small; neither size has anything at all to do with the exceptionality of the artwork.
     
  12. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Maia,

    I do write other things besides novel attempts. I've submitted some short stories on here for contests, though I've never attempted to publish short stories. I do non-fiction articles too, but it has to be something I feel strongly about and that I can churn out in the course of an hour or two. I tend to be controversial when I write non-fiction, so sometimes I tend to not bother because I know I'm going to end up on some "right-wing conspiracy theory nut" list, or totally hated by people and the article will never sell to the pill popping mentally ill. So I tend to avoid that unless I am putting it on one of my blogs.

    I'm not blocked, that's the sad thing. I wish I could claim writers block, but it's more like writer's overload. Too many ideas and not enough focus to get it written out at length. What I have for stories are novel length works, if I actually finish them.

    I think I'm just being annoyed at myself for not being more productive on a daily basis. I have to spend some time with my kids during the day, and I have to sleep and do the typical housewife types of things. But when I sit down to write, I tend to spend it researching, writing a little, then coming up with some other idea, totally unrelated to my original idea, that commands my attention. I dare say I'm too creative, and that is part of my problem. I get off on saying, oohhh, this is a great idea for a story, start it, get about 20k words in and then in my daily reading see something else, some other theory, that sparks another "what if." Maybe I just need to disconnect my internet so I'll spend time actually writing. lol Stupid unquenchable thirst for knowledge always leads me astray. :)

    On the subject of short stories, I agree with Molly. And I like the painters analogy. A short story is like a super focused up close shot of a segment in a reality of a painting. It's like painting just the cabin in super close focus, rather than a Bob Ross painting with all the trees and mountains and lakes behind that little bitty cabin on the hillside.

    The short story is a beginning, middle, and end in under 5000 words. I can do that, but I do agree it is a totally different animal than writing 100,000 words with a beginning, middle and end.

    I know I can write a novel. It's just a matter of sticking to it and not getting all side tracked on other ideas. I just wish there wasn't such a plethora of ideas out there begging to be looked at, stories begging to be told. Too many distractions with ideas. While some can work well as short stories, others have to be told in a longer format. As I said above, I'm just too creative. An idea strikes, and I feel the need to respond while the iron is hot. If I don't write the idea it will fad and I'll forget. If I do write it, I'll stop what I am doing to focus my attention on it, until I hit about 20k words then my mind for some reason wants something new to play with.

    I don't know how doable it is, but I'd ideally like to work on both ideas at the same time, but I might confuse myself, or maybe I am selling myself short. Man, I need a drink, preferably of the alcoholic nature.
     
  13. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Novels take much dedication and discipline to finish.

    Here is what I do. When I get new ideas, I write notes, and an outline. I save it in a seperate folder and add to the notes and outline as I get more ideas. I do not stop working on my current project, though. Somedays writing a chapter is hell, other days they flow, and I enjoy the process.

    By the time I finish the first draft of a novel, I have pleanty of notes and a fleshed out story in one of my several folders of ideas to begin the next novel.

    Some ideas, I turn into short stories instead. Every now and again I take a break from my novel and write a short story. I never, however, try to write two novels at once. I also work on only one screenplay at a time.

    Perhaps try a screenplay. Quick to write, they allow you to finish several full length stories. It seems perfect for you because a screenplay is about 20,000 words. 110 pages, where each page has an average of 180-200 words.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    molly...
    i think you mistook what i said... your comments are valid in re the difference, but i was merely referring to the 'staying power' it takes to write novels, not the talent or priorities...

    bb...
    pretty much any story idea can be done as a short story or developed into a novel...

    i don't see how a writer can possibly be too 'creative'... your problem seems to be only that you're not disciplined enough... discipline is just as important to one who wants to write professionally, as is talent...

    while it's generally a given that talent is a 'gift' that can't be learned, one can always work on learning and developing the discipline that's needed to employ one's talents successfully...

    and, in fact, many with much less than the talent it takes to be 'great' at their chosen art have succeeded at least financially, by merely being disciplined enough to stick to it, resulting in works that critics may consider mediocre [and worse], but that nonetheless sell well...
     
  15. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I think you'd be in very good company on that score--even with writers who have a good deal of success under their belts. It seems to come with the territory. Take heed of that discipline thing Mamamaia and others recommend. I think that's helpful for all kinds of good reasons, not the least of which is to exercise and stretch that confidence level.
     
  16. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Blue,
    This used to happen to me when I began to write. I learned a few things from it.
    1 - Like others have said, it may be that you have a lack of interest in your idea, or that it is just, in your opinion, not a good enough plot or something along those lines. (not that it isn't a good plot, I've haven't read your stuff, but when I gave up it was because my plot failed)
    2- perhaps all these ideas can be an asset for you. Maybe, with the right planning, however detailed or vague, you can try incorporating them into the story.

    What I did to get on the write track was force myself to write at least 3000 words a day, whether it was completely bogus or not. Even if it was, I had a kind of cycle where I would re-read what I wrote the next day before continuing my writing, and I would fix it up. This really helped me for my first draft. Forcing yourself to write each day ( I know it sounds bad, but you need the will to do it!) will --what's the word? -- tame the ideas that you're getting...if you catch my drift.
    If you get your ideas on paper, you can move on without a hassle and go back later and see what you want to change.
    As for the 20 000 hump, honestly, do not give up. Just keep on going. I got to about 50k on my crappy first draft, and it honestly looked like I had never read a book in my life. I think that's fine. It won't come to you after your first 20k words of that writing piece, so just persevere and fix it up as much as you can, and you will find that you will love what you have written.
    Planning? I didn't plan, I just wrote. Eventually, when I began to re-write, I planned out the next chapter after each chapter, and it's working out OK. You can try that method because over planning is hard to cope with.
    I hope any of this helps and good luck :) PERSEVERE
     
  17. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Thanks everyone! Maia is right, I'm not disciplined enough. I've always had that problem. It is definitely a learned trait though, so eventually I'll get it.

    I do love the zombie story that I've been working on, and I know there isn't anything wrong with it structurally or with the characters, it's just my enthusiasm that has waned. I still have a few ideas that I jotted down at the end of where I left off, so that I can pick it back up. But I think I have to try and work on the story that's been unfolding in my mind over the last few days. I'll work on that till the enthusiasm wanes and then I'll go back to my zombie story, read what I have so far with fresh eyes, and continue with renewed enthusiasm. I can address the few minor tweaks I've noted (a few scenes need to be rewritten for flow) but overall I really like where I was headed with the zombie book. This other idea just won't leave me alone.

    I don't know if anyone else has ever felt this, but this is the first time I have really had this happen...it's like a light switch was flicked on, I've been in the dark, and now I can see this whole story just unfolding before me. I have to write it. I didn't really feel that with the zombie story, it was more just enjoyment because I love the genre and ideas that go with it. But this new one...I can't put into words how many things have been flying out of my head. I thought up (what resulted in the first 4000 words now) a scene while doing dishes this morning. I had to stop and start writing. It was like a compulsion. If I didn't my head was going to explode and I'd loose it all as my brains leaked out on the floor. :)

    I want to thank you all for your encouragement. I can always count on you folks to be there to point out something that should be right in front of my face, but you do it with sugar rather than vinegar. :)
     

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