1. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    Breaking the long silence.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Little Miss Edi, Dec 15, 2008.

    I've recently had to put writing on the back burner. Now I'm trying to get back into it but finding the month or so of 'time off' has become something more then a pause.

    I used to dedicate two hours every day to writing and I still have those two hours allocated and ready to go, but find myself sitting there staring blankly without the inspiration or even inclination to put fingertips to keyboard.

    I don't suppose you lovely people out there have any useful advice for breaking the long silence?

    I can't seem to just plonk myself back into my old projects; every word I attempt to write is diabolical and I was really enjoying (and progressing for once) with that one and don't want to ruin it. Work means I've been writing 1k short non-fiction pieces but I just really need a way to break down the fear and get the fiction going again.

    So how about it - any ideas?

    Thanks in advance guys :)
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I know exactly what you mean. Since I got back from university, and actually have time free to write, I can't seem to think of anything write. It's infuriating.

    I'd suggest perhaps trying a stream of consciousness thing to get you going. Stare out of the window for a few minutes, then just write whatever comes into your mind. It's helped me in the past.
     
  3. fgp123
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    fgp123 New Member

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    I would suggest that you find a topic that you feel passionately about right now. It could be anything. Get up on your soapbox and write an article. It could be about something major like the environment or something minor like next doors dog pooping on your lawn.

    I find that if I am feeling a little lacklustre when it comes to writing that picking a topic to write about that I feel passionately about gives me momentum to continue when I start. If I try and force myself to write something just for the sake of it, there is no passion behind it so it falls flat.
     
  4. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    I've no doubt you've encountered this problem before and, if you think about it, will probably have the answer to hand but...easier said than done, I know. Other than saying 'write, write, write', I would suggest preparing some free time for yourself, maybe your allocated writing time, and take yourself off on a nice long walk where you can purposefully admire the beauty and magic of what you see along your way. In my experience, breathing in Nature's wonder, instead of fretting about being creative, can work wonders for the actual creative process itself. You may find your mind cleared of all that non-active dust and ultimately buzzing with oxygen and ready to go. If anything, the exercise will do you the world of good! Good luck:)
     
  5. Soul2377
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    Soul2377 New Member

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    Pausing or taking a Break from writing, for any reason, makes it very hard to concentrate or get inspiration. So, the best way is to write anything. I mean, it doesn't have to be the novel you're writing, but even insights or maybe try to do some developments in your plot or the details.
    Also reading something of the same genre gives me inspiration, always. But don't burden yourself with the 'No. I have to wrire in the novel tonight!' That usually doesn't help. Our minds are very stubborn
     
  6. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    The exact same thing happened for me. I needed to take a break from writing to take notes on my stories since they're very long and convoluted, and I didn't want to commit terrible plot errors. So, I stopped writing, put my work on hiatus, and started taking notes. It took over a year. Then I was so happy to get back to writing.

    Except for the fact that I haven't managed yet to get back into writing daily like I easily used to do.

    My advice? Make yourself do it. (Whether the project you were already working on, or something else fiction.) I know for a fact that's the only thing that would work in my case, and in truth, the only way to get something written is to write it. There's no magical solution, no easy way out. If the words feel like junk and don't flow like they used to, there's no help for that. At least junky words are still words and are better than writing nothing. And enough days/weeks/whatever spent writing junk, you should eventually make it into a habit and get back into writing the good stuff.

    That's seriously the only way. Sometimes you just have to force yourself. It's either that, or you can sit there waiting for the spark to come back, and in the meantime write nothing (no fiction), and that doesn't exactly help much, does it?
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    This will be long, but I can always come up with a story idea if I follow this process. I am making it up as I write. This is one process I use that always works.

    Here is an image I created that I look at while I go through this process

    http://manfacedgods.com/images/storystructure.jpg

    Think of a cool desire. Something that would drive a whole story, such as revenge, love, greed, etc. I will go with revenge because it's easy.

    Then go from there. Let's say girl wants revenge. Before I think of why she wants revenge and whom she wants it on, I will think of the ending. Does she get revenge on this person, company, etc, or does she have a change of heart?

    I will with she actually gets revenge. I might end up changing my mind but this gets my creative juices flowing. Knowing the end will help me make my other choices.

    Now the who/what and why. I will go with an organization. Choose the who/what and why will really change the type of story. If I chose a boy, it could be a love revenge story. But I chose an organization. She could want revenge on this organization because it poisoned her mother/father/friend . . . She could want revenge on this organization because it killed someone she cares about.

    This is one of the creative processes I use. It might work for you.

    Now I have another idea. If I change her desire from revenge to wanting to set things right, then the organization could be doing something immoral like polluting a river or lake or something. She feels morally obligated to stop them.

    But I am going to stick with the revenge thing. They killed her boyfriend via malpractice. If I make it a hospital or something, she only wants revenge on the main players that contributed to the malpractice. Hmm, this could be a complicated plot, because it might be hard to get revenge on doctors and such. I’m not sure if I want to do all the research for that. So I will change the organization. I will get more grimy. It is an underground organization and they killed her boyfriend and she doesn’t know why yet. I like that.

    She needs to figure out why they killed him, and who did it in order to get revenge.

    All I am doing is filling in the elements of story structure. I have the desire line, the MC, her goal, and the ending. I decided she is going to go through with it and take revenge. This might mean she kills the person(s) responsible for killing her boyfriend, or it might mean she puts them in jail. For now I know she will take revenge.

    I am going to change the age of the MC from thirteen to nineteen. As I begin to plug in other story elements I will get new ideas for the story. Because her weaknesses and needs should be linked to her desire and to the story. I will think up those now so they are organic. She is obviously hurting because her boyfriend is dead. An organic need then could be psychological. She needs to come to grips with her boyfriends death. I also want a physical need. But first if I cause one of her weakness to stem from her psychological need, I could then have her other need stem from that weakness.

    So her psychological need is to come to grips with her boyfriends death. That is something I know she will do by the end of the story, but she obviously would try to deal with it now, and this should be one of her weaknesses. Let’s say she learns about cutting. Physically cutting herself to drown out the emotional pain. Now I have one of her weaknesses. Cutting. But cutting only affects her. I always want a weakness that affects others. Actually cutting could affect others if they find out about it. It could make them sad.

    First how can I make her physical need stem from her cutting weakness? Thinking, umm. Her physical need could be that she needs to stop cutting, because she cuts more and more, and it is taking a toll on her body.

    Actually I am going to make her second weakness mood swings. Very intense mood swings. This causes her to sometimes say or do things that hurt others. So now her physical need is to stop hurting others. I like that better.

    Now they are all linked to her desire. By finding out who killed her boyfriend, and other events that take place in the story, she will finally come to grips with her boyfriends death. Then she can stop cutting. Her sever mood swings will be corrected, and she will stop hurting people around her. Because I did it this way, her weaknesses and needs are all linked to the story organically. None of it will feel artificial.

    I will give her one fear for now. Fear of being trapped, of being in small places. Now I know I will reveal this fear in a scene towards the beginning. Then somewhere around the middle of the story I will have her face this fear and for the moment overcome it. I am thinking she is tracking down the killer and is spying or something. People are coming in the room so she has the hide, but the only place to hide is something like a closet. She has to face her fear and hide in there long enough for the men to leave.

    As I continue to plug in story elements I get ideas for the plot.

    This would be a good time to come up with a theme, although I might end up changing it. Right now the theme could be that revenge does not heal a broken heart. She gets revenge but that is not what helps her come to grips with this person(s) killing her boyfriend. I now know her revelation. The revelation a MC gets either right before the big battle at the end of a story, or right after.

    Her revelation will be: Sometimes life seems unfair and unjust, but if we in turn cause suffering to others taking justice into our own hands, it does not balance out. How we internally deal with the injustice determines if we have peace or not.

    Because the theme organically comes from the story plot, I will never have to write it out or preach it. It will be understood by the actions my MC takes. But now that I know the theme I can have other character’s have their own views on it. This gives the reader a choice, but in the end I show what view is correct by how the story ends.

    I can plug in another story element, one of her allies. This will be her good friend Tom. They have been good friends for years. Tom has had a secret crush on her for a while. More plot ideas. I can slowly build romance between the MC and Tom. The MC cannot be romantic yet because she is still coming to grips with her boyfriends death. That adds the necessary tension to make love interesting. Once Tom reveals his true feelings, the MC realizes she also has feelings.

    Tom needs his own view on the theme. He thinks she should get revenge and put those responsible behind bars. At some point Tom finds out MC is cutting. That can make for some interesting drama in the story.

    The opponent(s) will have his own take on the theme, and he will have a logical justification for his actions. At least logical from his POV. I think I will go with more than one opponent.

    The idea just hit me. Her boyfriend was a hacker. He did it for a hobby, but he found this underground organization that pays good money to help them hack. Her boyfriend learned to much and had a change of heart. He was going to go to the police so a few people in the organization killed him or had him killed. I’m not sure yet. Yeah they seem like the kind of people that would hire someone else to do the dirty work. So now we have a assassin in the story. I don’t have to have him play any role other than he killed her boyfriend. But I might decide to bring him into the story and cause the MC more troubles.

    The justification the opponents give for killing her boyfriend goes something like this: We are an elite underground hacking society that is trying to change the world. The government is controlling vital information that we the people should have access to. We make that possible, and your boyfriend was going to get us shut down. Oh, just because we occasionally have to higher someone to kill a senator or governor or some other political figure in order to prevent the government from taking away our most basic freedoms. << I would end up fleshing this out more.

    Now my opponents are not totally evil. It could be argued they are doing a good thing. The government is trying to take our freedoms away and are trying to set up some sort of martial law or dictatorship. This underground organization is trying to stop them. However her boyfriend finds out that they take it too far and kill people.

    There is one other story element that can really change the kind of story this will be, and that is the story universe. This could happen in the very distant past, in which case the hackers are not hackers but are some other type of underground organization trying to stop the King or something. It could take place in the future. It could take place in the present. It could take place on another planet with aliens and such involved. It could take place in a universe where ghost or monsters exist.

    If I decide to run with the paranormal, I can still keep most of all the ideas I came up with so far. Perhaps the organization not only hacks, but uses spirits to fight the government. Now the MC has to deal with spirits as well in order to get revenge.

    But nah, I will go with earth set in 2014 or something with no spirits.

    After Obama’s 4 years the next president to be elected wants dictatorship.

    Anyways I have already plotted some events in the story line, and I am ready to plot. I have enough story elements to do so. I will also need to think of a background for the MC and Tom. Important past events that make them who they are that I would weave into the story.

    I need to justify the MC’s cutting by showing more of her past. She was abused verbally growing up by her step dads. She remembers one of her friends in high school used to cut. She said cutting helped her escape her emotional pain.

    So now I just have to think of scenes that organically stem from the story elements I came up with and that move my MC character to her goal. I will need to think of many conflicts she must overcome in order to reach that goal.

    Going about it this way always gets my creative juices flowing. As you can see I have already started to create what could be an interesting story.

    I would start out with a scene that introduces my characters. Show how the MC and her boyfriend get along and are happy. The boyfriend starts coming home later and later at night. He lies to her about where he is going. He sort of tells her he is part of something big. Gives her just enough hints that when he dies she has some leads to follow. After he dies she gets really depressed. I have already woven some of her background into the story. Like how her steps dads called her all sort of hurtful things. She now remembers her high school friend and cuts her self for the first time. It sort of helps. As the story progresses she does it more and more.

    Her and Tom hang out more. Tom decides to help her on her crazy quest to find out who killed her boyfriend. They find out her boyfriend was part of a underground hacking society trying to keep our freedoms alive, trying to prevent the president from starting a dictatorship. Tom has second doubts. Maybe it is best to just let this go. It is getting dangerous and they are doing a good thing. I don’t want to be part of a dictatorship.

    Anyways I can keep going on with ideas now. I hope this method helps you come up with some great ideas. Don’t doubt yourself. Try it. Sit down and think of a desire line, then a goal, then how that goal ends. Then think of a psychological need for your MC and so forth.

    Here is a link to an image I made that list the story elements and a plot structure that helps me. I looked at the image while writing this response.

    http://manfacedgods.com/images/storystructure.jpg
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't do what I did and give up on creative writing for over 15 years. I've written reams of academic stuff, but being creative, as you say, can be scary. (And breaking rules--I had a little frisson as I wrote '20' instead of 'twenty' there. Yep, just writing to rules really can make one as anally retentive as that.)

    I cured myself slowly by continuing to treat the creative writing as an assignment, like my academic commitments, with deadlines and notes/research that I would force myself to take seriously. I realise this might not work for everyone, but HAVING to do XYZ by a certain date got me producing.

    At first, I had to use story prompts like: "My best friend has taken to wearing clothes that are unsuitable for her age and dying her hair wild colours... CONTINUE". Later, I was able to take themes from short story contests and produce pieces of the required length. Still later i.e. in the last 5 years, I'm back to writing a novel again. It's been gruesome. I'm sure your break won't last so long!
     
  9. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can see I changed '20' to '15' there--5 years of mucking about might be considered writing again perhaps. And still being as anally retentive as ever.
     
  10. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    You guys are great!! Thanks so much, there are some great ideas and thank you all so much for taking the time to give detailed responses (Architectus - I took notes! :p ) I think combining some of these things will get me right back on track; I'll go for a walk sit down and force myself to write a stream of conscious about something I feel passionate about... with any luck it'll all come flooding back and the big evil silence will be broken!

    Madhoca, glad you're back into it after those 15 years - there's hope for all of us!

    Thanks again to all of you - you're fab!!
     
  11. Honeybun
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    Honeybun Active Member

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    I completely agree with Cheeno, there's no better way than to actually get yourself out there. It might not only be to isolate yourself on a river bank and muse, you can find socialising with friends and strangers very benefitial and quite amusing.

    Prompting ideas can be found everywhere once you pay an attentive eye to them ;). Also, you can try writing a journal, it might not be anything interesting happening to you, at least it'll keep you from being remote from the realm of writing :D

    Good luck and...

    Keep it up ;)
     

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