1. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you follow inspiration?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lea`Brooks, Feb 15, 2016.

    I'm sure this question has been posted before, but I couldn't find it so I'm asking it again.

    I'm in a pickle. Two years ago, I started working on a story. (It doesn't have a title yet so we'll call it Golems.) I planned the characters, the setting, and even made an outline for it. I wrote the first chapter, posted it on here, got good feedback, but then I got stuck. My brain eventually started moving towards another story I was working on, Desolate, and I never went back.

    I planned Desolate completely, outlined it, wrote it, read it, made notes in what needed to be changed, and am now working on the second draft outline. However, my brain is now moving back towards Golems. I always wanted it to be the first story I published and wrote entirely. I don't really know why. Maybe because it's a simple but engaging story. Maybe because Desolate comes in three parts, and I know I'll want to write them all in succession.

    But now I don't know what to do! Should I stick with Desolate, in turn writing books 1, 2, & 3? Or should I follow my brain and my inspiration and write Golems? My husband thinks if I start on Golems again, I'll never finish Desolate. But I'm worried that if I work on Desolate when I really want to work on Golems, I'll end up half-assing the work because my heart just isn't in it.

    Don't get me wrong -- I still love Desolate. I'm just not feeling it right now. Is it bad to skip around on stories or work on multiple stories at a time? Or should I focus on one from beginning to publishing end? Opinions?
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016
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  2. TkTish
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    TkTish Member

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    I don't think it's bad to skip around if you know you'll eventually go back to your "main" project. Maybe try this - you could work on Desolate for most of the day, then as a "reward" to yourself, work on Golems at the end of the day. Or hell, work on Desolate one week, then Golems the next week. Switch back and forth (as long as you can keep everything straight!). That way you don't get burnt out on either, while working on both as well!
     
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  3. Samurai Jack
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    Samurai Jack Active Member

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    If you are okay with having multiple unfinished projects, if the creative aspect is worth more than the end result, by all means, skip around.

    If at any point you wish you had something finished, able to publish, then the inspiration might need to take a back seat. Though that could easily mean leaving Desolate to finish Golems, with the understanding the desire to go back to Desolate might need to be ignored.
     
  4. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I've never understood this "inspiration" bit.

    For my primary job I'm under a grant to write about linkages between sensory response data and consumer willingness to pay. In my second job, my editor needs the final mock up on the story about this years fire season by the 5th. But I really don't feel "inspired" to write either of those, should I just work on my novel instead?

    Seriously? It's publish or perish. Put your butt in the chair and write. I'm so glad I cut my teeth in academic writing where inspiration was not required. I work on every project every day; that's how shit gets done.
     
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  5. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Appreciate the input, but that doesn't answer my question. It's not "to write or not to write." I'm going to write either way. Just trying to figure out which story to write.

    I may just try working on both until I find what works for me. Either both for a couple hours a day or alternating every other week. Eventually I'll figure out a system, I suppose. Thanks everybody. :)
     
  6. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    ^^^This is what I said. Every project, every day.
     
  7. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I missed that. :p Whoops!
     
  8. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    I'm not going to try to explain this myself, because Philip Overby already did it so much better.

    -- -- -- --

    You’re working on your current project when a beautiful faerie lands on your laptop and says, “Hey! Why are you writing this boring story? Look over here!”

    Wow, a story about elven wyvern hunters in 18th Century Central America is much more interesting than my current Work in Progress (WIP) about mutant horse-thieves in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by centaurs.

    The faerie grabs your hand, hovers it over a new Word document, and jumps up and down on your finger until you left-click it. Ah. Like sinking into a warm bath. The feeling of cleansing away your dirty, stinky WIP and starting a pristine, new document, that little blinking cursor sending shivers up your spine.

    You’re about one hundred pages into your elven wyvern hunter story when, wham, you hit that wall. The faerie returns. “How about a story that follows dwarven sewer pirates through their war with alligator people–”

    Yeah! That’s much–

    Wait.

    You suddenly look at your desktop. It’s a veritable graveyard of discarded manuscripts. Once promising and awesome, they’re now crowding up your workspace, their voices calling from the Beyond. Your WILs (Works in Limbo).

    “Write me! Write me!”

    You must stop it. You must stop the Creative ADD faerie before it claims another victim.

    -- -- -- --

    The rest of his essay is about avoiding the problem, but for now, it's enough to establish it.
     
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  9. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I have like ... eight current projects right now because I mostly follow inspiration, if you want to look at it that way. They're all in various states of construction - one's a nearly-finished novel, one's in the finished outline stage, one is a roughly halfway-plotted series, one isn't much more than than a couple characters and a concept. It works for me because I'm terrible at focusing on one thing at a time and hate to force myself to work on one thing when I'm really not into it, so this way I have options. But I mean, I do still still buckle down and put in serious work in one or another when I decide I need to, and I do prioritize them - the series is 'on the backburner' right now, last october I spent a lot of time getting that finished outline to the point it's at now and once I'm done working on some short stories this month I have plans to add in some final wrinkles and get started on the novel proper. Will I still be thinking about the other projects and making notes about them? Totally. Why waste cool ideas when I have them and let them slip away? But the novel will be the main focus.

    I've seen a lot of pretty disparaging comments about 'following inspiration' but eh, it's just a matter of what works best for your individual brain/style. The last two new story ideas I had evoked groans because seriously, I already had enough on my plate ... but am I just going pass up orphaned scientist space pirates and a ramshackle gang of freedom fighting cyborgs, robots, and programmers? God no I'm gonna write that down before I forget about it :D
     
  10. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Actually for some of us it isn't a choice. I'm pure pantster, and as I found out recently to my cost, it's not a choice. I can write an absolutely perfect plot, detailed, logical and perfect in every way. But I can't damn well write to my plot! Because the instant I start writing I lose myself in my work and by the time I'm back the story has taken five left turns, crossed a field and jumped several ditches. It's pointless trying to become a plotter for me. That's just not who I am.

    And yes, it does mean I have around a hundred and fifty unfinished novels in various stages sitting on my computer. But, for those who decry us pantsters - not looking at any Khalie in particular - I also have twenty four published works out there.

    The reason is simple. When that damned muse takes me I write. I write fast and passionately and without a break. I have completed entire first drafts in a month.

    My advice is be who you are. You may like me, have no choice in how you write.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  11. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It's going to depend where you're at in your writing journey.

    Maybe you need to get some more distance from your first draft before working in your second draft.
    So maybe working on your Golems project will give you the space to objectively decide what's good from your first draft and decide if you've got a good second draft plan.

    Maybe you've got enough to learn from first drafting, that you might as well work on what's fun for now, and worry about turning something into a publishable product later

    Or maybe you're procrastinating because you've got a fear of second drafting. It's not something you've ever done before, so you're not sure you'll get it right. At which point you might need to just go for it.
    You'll not learn how to do it until you start trying though. Common writer advice gives writers the confidence to not be paralysed by fear of making mistakes on draft one, but sometimes that defers the fear to draft two.
    But you're allowed to get things wrong on draft 2 too. You should have saved copies of everything so you can experiment with alternative scenes in draft 2, and if doesn't seem to be working out you've got something to fall back upon.

    I don't know if any of the above applies to you, and there are also deciding factors which I've not thought of. You'll know where you're at better than we do.
     
  12. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Finish the first one (making sure it can stand by itself). Polish it, send it out. Then worry about what to write next.
     
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  13. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm with @plothog - there's no one answer to this, it depends on you, your goals, your timelines, etc.

    If you're writing mostly for fun, then make sure writing is fun.

    If you're writing mostly for publication, then be aware that this could be your last change to be really self-indulgent about your work, and to experiment with different writing schedules. Once you get books published, you've got a damn career to worry about - even if you don't have timelines from editors, you'll have to think about your readers, keeping your name in front of them, always having something new on the horizon, etc. etc. This may be your last chance to really explore different ways of getting your writing done, so... you may want to take that opportunity!

    (And, along with @psychotick's point - I'm another one with lots of books published and I don't follow @KhalieLa's philosophy. Writing fiction isn't like writing an academic paper or a report, at least for me. I write 365K new words a year, but I don't write them at 1K per day every day. Some days I'm inspired and I do 10K; other days I'm not inspired and I go for a hike instead. Especially if writing is your second or third job - be kind to yourself!
     
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  14. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank you. :)

    I eventually want writing to be my career, but as of right now, I'm just trying to enjoy the process. But I think I'm also trying to figure it out. It is new to me (Desolate is the first draft I've ever written) so I'm learning as I go. So at this point, I'm not trying to put too much pressure on myself to stick to a certain timeline. I'm just going with the flow.

    I'm still just really torn. Part of me thinks I'll do better work if I follow my inspiration. It's how I got so far with Desolate. I wanted it written so badly, I was doing 4K words a day. But without the inspiration? About a thousand. And I can tell when I read through my draft when I was having an off day based on my writing quality. So I worry that pushing through will just result in bad work.

    But at the same time, I'm worried that moving to a different story will be essentially killing Desolate. What if I forget stuff? I keep detailed notes, of course, but when I finally go back to it, I'll have to read through them and refamiliarize myself with the story. What if I don't like it anymore? What if I never go back to it?

    I'm not so much afraid of writing the second draft. I'm more afraid that if I don't do it while everything is still fresh in my mind, I'll never finish it. :meh: Predicaments.
     
  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Can you do a quick outline of what's in your mind right now? I often do that with scenes that feel really vivid to me but that it's not time to write yet (b/c I write from start to finish).

    Like, if I know two characters are going to have a fight, I'll write something like:

    When M and F meet up after whatever splits them up, they're mad and M throws something about F's history at her, and she says, "Of course. I forgot who I was dealing with. You never make a mistake, do you?" beat of some sort "But maybe that's because you never do anything. You just sit there being perfect, and passive, and you're scared to actually try anything in case it doesn't work out." He comes back with something defensive, she references his sister, they leave still angry.
    I can't do it for every scene because I have no idea what all the scenes are, but when something's really vivid in my mind, I type it up and use it (or not) when I get to it.

    Could you do the same for some of the things you're worried about losing, and then have them there to use (or not) when you come back to it?
     
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  16. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I typically do that for... well, pretty much everything. lol I outline my stories in that way so that I never forget specific scenes.

    I think what I really need to do if just finish outlining the second draft of Desolate. If I can get it down, then I won't be so afraid to forget things if I move to a different story. Then I can let my inspiration take me wherever it wants!
     
  17. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Part of me wants to say don't go back to Golems, it's a trick to derail your progress! cause I've been there, I've got a project that's been hanging onto me since I was fourteen that likes to play buttinski during every major project. But every writer is different so who knows - only you know what is going to work best for you. So if you feel that it would work out - go for it.
    Usually if I have ideas for my old project that won't wait - I just write them out with a date to make sure I won't loose my most up-to-date thoughts on it. But I've decided to wait until I have a few successes before returning to it. Mainly cause it's such a huge project.
     
  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think many of us- definitely me and definitely you- need to find a balance between what we want to accomplish and what we need to do to get anything at all accomplished. Do whatever it takes to get a novel, that you think can be published, fully written. That should be your goal.
     
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  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    With all due respect to your husband, who is probably only trying to help, his opinion doesn't matter on this issue. He's not the one doing the writing. There are lots of writers who work on more than one project at once, simply because they find it works for them to switch back and forth between projects if the one they're working on stalls.

    I would worry if you kept starting umpteen projects and never finished any of them, but as long as you've only got these two on the go, I'd say do what you want. This is your hobby and your husband's opinion doesn't need to be sought or followed.

    If you simply want to enjoy writing and don't care about publication, you don't actually ever have to finish any of them! If you do want to finish and maybe get published, you will need to finish at some stage. But it's all up to you—at least until you get landed with a contract to a publisher. I'd say follow your inspiration, or at least give that method a try.

    Maybe also try keeping what you're working on to yourself? That way no one will be judging you, or will find out that you're switching between several projects. Just say you'll show them the work when/if you're ready to, and that's it.
     
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  20. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    I suffer from this and I may try out new projects, but I always go back to my main project.
     

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