1. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Do you keep typing when you aren't feeling anything?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tea@3, Dec 20, 2015.

    alternate title: "You Can't Edit What Isn't There"

    I had a big moment yesterday which I would like to share.

    I have not written regularly in a few years. My two weeks of vacation began Friday Dec. 18th and I decided to dedicate this holiday period to resuming my writing life. So yesterday I went to my desk and turned on the computer and pulled up my half-finished novel to begin reading over it to refresh myself.

    As I read over my story it felt kinda foreign to me. I couldn't 'feel' the story like I once did back when I was constructing those chapters originally. This discouraged me a bit, but I kept sitting there, determined to exercise discipline over myself and at least remain in the chair, so I may at least accomplish that if nothing else! I tried to figure what to do as I reread some of my rough scenes. When I looked over my outline it seemed foreign to me too. I pondered starting an altogether new story just to kickstart myself.

    As I sat there considering ditching this novel for a new project, I had on my screen the brief opening of a short scene, one I had left unfinished years ago. It was just a few sentences of a guy walking into a restaurant. Out of frustration I told myself 'just fill in the nuts and bolts of what happens in this scene then click save, so at least you can say you did something today.'

    So I just started typing, very basic, uninspired, just to get the character moving around in the setting since I did remember what he was supposed to do. (the 'beat' of the scene, as we say in screenwriting) It wasn't sexy, I wasn't feeling anything about the stuff I was typing while I was typing it, but I knew logically what was to come next so I just kept adding the next thing, then the next thing, and so on.

    Before I realized it I had 1,100 words. (these are brand new words from scratch, which never existed before I sat down yesterday)

    As a tiny bonus for me, within these 1,100 words was a new element to the scene which I had never thought of before, something that was never in my original concept, it just popped up as I was typing out "what happens next, what happens next, and next."

    I wasn't even aware how long this all took, probably about two hours. When I came to a stopping point I left home to go walk the track, and that is when the epiphany hit me:

    It dawned on me that this is what they mean when they say 'you can't edit nothing'.

    (a phrase I have heard for years, and never got until now)

    The exact words I told myself as I began 'just typing the actions in the scene' were "first drafts are not meant to be perfect anyway, so get down the 'what' occurring in the scene then if it needs spicing up or tweaking you can come back and do that later."

    And, moreover, "you can't know what's missing until you read over it later, anyway. Duh"

    (That would be like trying to count the missing people during a fire drill BEFORE the alarm sounds, lol)

    IOW the writer can't 'pre-visualize' the missing elements to add them in before hand. By definition, they can't be missing until something has first been written and they are noticed as absent.

    Anyway...

    Back to Keep Typing Anyway Even When You Aren't Feeling Anything:

    By forcing myself to get down SOMETHING, just anything, I inadvertently started the mechanism rolling that fills in the gaps, the ones I can't think of in advance. I have always been a 'mood writer' and I think yesterday I learned the folly of that. By just starting to type, I filled in the scene with confidence that I can peek at it later to see what I may want to add, or change. This is extremely empowering for me because it relieves me of my 'perfectionism' mindset of wanting to know the BEST RIGHT thing to get down in the scene. So instead now I will just type away, and fix it later. (if it needs fixing)

    Yep, I think that's the main strength of 'you can't edit nothing' is that it slays one's perfectionism, and gives you permission to make mistakes, maybe to even feel good about your mistakes.

    So I learned my lesson for good. I will no longer be a 'must be in the mood' writer. I vow to write anyway, even if I am not 'feeling' anything about it.

    I can see this "just get typing" method can be a huge confidence builder.

    :cheerleader:
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
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  2. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I refrain from writing when not 'feeling' it, because then it typically gets deleted due to not being the best way to propel the story forward.
     
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  3. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    That is exactly how I have always done it, until now.

    I am a huge Kurt Wimmer fan too. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
  4. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't write the main story, instead I go an do a bit more research or world building, the later being something I enjoy and helping to serve as an inspiration.
     
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  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I find if I want to write and it's not happening because I'm not feeling it, that means I need to think a bit more. Sometimes I go for a walk, which usually solves the problem, or just sit (sometimes with music) and visualise the scene happening. If I can capture bits of dialogue or a clear vision of what my characters are doing, this solves the problem. Sooner or later the spark comes. What does NOT work for me is just sitting and typing, pegging away at an idea that's not quite working. However, that method seems to work for others, so fair enough.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015
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  6. oTTo
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    oTTo Member

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    I have several unfinished works. One work was at 40,000 +/- words, I cut it back to 10,000. I am still editing and reviewing that one, and the larger work it came from. Removed was most major, bigger story arc stuff. My feelings were that characters were boring, flat, and undeveloped. Another work I wrote almost a decade ago, a short, and I have edited it, but still go back and work with it. Most of my new works I need to view how you said, like a draft and add more detail later. Get the what out first, then go back and add what I can actually see is missing. Laying the bricks, I can't know I did something small wrong if I do not look at the entire masterpiece, noticing one brick off at the end. Great read, great insights into myself. Thank you
     
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  7. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Maybe my OP was too long?

    I guess what I am trying to say is three things:

    1--Writers tend to look for reasons to not get started on a session. (procrastination) Firing off a beginning to something when you don't really know where it's headed, can tap the well sometimes.

    2--Writers tend to suffer from low confidence about their work. Just diving in can spark something, is what I meant.

    3--It's okay to type out some stuff that's not perfect, just to get you going. Or, everything doesn't have to be 'perfectly pre-conceived' before you begin, in order to get started typing. (gotta break some eggs to make an omelette)

    :write:
     
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  8. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Exactly, exactly. :supercool:
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I keep writing. I think in my case I have to in order to break through to where I'm feeling it again.
     
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  10. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    There are times when I feel like I need to live, experience or 'discover' something for a scene which sometimes puts my writing on hold. In my recent WIP I had come up to a scene where my mc was to try on some clothes. I looked over websites, searching for something just right and then one Saturday I was down by the canal and a girl walked by wearing a neon t shirt reading Live The Dream. It was so ironic to the scene that for me that was the t shirt slogan I needed. The scene flowed pretty well after that. And oddly enough because I was looking and thinking about my story I didn't have to wait long.

    But for the most part I do think my 'not feeling it' is sheer procrastination. And for the most part I rarely start writing each day in the mood or feeling it. It's actually something I have to generate through the writing. Right now I'm working on a scene that I'd previously written and lost and I'm trying to plow through without being irritated or worried that the old scene was better. It's little things like that that can really steal your time and concentration over nothing.

    I'm glad you found a technique that's working for you, Tea! That's half the battle of writing - finding out what works.
     
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  11. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    This ^^
     
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  12. sidtvicious
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    sidtvicious Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm a momentum person. I write through lack of inspiration. I also avoid using the "delete" button when writing my first drafts. I'm throwing things at a blank canvas and seeing what sticks. I'll pick through what I've written the previous day and polish it before jumping back in. Sometimes I save words in the hundreds and thousands other times it's one or two sentences.
     
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  13. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it depends on how long your non-inspired streak lasts. If you're long-term uninspired, then, sure, you may as well sit down and try to power through it. But if it's a short-term thing?

    I think it's important to take breaks now and then, and give yourself permission to recharge your creative batteries. If I have a few days when I don't feel like writing, I don't write. I try to consume some creativity (books, TV, movies, video games, whatever) and wait until something clicks and makes me excited again.

    This is going to be another situation that varies from writer to writer, I predict. Might as well experiment and figure out what works for you. Or what works for you in a given situation, understanding that something totally different might work for you next time!

    Nothing about writing is an exact science.
     
  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am almost never inspired when writing fiction. And on those rare occasions when I am, the product isn't noticeably better--in fact, it might actually be worse. And I very often like what I've written, no matter how laborious I found the writing process.

    So the only way I'm ever going to finish a book is to regularly chain myself to a chair.
     
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  15. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Great post.

    However, this is why I think it's good if you can finish your first draft within the first several months after its conception. That way, the entire first draft was written under inspiration, and then, months later, you can go back to it with a more clinical approach.
     
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  16. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    First, love the 2am post time!

    Totally agree with that. I won't go deep into the reasons this ms was abandoned way back when, but... My writing life has been on again off again for too many years, which I acknowledge and take responsibility for.

    But yes I totally agree with you that finishing within a shorter frame is best. Thanks for that input.

    In fact, I think the ideal scenario (for me) would be to start and complete a novel every 90 days, happening entirely within that 90 day period. As I re-strike my routines over the holidays, this is what I hope to settle in to from now on.
     
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  17. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    How's the story coming long? I think once I complete my first draft as some point whether it be starting my 2nd draft of my 3rd, I want it to feel foreign to me because I think then I will be my most critical and I will be able to truly judge my work in order to make it better. While still writing my 1st draft, there have been moments where I stepped a way for a day or two or in the course of 7 days I maybe got 1,000 words, if that. I hate when I don't devote myself (I just started watching Mad Men and in the last week I have made it to season 3). Sometimes when you stop writing for a bit, yes your work can feel a bit strange but I try to not read more than the last page I previously wrote just to see where I left off. In fact I probably only read the last paragraph and then I push myself to continue.
     
  18. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm much the same way. If I only wrote when "inspired" or when "the muse strikes" then I'd never write again. I often wonder if such things really are just a euphemism for procrastination--I know in my case it certainly would be. Sure, sometimes it's difficult to overcome the inertia of not-writing, but you just have to. And then, lo and behold, the words start coming.

    I can understand that some people can't "force themselves" to write (though I'm not a fan of that phrasing), but I fail to understand how someone can ever finish anything if he or she only writes when "inspired." Unless you get inspired a lot. In which case, hook me up with some of that.
     
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  19. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    Yes, this is where being disciplined come into play.
     
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  20. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    For me, I trick my mind by freewriting for ten minutes before my writing session. Once I'm done with my freewriting, I'm already primed to write some stuff.
     
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  21. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    My inspired phase lasts about three months- first month, raw inspiration, second month, exhaust fumes, third month, renewed inspiration from being close to the finish line. Which is why I'm saying to get the first draft done is quickly as possible. You don't necessarily even want to be inspired during the editing phase, so editing after that phase works in your favor.
     
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  22. Cappy and Pegody
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    Cappy and Pegody Member

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    I write by the scene. Recently I spent 3 days working out a space battle in my head. Day dreaming and picturing the choreography of it. Then I sat down and wrote it a pitched fight on 3 levels as a group of space pirates attack our freighter. In the fight we lost a crew member and I spent a few days thinking about the person lost h=and his dynamics in the crew. Then I sat down and wrote the funeral section. Now I am thinking about the next leg of the journey as an interlude between major plot scenes. It is a little slow at the moment cause I gotta play Santa. :D
    [​IMG]
    I mean when ya look this good it's hard not to!!:p
     
  23. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The best advice a pro fiction writer gave me was treat writing like a job if that's what you want to be. You don't always feel like doing whatever your job is but you do it. Professional writers are the same way. They don't always feel like writing but they have to anyway.
     
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  24. oTTo
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    Too right.
     
  25. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Cool! That's pretty much what I did Saturday, the session I shared above. Thing is, I hadn't planned it, I just discovered it by accident.

    I like it even better the way you described it here, in that you 'direct' it, controlling it. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015

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