1. Toreshi_Tobin
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    Toreshi_Tobin New Member

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    Does anyone else have these problems?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Toreshi_Tobin, Sep 11, 2011.

    I have two major problems that have plagued me since I first started writing back in the third grade. The first is that I never seem to be able to finish a story. In all my years of writing I've completed precisely one work...a fan-fiction that I wrote back in junior high. Ironically it's been rather popular on FanFiction.net and I still to this day receive notifications in my email that someone has reviewed it. However, anything else I've ever written has gotten halted for one reason or another and I've never managed to finish any of them, even after returning to them dozens of times.

    My other problem is being completely and utterly unable to concentrate on one story at a time. No matter how hard I try, or how much I insist I'm going to dedicate myself this time, I always end up working on several things at once...I figure this is part of the reason I can never seem to finish anything. At this moment I am working on a novel I've been writing for over seven years now, a fan-fiction novel I've been working on for about five years, a romance novelette that I'm HOPING to get published, and a new story I just thought up about a month ago. I can't seem to manage to commit myself. I'll write two or three chapters of one of them, but I'll be unable to stop thinking about one of the others and eventually give in and start working on that one. I'll go round and round, and sometimes completely start over on something that I don't feel is working properly, and never get any significant amount of work done on any of them.

    I can't be the only one that has these issues, can I?
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    No, they're widespread issues, and there isn't really one particular solution. You need to try things out, to find your own.

    It might be that detailed planning helps you to find the momentum and direction you need to finish a story. Or the opposite might be true. If you're trying to write novel-length works, perhaps you should begin with something shorter (though be aware that short stories aren't simply "novels in miniature"). Once you get the taste of a completed piece, it becomes pretty intoxicating.

    Of course, a large part of it may be that you have to make yourself see a project through to completion. Being a writer (if you mean it as a career, or even as a serious venture) isn't just about writing when you feel like it, but also when you don't feel like it. It's a bit of a dangerous road, since forcing yourself through something you've lost passion for can result in a sub-standard finished product, but a) you may reignite your interest, and b) once you've got a first draft actually written, it's much easier to sand down corners and clean up parts in editing.
     
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with the "make yourself", most definitely. There is only one way to finish a story - discipline. Yes, there will be parts that you wish were over (which may mean they need to be redone or just that you're impatient to get on with the next part), and yes, there will be parts that drive you mad because you can't get it 'just right' - but the only way to get through them and finish is to sit down and finish it. No magic formula. No system. Just you.
     
  4. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    You're absolutely not the only one. I've been writing for over fifteen years, and only completed my first novel and put it out for publishing last year. I have probably sixty more in various stages of completion, quite a few of them hundreds of pages long. And only yesterday I started another one instead of continuing the edit on the one I'm getting ready to publish in another month or so.

    Its a pain sometimes, but then since I write for me, not such a terrible one. What I did find helpful was actually having a way of publishing them in the kindle. It allowed me to take a few of the almost finished novels and actually finish them, edit them and get them out there. It became a sort of goal which helped me focus on just one book at a time. Otherwise I'd still be tapping away at the keys on maybe another dozen novels and also when the mood took me, returning to the older ones and getting them closer to the end as well.

    One thing I am sure of though, is that it's very difficult to 'make yourself' do anything, especially writing. You'll just end up hating it. What you have to do is find a reason to want to. Then even the dull dross becomes endurable as you aim for your goal. So my advice would be to take the piece that's closest to finished, and that you love the most, and then try to imagine what it would be like to see it finished and in print, how good it would feel. (And believe me, when each new book comes out, its a wonderful feeling. Part relief as you've finally done it, part joy in seeing it out there.)

    Cheers.
     
  5. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I have often started a story and lost interest over time. It's not a rare thing to have that problem. However, I save whatever I've got written from failed stories so I can recycle or use it for another story.
     
  6. Faust
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    Faust Contributing Member Supporter

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    I have the same problems lol.

    I am working on dedicating no less than an hour a day to writing and I'll try to keep the max around three. That way I can at least a little bit done, but don't 'overextend' myself and get bored. Of course, there are moments where the writing is hot and just keeps flowing lol.

    So find a quiet place and write for an hour; regardless of what you write or of what length. That should be a good start, once it becomes a habit you can adjust it accordingly, usually an hour isn't hard to fit in somewhere, it doesn't have to be the same time of day, every day lol.
     
  7. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've always had this problem. I've found that the key to finishing a piece is to actually have some emotional interest in it. If you come up with an idea, ask yourself whether you like it just because you think it's cool, or because it's actually your story.

    When it means something to you, when you're writing it when you're in an emotional state, then you'll likely find it easier to finish it. Good luck.
     
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  8. LostInFiction
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    LostInFiction Senior Member

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    I agree, it's really tough to stick with one idea and see it through. I've got just a few pieces of work that I've ever managed to finish and a novel on the go that is over half-way and I have no issue keeping engaged in. The key for me has been writing something that keeps me inspired and engaged. I have lots of half written and barely thought through ideas that were shelved early on and I think the main issue was that I wasn't really engaged enough with the ideas before I started the writing and they lost my interest.
    Good luck!
     
  9. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Many people do write two or more stories/novels simultaneously to prevent writers' block. When they are stuck in one story, they just start writing another one, and then come back later to the first story. It's a very good strategy if you can manage it, but clearly you are not one of them, and I am not one of them either. So, my strategy is to eat, sleep, dream a story until I complete it. Setting a deadline helps, no wonder most of my completed stories are written for story competitions. My advice for you is to start with short stories, complete them, and get used to the satisfaction of finishing your stories. This will help you endure the workload of writing a novel. Remember, the sight of the finish line makes a marathon runner sprint toward the end.
     
  10. Heather
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    Heather Contributing Member

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    As already mentioned above, a lot of people have these problems. I think it is just natural - it doesn't just happen with writing but a lot of things in life (like exersise, as an example for me). I can, and have, finished many poems and short stories over the years, but have year to finish a single novel - even the ones I have been 'working on' for several years now. I loose interest, or I get a different idea, or general life takes over, and finishing college work, or going to work, becomes more important.

    I think you have to decide how important your novel(s) is to you. For me, at least for now, it is just a hobby - writing is something I do when I have an idea and I want to, and as annoying as it is, it doesn't overly affect me if I don't finish a novel. You may be the same, and that's not a bad thing. However, if you do decide that finishing you novels if very important to you, you will get to stages where you almost have to force youself to continue. Like with anything, there are good and bad bits, easy and hard bits, and you can't expect to finish something without having to really push yourself to do it.
     
  11. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    There have been plenty of days where I did not want to write for my current project. I made myself. I sat down and sometimes didn't write anything for a half-hour or more. But, as always, I eventually struggled through. The primary reason, at least for me, is that the scenes I don't want to write are simply out of my comfort zone. They're tough scenes to write. But despite that, I tell myself all the time, I'm going to finish what I start. And that is what you must do.
     
  12. topeka sal
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    topeka sal Senior Member

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    Oh the fragments! The beautiful, doomed fragments! I've got piles of 'em. Yet I don't consider any of them a waste of time. Ideas are generated, the writing muscle is worked, and I've had the pleasure of writing them, regardless of where they've gone (into finished piece or drawer).

    So, firstly, don't despair! It's all a part of any creative practice. Think of artist's sketches and all the musical fragments, false starts and discard that form the background to any finished album.

    Yes. I've recently discovered competitions and they're a great motivator for those of us who sometimes need an outside push. The drawback is there's usually a fee for entering, but to me it's worth it. So far I've only entered two for which I've written a new story from start to finish. I even made the deadlines with ten or twenty minutes to spare!! Weeeeee! Talk about focus and adrenaline! While the stories are probably flawed because, in these two cases, I lacked the time and distance to thoroughly revise before sending them, I accomplished what I'd set out to do, which was to FINISH! When the competitions are over I'll have two good drafts to revise and send out to publications. Whatever the outcome, this is a victory for me.

    The other thing that is currently helping me is giving myself permission to write badly, sketchily, on the first draft. I'm finding it's much easier to get a full, completed draft this way than to labour over every word at the outset, which is one of my problems.

    Good luck! You're not alone!
     
  13. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    This is good advice. I write a lot of stories for specific anthologies, and the theme and deadline do give a certain direction and urgency to writing.
     
  14. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think CruciFICTION hit the nail on the head. You have to be emotionally invested in what you are doing. Some writers, I think, hold back out of fear that what they write may not be as good as they would like it to be. Once that happens, there are all sorts of ways to keep from finishing a work.

    The thing is, I find that there are times when indirection is useful. There are times when you do lose the passion, and sometimes working on a different idea for a while can help get the juices flowing again. The thing is to know yourself, know what you need and then stick to it.

    Good luck.
     
  15. NaughtyNick
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    NaughtyNick Member

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    I couldn't write two stories simultaneously. I'd get confused. I am a bloke after all....we can't do that sort of thing.
     
  16. Toreshi_Tobin
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    Toreshi_Tobin New Member

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    Thanks for the replies, everyone. :)
    It's nice to know that I'm not alone, anyway, and there were also some interesting bits of advice, which I thank you for!

    I just can't seem to concentrate on one thing at a time I guess...maybe I've got some form of adult ADD. lol I actually am quite emotionally vested in at least two of the novels I'm working on...one is based (loosely) on events from my real life, and another is one that I have a major love-hate relationship with and am determined to have published eventually. Maybe I should start setting myself some deadlines, as mentioned. NaNoWriMo is always a great motivator for me...maybe I should start doing my own monthly word-count deadline. You never know...it could help!
     
  17. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    A few members here have taken to including their most recent word count in their signature lines or in posts. When I felt myself flagging, I started posting word count milestones in the Happiness Thread. I don't endorse the idea of word-count deadlines, because I don't believe that it's better to write something you know isn't useful than to write nothing at all. I think sometimes you just need to back off and reflect, or just get away from it for a time. But posting word counts has the benefit of garnering encouragement from your friends here, and that's helpful.
     
  18. MarmaladeQueen
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    MarmaladeQueen Senior Member

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    I don't know how many years it is since you were in the third grade, but if you've only ever finished one story then you have a major problem. I never throw aything away, which means that I have folders of unfinished stuff, but I also have a lot of finished work, including an 80,000 word novel. Only you can work out how you're going to change. I'm not a natural finisher/completer but years of working (in IT management in my case) has taught me the discipline to get the damned job finished.

    Deadlines undoubtedly help. At the moment I'm entering the "weekly" short story compeition on here every two weeks. It's good discipline. Being give the theme, or a set character, or an opening sequence, means I have to stretch myself out of my comfort zone as a writer. You could try that.

    Good luck!
     
  19. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with who says it's all about discipline. if working on several novels/stories at the same time doesn't work you need to try something else, and try to stick to a project long enough to complete it. discipline. It sounds boring but if you want to finish it then eventually I think you will have to. You can always encourage yourself with the thought of how nice it will be when you finally have put the word "end" in the ms. :D
     
  20. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I used to have this problem, and kind of still have it, but it's under control now. I can come up with different and large story concepts several times a week. What I have ended up with is a system that weeds out the bad, so only the REALLY good ideas are left. And if you think the idea is really good, you are more motivated to keep going and coming back to it. First of all, I have a word doc called random plots. I'll write some title and a brief description of the concept, maybe a little bit about characters if it's a particularly character driven story. Then I leave it for a week, look at it again and ask myself if I still have passion for this project. Have I been plotting in my head while waiting in anticipation for the day I could start writing? If I have, then I write down as much as I have, and when I'm done I try to structure it a bit. Again, I leave it for a week. Still sound good? You can probably start writing. I on the other hand have so many ideas that reach even that stage, that I have to make sure I can write a complete plot outline from start to finish. It will probably change under the way as I start writing, but I need to know I can at least finish it before I start. And if you know exactly what is happening, how every scene is going to start and end, you can just focus on writing the best as you can. Then editing won't be such a b!tch and you won't need inspiration. Actually, I never write while inspired. I just plot, then write when I calm down.
     
  21. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think this is an excellent advice if you tend to come up with that many story ideas. :) somehow you need to filter the ones that you will be able to finish from the ones that are just a thought or a fragment of an idea and choose the best ones, the ones that engage you the most.
     
  22. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    There are some stories that just fizzle, and they should be set aside until inspired again.

    If you can't finish any, then you need to focus on something to the end.(Good or bad)

    I usually have two stories I work on, Currently I actually have three, but the extra is a short story I am doing for something smaller, easier to finish. Novels take time to finish, smaller works can be a way to get out of the no end in sight stories. Give you that feeling of completing something.

    Probably the best answer would be to look at why you don't finish the story.
    Do you not want it to end? Love the characters and world so much?
    Do you write yourself into a dead end, with no way to get to a good end?
    Does something else inspire you and you charge off in another direction?
     

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