1. bradbradallen
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    bradbradallen Member

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    Have I lost the ability to write?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by bradbradallen, Aug 27, 2012.

    Hello everyone,

    I'm in quite the predicament - I believe I've lost the ability to write fiction. It's been roughly 6 months since I've been able to write anything of substance. About a month ago, I was able to force out 5 pages of, well, forced writing. It was nothing more than a context-less scene. Something related to a killer being forced to kill or something along those lines.

    I got 18,000 words into a story in 3 days back in February, but got burned out quickly afterwards. There was something beautiful during those 3 days, however. I couldn't stop writing. It was like the ideas had to get out, and each new idea spawned even more great ideas.

    As I said above, though, since then, it's been very dry. Like, very dry. I'll occasionally get the inspired pair of sentences and jot them down, but it's missing so much context that when I try to write, I just stare at the screen.

    Honestly, I think my problem might be lack of proper planning? The story I got 18,000 words deep into over a few days was the first story with solid planning beforehand. I spent the week prior to that nailing out major events, minor events, character bio's, etc. and the "block" only occurred once I got to a point that wasn't thought out enough to make sense.

    In my mind, it's like running. You stretch, limber up, mentally prepare, then go. The first few steps are tough, but once you get in stride, your momentum keeps you going. If you stop, though, your momentum is gone - as is some of your energy, making it tougher to re-start than it was in the beginning. In my case, I didn't continue on after stopping. It seems I decided to take a 6 month sabbatical instead -___-

    Anyone have any ideas what I can do to become inspired again? I'm beginning to think I've just lost the ability to write..
     
  2. L a u r a
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    L a u r a Senior Member

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    Step One: Think of an idea.
    It doesn’t have to be a well developed idea. It doesn’t even have to be a good idea. You could just rewrite a scene in your favorite movie or write a short story about your cat taking over the house and making you her slave (though that may already be true).

    Step Two: Write.
    Turn off your computer. Turn off your phone. Seclude yourself in your room where no one can bother you. Sit back, relax, and grab the old-fashioned pen and paper. Notice that I said PEN – not a pencil. Writing with a pen makes it harder to erase and edit as you go. Right now what I want you to do is just sit and write whatever comes to mind. Start with the simple idea that you started with at Step One, but don’t worry if you branch off into a different idea. Just go. Get your momentum back. A nice trick? Set a timer for a half an hour and see how much you can dish out. Set yourself a goal. Meet the goal. Exceed the goal.

    You haven’t lost the ability to write. You’re just worrying too much about the process. You’re making it too complicated. Too structured. That simile you had between running and writing? Brilliant. But you know what? Sometimes you don’t have time to stretch and limber up. For instance, say you take a long road trip. You sit. And sit. You drive. Miles pass, hours pass. It sucks just sitting there. Doing nothing. Your back hurts, your butt hurts, your legs hurt. Everything is sore. Then you step out of your car at a rest stop. No one else is around; miles of road lead through nothingness. It’s just you and the empty air, your legs aching from lack of use. You don’t bother to warm up. You just go.

    And it feels amazing.
     
  3. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I never truly plan out my plots ahead of time. I'll get a basic idea of the premise, and roll from there, letting it develop naturally. I, honestly, had no idea that PR would end the way it did, it just came to me 75% of the way through, while my MC battled her way through to her goal. DaD I've got an idea already, and it makes me feel forced. I might let the ending change on its own.

    I'd say let things flow on it's own, that being so rigid might be hurting your creative process. Writers, as a whole, like to fantasize a lot, and when you put limits on them, then you lose the ability to let them flow.
     
  4. bradbradallen
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    bradbradallen Member

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    To me, that's like telling a square to stop having corners and be a circle. Not saying that I can't let my "imagination flow" or what have you, but, without some structure, I find myself unable to write more than 3-5 pages of story without context.
     
  5. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    Everyone has a different process, I usually can't force myself to plan ahead, if i do, it kills all my creativity and makes my writing feel dead to me. I know others can't write without planning ahead. If you've found that that works for you, stick with it. Also, if you're in a dry spot, try reading more. I mean really read, observe things that the writers are doing, take note of the main ideas, character development, etc. It might help you find inspiration again!
     
  6. TrinityRevolution
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    TrinityRevolution Member

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    Writers block!

    There are those that suggest it doesn't exist, but I beg to differ. Some days I write with great flow and the ideas keep spawning like guppies. But then I have the days when my brain doesn't function in the sense of creation. The dots don't connect.

    What helps me is I only right when I feel like it, if I write when I don't want to, it ends up forced and stilted.

    I say start a new idea, but keep the idea of your story alive by pondering it just before sleep time. Ideas my flow.


    However, I'm sure you haven't lost your abilities, they're only lost.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But isn't it possible that that's something that should be faced and worked through? IMO, there's no harm, none at all, in writing some forced and stilted prose, or otherwise bad prose. There's nothing wrong in writing hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of words that are going to be thrown away. Just as a pianist spends countless hours playing music that isn't concert-quality, a writer will spend countless hours writing words that aren't publication-quality.
     
  8. John Eff
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    John Eff Member

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    Your other thread concerning writing/editing may have the answer to this thread. I'd suggest a start on editing the 18,000 words you've written so far, and as you go over the piece you may well find that ideas are revitalised through even the smallest of revisions.

    Whether the story is planned to the last nut and bolt ahead of time or left to find its own way, we all get stuck from time to time and instead of looking outside the story for inspiration the answer can often be found inside it.

    Good luck.
     
  9. ScaryMonster
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    ScaryMonster Active Member

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    I'm in the midst of something similar; I've really had this struggle to turn out some chapters in my story. I think the issue for me is that because in a novel, the writer has to live with the characters and plot for a long time you get fed up with it.
    You are delving into this world of your own invention much longer than anyone who will ever actually read your story for pleasure.

    I've reread some of the chapters I've struggled with, and I think they are as good if not better than some of the others that came easily. So I know my ability to write is still there.
    Furthermore, writing a chapter that is really good can make it hard to write the ones that follow because you're always trying to live up to that self expectation.
    I know some published writers who have been called geniuses and their work sublime, who have real issues writing anything else after that.
     
  10. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Some writers flow best when inspiration strikes - they grab their lap top and knock off
    page after page - without planning out anything.
    Others though, thrive on more structure. They set aside a time to write,
    they plan out each scene.
    Neither way is right they each have there bonus' and flaws.

    The trouble with planning everything is it can create boredom - things
    aren't changing you feel like you're going over everything again
    and again.

    The trouble with not planning is your story can spiral off into uncharted
    bounds with no end in sight.

    Not sure if you're trying to get back into a project or start
    a new one.
    Why not leave the old project for a while and try something
    on a smaller scale - a short story. Something with a beginning
    , middle , end. Something you can admire, tweak and feel proud
    that you've finished something.

    I've experienced a great moment in writing when I couldn't stop for
    an entire year - I carried around a clipboard and knocked off 20 pages
    a day. Haven't ever got that back - but it balances out - a lot of that
    writing wasn't very good. I might write slower now but the writings better.

    Don't give up so easily. Everyone has a dry spell. My cure -eliminate
    distractions - no t.v. , if your a gamer - cut out the games. Focus
    on reading it will inspire you and keep you in the world of writing.
     
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    My only real advice is to quit waiting for inspiration. Look at what you have; either start editing or writing new stuff for it. Or stuff it in a drawer and write something else. Write a journal. Write a short story. Write a scene. Write an outline. Write crap good enough only for the trash. But write.
     
  12. TrinityRevolution
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    TrinityRevolution Member

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    I guess it just comes down to the writer themselves. To me, I prefer to write when I can right well, and bypass the hours of pointless writing. To me, there's no need to right thousands of words with no real purpose.
     
  13. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    A completely different option, is to find a fanfiction site that deals with your favorite book, and then look for "challenges" on the forums of that site. Take up a challenge or two and write a drabble or a short story. This way, you don't have to create something from scratch. Then, once your writing is flowing again, branch back out.

    At least it's an idea!
     
  14. JamesOliv
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    JamesOliv Senior Member

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    I like to go for a walk and just thing about story ideas. So I'll walk until I come up with "a man who sells driftwood sculptures on the beach kills everybody."

    OK, so I try to think of why he might be killing everyone and how a,driftwood sculptor might go about doing it. I just let the story play out in my head a little as I walk. No writing, no pressure. I'm basically creating my own TV show in my head.

    Usually by the time I get home, I am bursting at the seems to write down my new found story.
     
  15. Michelle Stone
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    Michelle Stone Member

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    When I don't want to write, I do other related things. I come here and do reviews. That helps the author, but it helps me more. I'll do character sketches for stuff I'm working on. My characters do change, so I like to keep them up to date. Sometimes, I'll discover something in them that can add to the story, I'll make on the fly revisions. Unlike many others, I have started to do a little more reviewing as I go. It has slowed me down considerably but I feel the quality of my writing has greatly improved. I'll review my scene lists for stuff I"m working on to keep my consistency. Once in a while (more often lately) I get an idea and write a short story. Many of them have given me ideas for follow on novels or longer stories.

    Aa last resort, I'll read. I try to read a hundred books a year. I read classics, self help books, and a lot of science fiction, the genre where I produce most of my material. Right now, I'm reading Lord of the Flies. I've never read it, believe it or not. I feel it's an important work in character development.

    Michelle
     
  16. DanesDarkLand
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    DanesDarkLand Senior Member

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    This is just how I've learned to write over time, so it may not work for you. Originally, I would go to a mall, yes the hated malls, and sit there where people are moving here and there, and have a notebook handy. i wrote several chapters like this. But here's the part that is where the writing comes into play. The crap i wrote was the base of what I would revise and make into a readable series of events, through planning and research. What you write while inspired will be just crap, most of the time, but it will be the base for the whole story, or a story later. Sometimes, i just stare at the screen and have to turn it off. Other times, I have to put on some music and start reading what I've already gone through several times. It will reacquaint your mind with your story and allow you to keep writing.

    In other words, the stuff I plan to keep and hope to get published is the material that I planned by using the inspired words as a base. I hope sometime breaks through that wall in your mind soon. It can be a frustrating thing to know that your a writer and can not look at the screen, or your work and get busy doing what you like to do. I think its almost painful.
     

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