1. AnrBjotk
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    AnrBjotk Member

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    Hitting a wall, total rewrite or editing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by AnrBjotk, Jun 10, 2012.

    Ok, so I feel like I'm hitting a wall. And going insane.

    I write when I have the time. Which isn't much. Maybe an hour a day.
    I wrote the novel in three months, got rejected, and trying to rewrite.
    But it's not going well.
    What I have now is like a hundred different documents with paragraphs, sentences and chapters.

    But it's like I'm suffocated. I want to move, but can't. I want it to be fresh, immediate and clean. But I try and write and it's like running from one part of town to the other.

    I want to just start fresh, but there are all these great sentences that I can't just delete. It's like all the paragraphs I've written are suffocating me, and I can't do anything, except bang my head against a wall. I can't just abandon all I've written and start from scratch. I hate everything I write, and yet I can't just ignore it either...

    This has to be a common problem. What do you do?
     
  2. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    calm down first. go do something else. come back, read what you've got. if you still feel like you can't do anything with this. move one. forget it all, and start new.
    ''great sentences that I can't just delete. '' you'll write better ones soon or later.
    maybe what you need it to plot the story first and write afterwards. good luck
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Great sentences that you just can't delete don't exist - you'll always write better, and whether you delete it is just a matter of choice. It's called tough love. If it's not moving you forward, then it's no good. Chop off the dead arm or it'll eat your whole body too.

    Consider this, I ditched 80k words before I got my first draft, and guess what, I just deleted 2 whole chapters :D I lobbed about 5k words and I have probably lobbed off more but I can't tell, since I'm also writing and adding back onto the word count. You think there weren't "sentences that I just can't delete" in that chunk of work? Of course there is! But you do what you must.

    Start a new file. No one's saying you cannot use what you've written already. Look over what you have - how can you use this piece in your current version of your novel? If you can find a slot for it, save it in the backlog and insert it when the time comes. If you can't find a slot for it, keep the file, no one's saying "delete". It's just using a new file for your work :rolleyes: It's a psychological trick, but it works. The first time I had to ditch about 20k words, I went through my entire draft and separated scenes and sentences I liked into one file, and other things I didn't like into a different file. Then I tried to work the stuff I liked in to my new novel. Nothing was "deleted" you see - it was simply not included.

    But sometimes, it's good to let things die. In my experience, trying to work too much old stuff into your new, especially if the new doesn't resemble the old that much, doesn't really work very well.

    You get used to it. It's a skill you just have to learn. It gets better as you move on, because guess what, you always find that you end up writing something much, much better, and it couldn't have happened if you hadn't got rid of what you did. Let your work fly and transform - don't stifle it because somehow you want it to be the same as your old work. Your old work is cool, sure, but guess what, you can always, always do better - you just don't know it yet.

    And it's not wasted time either. It's called practice, and practice makes perfect. It's never a waste of time, even if you never use it, and no one ever reads it. But you have to get past yourself. You are your greatest obstacle.
     
  4. AnrBjotk
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    AnrBjotk Member

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    Thanks.

    I guess the point is that I've tried to copy and paste old sentences into the new work for two months now and it's just not working.
    It's hard to explain - maybe that's why I won't be an author I can't explain anything - but I'm afraid to start a-new and yet suffocated by the old.
    It's like starting fresh means admitting I failed.

    And then it's the moment, like now, where every sentence seems off. Like they just don't work at all.
    Take the following:

    "Like all catastrophes the budding seed must lie in the details. The weaving of moments and incidents. There is a moment in time, there must be, where a certain event becomes chiselled in rock, the crossroads of small moments, where only one outcome remains. These same small moments that brought her to him, would eventually take her away"

    Somehow this is wrong. It doesn't make any sense.
    It's like pulling teeth.
    It just won't happen. A terrible insecurity has appeared, and it seems hopeless to even try.

    I guess I'll have to quit for now. Try again tomorrow. Perhaps just start from scratch. I do know where I want it to go, but it's getting there, making it seem likely, that is so hard.

    I want to write, but why can't I?
     
  5. maidahl
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    maidahl Banned

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    Original ideas are original when you don't try to make it original. Else, you are still making your attempts based on a comparison to established convention. I learned that from Charles Dickens. Try reading when you get discouraged. I've found it helps me!
     
  6. AnrBjotk
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    AnrBjotk Member

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    Actually, I think that is the problem... When I write I sit with ten open books, reading random sentences to get ideas. A year ago, at my "peak", I wrote on my own. But after getting rejected, I have zero confidence and don't trust my own sentences...
     
  7. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    if it's a confidence issue, only you can get yourself out of this, you must learn to trust your writing. you'll get better.

    my writing has not been rejected yet, so I don't know how it feels to be honest. but as everything bad in this world it should motivate you to do better.
     
  8. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Rejections are part of the game of writing. JKR's Harry Potter had over 30 rejections, Stephen King had a load of rejections and so did a lot of other people, so don't take it personally and don't let a rejection get you down.
     
  9. AnrBjotk
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    AnrBjotk Member

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    I wont. Or... I thought I wouldn't... At first I just thought "great! I get to spend more time on this thing. And make it really good." But then, I just lost it. I imagine being just another pathetic loser who thinks he's somebody.
    I guess the point is that I'm still at the stage where I can write descent sentences and paragraphs; But stringing them together, making a coherent story, just isn't happening right now.
    But I'll keep trying. No rush, I guess.... Unless I get cancer of course.

    It's like... I need to get away. To another computer where I can't look back on the old paragraphs...Stupid, but like someone said above, it's psychological tricks...
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Remember the old adage that says when the horse throws you, you should get right back on him and try again. You can't let yourself become afraid of the horse or of being thrown; you'll never master him that way. You'll lose all your confidence and you'll never be a writer - sorry, "rider." (Convenient that those words sound similar, isn't it?)

    Almost every writer who ever lived has been rejected. Most of them many times. If they all lost confidence after one rejection, there would be no literature.

    And all those great sentences that you just can't delete? They're the sentences that got you rejected. Scrap them. I mean, if you like them, keep them in a separate file so you can enjoy them at your leisure, but don't put them in your story. As others have said, just write better. With practice you'll do that - in time, you'll EAGERLY do that - and when you do, you can go back to your file of great sentences that you couldn't delete, see them for what they are, and delete them with great glee.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    To me, the choice is wether to back-burner it, start fresh with it, or try to repair it. I never really discard an idea completely.

    But which of the other three choices depends totally on how I feel about the story at that time. If I feel I got a false start, and have a clear idea of a new direction, I start a blank draft. If I think most of the story works, but needs a lot of adjusting, I may choose to make a copy of my current draft, and start editing that. If I am not feeling the momentum, I put the current draft aside.

    I NEVER throw out a draft. Keep a trail from your earliest notes, through every draft, to your current manuscript.

    But which choice to make, only you can decide.
     
  12. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay, maybe you left out some details I am supposed to assume, but just to clarify...

    1. Did you revise after you wrote? Writing the novel in three months doesn't mean it's necessarily ready for agents.

    2. How many times did you get rejected? Very few of us will get accepted right away.

    Don't give up just because you got rejected. Make sure it's properly polished. One thing I'd do is find a knowledgeable friend who you trust and ask them to look at some chapters and give advice. Another pair of eyes made all the difference for me. Especially if you feel suffocated by the writing, having somebody else work with you through some of the revisions could give you some air.
     
  13. BeepBeep
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    BeepBeep New Member

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    I'll tell you something that worked wonderfully for me, and although it may sound silly, it's worth a try.

    Just print your work in paper. Easy as that. When I feel my story is crumbling into pieces I just can't stand browsing and searching through Word documents. It makes me feel ill, really. I like papers and pages and spreading sheets all over the floor.
    Take some markers: red for characters, green for plot, blue for setting, or whatever you like. Write some brief (BRIEF! :p) notes in the margins about those little things you think that are wrong. Eventually you are going to notice that one or two of those colours is more predominant than the others and you'll know where to work harder. Then, using those notes and a little database to keep track of pages and things to edit, I like to work on every page untill every note is crossed out and therefore, fixed. I really love this process of editing and revising; others don't seem to enjoy it so much.

    Also, keep in mind that if you don't love your work, you can't expect others to do it. Love is blind, just have a little faith in yourself.
     
  14. twelveninetysix
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    twelveninetysix Member

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    I know what you mean about getting it on paper, BeepBeep. Not only is it easier to edit - all those words stop becoming a burden and become an achievement. There's a definite sense of, "I wrote this. I made it. Regardless of whether it sucks, I managed to write all this."

    Also, definitely do not delete things. Not only for psychological trickery purposes but because you might suddenly realize later you needed that one bit all along. Also it really helps you to see how far you've come.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Most importantly, keeping all your early notes and drafts is your best evidence if someone tries to jump your copyright claim.
     
  16. Jethelin
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    Jethelin Member

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    I just began work on my first rewrite and have to advise taking a step back from your work and maybe try writing something else for a bit. Just a few days or a month, or whatever you need. When you come back you will hopefully be able to look at it from a refreshed and ready perspective. I took nearly two weeks off from my WIP before I began the task of rewriting all 97,000 and some odd words.

    I was in nearly the same situation as you are in when I finished my first draft. Nothing seemed right and the work it would take to rewrite the mess seemed like a life-sucking task. I tried just editing from my first draft to up the quality but eventual got fed up. As soon as I worked up the motivation to rewrite it and put my first words on the paper it was like a weight was lifted off my chest and the quality has improved in huge ways.

    My advice is to save you old work, take a break, and just start it without over thinking it. Take your time rewriting and don't stress. Printing and attacking your paper with a nice red pen also helps.
     
  17. Lovelina
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    Lovelina Member

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    Why don't you take a break? If you can afford it, take a vacation to somewhere that you deem inspiring. If you have a car, take a spontaneous road trip to no where. Get lost on purpose! Those activities usually help me when I'm feeling underwhelmed, uninspired, troubled or unmotivated. Hopefully you'll come back with a new resolve to your problem.
     
  18. Lovelina
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    Lovelina Member

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    By the way, what you wrote seems perfectly fine to me, but you are obviously suffering. Are you sure this isn't about the rejection from the publisher? Perhaps the rejection makes you think that your writing is unworthy even though you love what you did. I don't know. You are in a lot of pain and frustration, I can tell. *hugs*
     
  19. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    It's really difficult to edit or change something that you feel so passionate about but the best advice I was ever given at school was that it doesn't matter how beautiful a sentence is, if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. If you're capable of writing one beautiful sentence (paragraph, chapter, etc) you can write another.

    I'm not up to the editing stage yet but I can understand your frustration. Hopefully posting about it here will give you some relief.
     
  20. AnrBjotk
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    AnrBjotk Member

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    Something dawned on me on the bus today: Writing a character like the one I'm writing, a character like, say, Benjamin in "The Graduate", is really, really hard! Because you have just that character, his problems and very little to relate to. It would seem some what easier to write a character that is, say, a gym teacher; Because then you can "fill space" by writing about the school, the politics of it, the students, the building, etc. In my novel it is just one young man dealing with a break-up... That's why I'm stuck. There isn't any... info I can get into.

    I wanted to write about the characters interest in philosophy.... but that is really hard to do, without getting preachy... Know what I mean?

    Dunno if this makes any sense... Does it?
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Show his interests and struggles through interactions with other characters.

    And yes, it isn't particularly easy. Read how other authors reveal character interests and probnlems, especially in third person narratives where the author doesn't provide direct access into a character's thoughts.
     
  22. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ummm... yeah-- of course it's extremely difficult, if not impossible to write a character you can't relate to. I'd say you should avoid writing words that just "fill space" -- that sounds like awfully dull writing. You're creating a world, scenes, people. They have to seem like living, breathing people with real concerns. You say you are writing about a break-up -- that's about as universal as it gets. Everyone wants to be loved and is upset when they thought they had it but that assumption proves incorrect. If you want to write about a gym teacher, write about a gym teacher. I assume you say it would be easier to write about a gym teacher because you have some familiarity with the position. Very often people write about people who have jobs that are very similar to jobs they have or have had. (Ever notice how many books and movies revolve around some kind of writer?)

    Why do you want to write about the characters' interest in philosophy? I hope it's because YOU have some interest in philosophy. If you don't, that will be very difficult. Not impossible, but you'd need to study philosophy so you can explain what it is your character likes about it. If you can't do that, pick another interest.

     
  23. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    You should organize your thoughts so you can cope with it all.

    Try making one document on your computer for every chapter, it really helps. Sounds to me like you rushed the work. Take your time. You can either edit it, re-write it, or scrap it. There's no one right answer here, you have to decide. What I think I would do in your place is re-write it, but use what you have as a template to help you. Move slowly through the re-write. Write a chapter, and try to perfect as much as possible before moving on. You want to keep what you are writing fresh in your mind, so constantly read your work that way you can have a nice, flowing story that doesn't seem like 'a bunch of paragraphs' and therefore won't drive you nuts! good luck pal!
     
  24. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I vote for a rewrite. I've done it several times now and the result and time spent is always worth it.
     
  25. AnrBjotk
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    AnrBjotk Member

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    Well, ok... The big breakthrough for me came when writing third person. The "distance" that created was liberating and inspiring like you wouldn't believe...
    And that is sort of the point; I'm not a gym teacher, nor do I know anything about them. But somehow, for me, writing about someone I don't know about is much more rewarding. It's like I'm discovering something together with the imagined reader.
    However, so far I have been "writing what I know", meaning writing a character that is autobiographical: A student, a deep love for philosophy and the search for truth; a lonely isolated person who wants to reach out but gets burned; A lonely soul and a thorough outsider. This is what I know. But, it's hard to write about... It's too close somehow. And, my own life is spent alone, occasionally with some friends... And that makes it hard to write, when there is little interaction for the character to grow from (after all, at this stage, it's essential that the character is an outsider, a loner).
    I meant its easier to write about a gym teacher because I can elaborate the character by his relationship with the school, the job, the students, the colleagues, and so on: There is a lot to sort of explain the character without being preachy or direct ... There is enough to talk about the environment.
    A loner... well, I can write a hundred times in a hundred different ways how lonely he is, but that gets old pretty quick.

    So, the main points: - Somehow writing about lives I'm unfamiliar with is exciting, it really is like visiting a new world, and... it's easier to manage to capture all aspects; Writing about myself I make the mistake of taking things for granted, I've told the story before, forgetting this is not a conversation, but a "bio" (sort of)
    - But, I want the story to be about a loner, who loses love, and how he desperatly tries to find meaning. Ever since he was a child, he's looked for meaning. The novel will take place at the pinnacle of this search... The core time of the search. (Very much like The Graduate or Catcher in the Rye; A loner or outsider looking for meaning.... Make sense?)
    - (And this is very important:) I need to force the character into a social space... Somewhere I can release all the ideas of his outsider-status... Basically, an antagonism... But I haven't figures out what or where yet... Don't freak out, but I'm toying with the idea of a cross between Holden Caulfield and The Unabomber...
    I'm only writing this because you guys have gone above and beyond the call of duty, and I cannot believe how helpful you have been! So, please, you guys are amazing, any help with this one?

    Namaste!
     

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