1. fantasy girl
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    fantasy girl Contributing Member

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    I want to, but I can't.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by fantasy girl, Jan 9, 2010.

    My new years resolution this year, was to finish my first Novel.

    I started it just before Christmas and have written three chapters, but now I can't get in the right frame of mind to write. I haven't written anything since the beginning of the year and it is rather annoying me. I really want to write... I just can't, if that makes sense.

    Does anyone know any tips to get into the right frame of mind to write? I would truly appreciate your help.

    Fantasy Girl xx
     
  2. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    You just need to force yourself to write. It will be crap, but it's just a rough copy. When it gets more interesting, then you can go back over what you've done and improve it, and you'll probably be able to continue without the same problem.
     
  3. fantasy girl
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    fantasy girl Contributing Member

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    Thanks Gallowglass. I'm about to read through what I have already written then try write some more.
     
  4. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I totally know what you're going through. I started a job a just after Thanksgiving and haven't really written much since then. I didn't bother making any sort of new year resolutions, because placing that expectation on myself would do nothing but stress me out (much like the whole weight loss resolution does) if I don't achieve it. So, I just try to write when I have something to write about.

    I've also found starting a story is much like falling in love. It's great in the beginning, exciting, passion driven, but then after a while the heat fizzles out and what you are left with will either make or break the relationship, or story as the case may be. If the plot, characters, or settings are flawed, sometimes they are still workable, other times we just have to let them go and move on.

    But I think it's possible to get (I hate to use this word) addicted to starting stories, just like people can be addicted to falling in love, but never go through with relationships because they lack the passion, newness and excitement that the falling in love stage has. Writing is much the same. The drive we feel at the beginning does fall to the wayside at some point, and either it works and we continue, or it doesn't work and we shouldn't.

    There's no point in being disappointed when we leave a story behind due to its flaws. We have to break up with the story if we just don't feel it. Unlike relationships though, we can store that story away and revisit it later to see if there is anything workable we can take from it.

    A little trick I am finding that does seem to help, is critiqueing other's writing. Sometimes it will help us see what our story is lacking and help us to improve it without scrapping it. It's kind of like therapy for a story. Also having someone else critique our story can help us renew passion to make it better.

    Don't get down on yourself for not being productive, because much like emotional impotence, the more you worry about it the less productive you'll be. So relax. Let your guard down, and be honest about the story you've started with yourself. If you see potential work with it, if it's flawed beyond repair, kiss it good-bye and put it in the unfinished folder and start over.
     
  5. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    fantasy_girl, this is a hot button for most writers, although many may have extended episodes where they simply cannot write, they will swear they have never experienced writer's block. I think that's just a matter of semantics.

    A lot of the time, you may find you are trying so hard to make progress that the pressure, itself, can be a brick wall of sorts. Bluebell80 had an excellent suggestion in critiquing others' writing. When you do that, it shifts the focus of your brain from one type of writing activity to another and, by that virtue, allows the 'blocked' part of the brain to relax. (Critiquing is also an excellent personal learning tool. It helps us to discover shortfalls in our own work as we see them in someone else's and then relate that to our own writing.)

    The worst thing you can do is stress about it - which is also the hardest thing NOT to do! It can also be very difficult to downright impossible to just push through and 'write crap'. But, sometimes, if you can do it, that will at least help get you back in the writing mode. And, if you cannot write on your current WIP, don't sweat that project, work on something else. Start a new project - even if you have no intentions of finishing it. (And sometimes you might discover a diamond in the rough in that 'throw away' project.)

    One last thought is that you may not have a sufficiently solid concept of your story. You know your characters but do you really know their lives? ... their world? ... where they've been and where they are going? Writing a loose outline of where your story is going and where you see it ending up can be helpful in situations such as that. And, just to change the brain pace of your writing, get away from the computer and take pad and pen/pencil in hand and start writing - actually, physically. Sometimes, I find my brain works too fast for the computer and I need to slow it down so I keep a notebook handy for each of my various projects. After two or three pages of handwritten notes, I go back to the computer and begin adding my scribbles to the manuscript. By that time, I have pretty much busted a hole in the brick wall I had been facing and I can move forward.

    I can truly sympathize with your situation, though. (I survived a three year involuntary hiatus from writing which only a year or so ago I was able to jackhammer into submission.)

    Good luck. And remember, this, too, is survivable.
     
  6. ojduffelworth
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    ojduffelworth Contributing Member

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    I've also found starting a story is much like falling in love. It's great in the beginning, exciting, passion driven, but then after a while the heat fizzles out
    Well said! And while you can get addicted to falling in love with the beginings – that's ok. Just write lots of beginnings. When you have enough of them, you might recognized a common thread among them, and built them all into a greater work.

    Writing something else helps – a review, was suggested. Or try rewriting from memory a story/ book / movie / phrase you like – in your own words. Before long it is sure to shift to an original piece.

    Writing can be such a mental effort – draining. For that reason fororcing myself to write doesn’t work. The more I force, the more I bog down. It’s like trying to force yourself to fall asleep or something. Only harder.
    Maybe do chapter outlines if you can’t do entire chapters.

    A friend of mine who is a popular writer in Thai always say, "writing is just fighting with yourself. Fight! Fight!"

    Even the best writers have troubles with it.
    From Kafka’s diary:

    Jan20: the end of writing. When will it take me up again?
    Jan29: Again, tried to write, virtually useless.
    Feb7: complete standstill. Unending torments.
    March 11: I have achieved nothing. It dosen't come off. A page now and then is a success, but I cant keep it up, the next day I am powerless.
    March23: Incapable of writing a line.
    April27: Incapable of living with people, or speaking. I have nothing to say to anyone – never.
     
  7. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Not with that attitude. I second, write, write, write...do you get the picture? ;)
     
  8. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    Write twelve scenarios about what can happen next. Pick one and write it out. Or pick them all and write it out, and see what you like best. This helps me the most. :)
     
  9. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Find a good book, curl up in front of a fire and read. Every time I get immersed in a book, I find myself becoming excited to write. Maybe this will work for you, too.
     
  10. Delphinus
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    Delphinus Senior Member

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    Reread the book that made you say "I want to write." for the first time. For me, it was The Picture Of Dorian Gray. Only you know which book evoked that singular emotion in your 'soul'.
     
  11. thecommabandit
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    thecommabandit Member

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    What I've discovered recently is that I keep in writing if I:
    a) don't look back at what I've written apart from the last few sentences to know where I left off, and
    b) don't force myself to write in order. If there's a bit where I know what will happen way ahead in the story, I jump there and write it.
     
  12. TPie
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    TPie New Member

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    Losing interesting or motivation in your work, I've found, is a warning of a problem in your writing. Ask yourself what your ultimate goal is with your work, and then find out how you've lost your way.

    Tips to identify the problem...

    1. What is the purpose of your work? The underlying message? The ultimate story you want to tell? In Lord of the Rings, the story was about the destruction of the ring. The deeper message was to show how evil can corrupt the good. In Ender's Game, the story was about mankind's war against the buggers. The deeper message was a boy's conflict between the love he wants and duty.

    2. To what are you devoting the most time to in your writing? Is this consistent with your story and purpose? Your writing should lead to the death of the buggers while clearly conveying the deeper message.

    3. Is your story about the characters or the plot? Both are important, but the plot should be used to develop your characters, never the other way around. As many of the writers on this forum will tell you, any idea you have has been done before (in some way or another). What matters is how you tell the story.
     
  13. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah, oj! Thanks so much for that inclusion. There is something so calming and comforting in seeing the likes of Kafka wrestling with the same demons I have had to stare down.
     

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