1. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    I'm getting discouraged

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Kratos, Jan 17, 2009.

    I've written about 35k on my first novel attempt, but now I feel like I'm stuck. The plot's getting confused and my writing quality has seemed to gone downhill since I started. I stare in front of a blank screen and haven't written in weeks. I just feel like I can't write well at all and my story's a mess. But I've been working on this a lot and don't want to throw it all in the trash and give up on this story. What should I do? Start writing something else? Give up? Keep going with this story?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
     
  2. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    Why do you think the story is confused? Find the exact root of your problem and once you've found it, enter edit overdrive mode and get working on a solution Don't give up. Most of the time I hit a dead end in story line too, but I always use this method and find a solution to the root problem that pleases me and I can continue.

    As for the quality of the writing that's easily fixed with rewrites and edits when your done or whenever you want. Sometimes it helps to put the story on the back burner for a little while while you relax or work on something else. Sometimes solutions just pop into my head while writing another piece or while I'm watching TV.
     
  3. othman
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    othman Member

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    Well it may help you to read other people's work and think about their writing critically and so that may help you with your writing but as lordofhats said everyone needs to do rewrites anyway.

    Also, this may or may not help; sometimes if you force yourself to start to write again even perhaps if it's only another thousand words, it may help you to get going again ... And with your storyline, haven't you planned it out with a fair bit of detail? So just follow the rough lines that you have already drawn yourself and when you're ready go back and add the detail as sometimes just getting the rough draft down will help you a lot.

    Oh and don't be too critical seeing as it's the first draft, add the detail and major editing until when you feel there is nothing more important to do.
     
  4. zorell
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    zorell Contributing Member

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    I can only ralk froom personal experience. But, what helps me is to put it somewhere safe and walk away, don't even think about it. Giving your mind this break might allow it to make some necessarry connections.
     
  5. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    zorell may be onto something. I am currently taking a break and just talking about my writing(via interviews here today) and it is helping me get back in the mood to write. (And although I ain't sure how far in I am, I still think it's below 30K)
     
  6. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    Well, the thing is, I have been taking a break. I haven't written in quite some time. And it doesn't seem to be doing much for me.
     
  7. wave1345
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    wave1345 Member

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    I find myself feeling the same way very often.

    Stop agonizing about the novel. The more you think on it, the more frustrated you get.
    You start to feel bad about your writing, you doubt yourself, and you end up hiding from it.

    If I were you, I'd set myself up in a place with no distractions so you can focus. Don't
    worry about what you write and just write what makes you happy. If you're not feeling
    it, go listen to your favorite music, or reread your favorite book, or watch your favorite
    movie. Keep an eye and ear open for things that might inspire you, but don't focus too
    hard on it. Any time something piques you interest and sets your imagination going,
    that's inspiration you can write about, even if it only ends up being 500 words.


    Dry spells suck, don't they? Power through!
     
  8. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Writing is work. No lie. But, it doesn't start out that way. It begins with someone who discovers the "fun" of putting a cohesive story on paper. Reinforcement for the "fun" comes when you experience that non-chemical induced "high" from reading your first chapter, or better yet, when some confidant reads it and says, "That's really good".

    Over time, however, the pleasure becomes a job. The process of writing that once gave psychic renewal, now bleeds your limited pool of creativity. When this happens, some people fall into writer's block...others drift into uninspired writing, forced by some self imposed mantra; "Thou shall write twelve words every day." No matter the symptoms, the result, and the cause, are still the same. Your "fun" has now evolved into the "work" of writing. The real question is, "Do you have the 'stones' to get beyond this impasse?"

    Macho question, huh? Kinda like the bull**** you might expect from a football coach. Did you ever wonder why such silly admonishments are successful? A football team can be getting their collective butts kicked in the first half, and they suddenly explode into winners after a brief half-time talk by the coach. What changed? They are the same players, with the same skills, yet they found a new level of play based solely on a bunch of words. Why?

    Simple...goals! The coach knows that his players have worked hard for this moment but they have lost their desire. He (or she) understands that discouragement comes from losing sight of the goal. Yes, they still "know" that the goal is to win the game...but do they still believe it? Do they still crave it? The coach's job is to bring back the single minded focus on the goal. Locker room chats are famous for doing just that, they INSPIRE those whose inspiration has slipped.

    Who inspires the writer? Who inspires YOU?

    Ironically, the hardest manuscript to complete is the first one. It gets easier after that first one because you have already experienced the inner peace that comes with closing the last page of the last chapter of your "book". That feeling drives you on every manuscript thereafter. But, back to the first one...the one that sets you free. Writing that first book can be a lonely "game". There are no teammates, no coach, no editor or agent pressing you with a deadline. Motivation is solely your responsibility. Where do you get it? How long does it last before you need a booster shot of inspiration? Are there any tricks to re-kindling the burning need to complete your story?

    I have answers for those questions...but they only work for me. You will have to find your own. Motivation is personal. You need to ask yourself why you started the story in the first place. Does that desire still exist? If not, then stop writing. You can't feign motivation; it's there, or not. But, you CAN re-discover the "raison d'etre"...the "reason to be" that drove your initial efforts...yes, back before the writing became "work"...LOL. And when you explore your original enthusiasm about your story, then the creativity and drive will return. Until then, go fishing. No silly, I don't mean go catch a fish, "go fishing" is NOT a glib comment. Writers are always "writing"; either putting words to page or thinking about the story line. "Go fishing" is a just metaphor for giving your subconscious the time it needs to mull around your story. I call this subliminal writing. There is only one prerequisite...desire. That's why it is so important for you to re-explore the reasons why you started your story. If those reasons still exist, then you need only allow the original motivation to bubble back to the surface. So, take a piece of paper and make two columns. Title the first "Reasons I want to write my story". Title the second "Reasons why I am NOT completing my story". List your reasons and compare the list. Your final decision about your manuscript will become clear.

    For example, if the reasons for starting the story still exist, then you will become re-inspired. However, if most of the reasons in the "Not" column relate to writing skill, then your problem is not motivation...it is lack of writing tools. The solution, then, is simple; study "writing". Once you have more tools, then it will be easier for your to express your story in ways you enjoy writing. The "fun" will return...accomanied by new motivation.

    One last thought. It is entirely okay to give up on a story. Not all story lines turn out to be "big" enough for a full length novel. This is especially true when you are trying your hand at writing a novel for the first time. If you are honest with yourself, and you discover that the current story just is not the stuff of a full length book, then stop. Start a new story. In the meantime, build your writing tools. Do as many "reviews" as possible in the Review Section of this site. You will be amazed at how much you learn from analyzing others' writing or by reading the comments by fellow reviewers. If I was only allowed one tool for developing my own writing, it would access to that review room. Fortunately, you have many choices for "tool development"...online writing sites like Purdue's OWL website. Mammamaia offers to tutor people...she is very knowledgeable. Spend a few dollars to sign up for the Chicago Manual of Style...this will answer any question you have about SPAG and much more. And, of course, READ, READ, READ! I read two novels in the last week alone! I recently read The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway...it was loaded with run-on sentences and non-traditional writing phrases, but his application of those "faux pas" worked. Hmmm....do I have the courage to attempt such intentional deviations? Therein lies the value of reading. It expands your "tools" beyond the lock-step rigid rules of SPAG and story construction.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. Tulip
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    Tulip New Member

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    This really does help.

    After a year of agonising over how I was writing and getting nowhere, I decided to read a published novel - and one that I had thought was well-written whilst reading it - as if it were my own writing. Believe me, I read it differently. I began to see faults that weren't there. I was even seeing faults in everything.

    It's all about your frame of mind, I think. When you read a novel, you're more relaxed. You're engrossed in the story! When you write it, you're more critical because you know the story inside-out and want to tell it in the best way. The fact is, words cannot communicate anything to precision. A lot of the people who try to communicate every detail actually end up getting bad reviews because they over-write. Just relax, and try to write things down. Don't worry if they're a bit clumsy or vague as you can edit them later. Think of a 1st draft as the foundations. Once you've written the first draft, you can begin to build the masterpiece!

    I know how you feel. I felt stuck! But now, I've started to write again! :)
     
  10. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you ever share your work with others? A fresh set of eyes might be helpful. If you're often too shy as I am to share with others, step back for a week or two, or even a month. Dont think about your story and try to forget it, even. Then, come back after a period of time and read it as if you are the reader. As the reader, find the spots that seem foggy. Keep them in mind, perhaps even take notes.

    Then go back with a critical eye, as your own editor this time, and highlight, scratch out, revise, erase to your heart's content.

    Dont give up hope! I'm sure your a fabulous writer. There's a writer in everyone --everyone! But it's the determination and willpower to REVISEREVISEREVISE that make the best of us shine. Your goal is to make your tenth draft read like an effortless first.

    I've been known to tear up entire manuscripts (or delete, depending of if they were scrawled or typed up) because I was so frustrated, and you know what? I found that my second attempt was eons better than my original. --Of course, I recommend that if you go this route, you save the basic plot and certain passages that you think are pure gold. :love:

    Some tips: If your plot is getting murky, ask yourself if you have subplots. Eliminate them. If you think that your novel is not complete without your subplot, then add it in later, after you've got your basic draft written. Add it in after each chapter or even wait until you've finished the basic novel!
    Subplots are the bane of many writers' existances. :p

    Also, try mapping out your plot. Remember those story webs, or, at my old primary school we used the Umbrella Method? Where you had your introduction, body, conclusion, details, etc? I'm totally serious: Those things work. :p Map out your ten most important and crucial scenes. You want your Opener, Point of No Return, Climax, and Ending --write those first. Write a few sentences for each. Then, write out those scenes. Then fill in everything else. It's a method I've used several times, and it really does work!

    If you break it down scene by scene it becomes much less overwhelming and your writing will improve. Promise!
     
  11. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    Your problem writing may just stem from something in the story. Read over some of it and try to find what it is that's causing the problem and try your best to fix it. It may just be your inner critic telling you that it's no good. I had this problem when I was writing the 1st draft of my novel. My best advice is to just don't think about the quality and just plow right on through it.
     
  12. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Try sharing your story with creative friends. I don't mean that your friends have to read it, but tell them the plot so far, in a nut shell. Bounce ideas off each other, and I bet you end up figuring out where to go next.
     
  13. mmorsepfd
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    mmorsepfd Member

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    March on, soldier, nobody said it would be easy!
     
  14. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    When I got confused with my current serial I had to step back and think it over a good long while--untangle all the bits that were getting mixed up, straighten them out, and mull over where I wanted them to go next. Granted, this is what always happens with my stories since I write long serials and they tend to get confusing toward the end. I don't know how well this would apply to your situation, but maybe you need to actively mull the story over--figure out why it's confusing--instead of just letting it sit?
     
  15. jack9
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    jack9 New Member

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    I would go back and change whats wrong with the story.
     
  16. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Don't be afraid to start fresh and rewrite every word. Tolstoy rewrote Anna Karenina 17 times by hand just to make it as perfect as possible.
     
  17. BillyxRansom
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    This. you might have to go in from the bulk of it. Full scale reconstructive surgery.
     
  18. Zcreative
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    Zcreative Contributing Member

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    I've been at points like this too, not at 35k words, considering I've never written that much ever, but getting stuck and not wanting to continue can be really hard. I just say try to read over your stuff, fix what you think is confusing and try to proceed. If that doesn't work, stop it for a while and then go back later and see if a new idea is sparked.

    I hope I helped :p

    Z ;)
     
  19. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    I think I figured out a major problem. My book is told from 4 different viewpoints, all ongoing different stories. This I guess is why it's getting confusing. But I like having different viewpoints. I may consolidate them to just 3.
     
  20. Holliemouse
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    Holliemouse Member

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    Glass of wine + brainstorming session dont think just write words.

    This always helps me as its a bit naughty but its still work! the words seem to come from nowhere then ideas come up, then another glass of wine, then im flying!

    Though i do not condone the use of alcohol whilst operating machinery (computer) it really does work for me..its like chillin whist doing something i love (drinking...just kidding writing)

    x
     
  21. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    I love stories written like this, but I do understand that they are extremely difficult to write. Yes, I think bringing it down to three might make it easier, and also maybe sit down and sketch / map out the story from each person's perspective? It's easier to write when you know exactly where your destination is, in my opinion.
     
  22. Alex_Hartman
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    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

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    Promise yourself one more sentence.

    Maybe it will turn out into one more paragraph, then possibly one more page. And so on.
     
  23. mmorsepfd
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    mmorsepfd Member

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    great advice.
     
  24. Aristocrazy
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    Aristocrazy Member

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    I also know a good writer who the second he gets stuck on one story starts to work on another one. he has multiple projects going but he swears it works great when he comes to dead ends on certain stories

    try it out perhaps
     
  25. Callire
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    Callire New Member

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    Have a pretend interview with Oprah.

    O: "Now how did you write this book? It's so complex!"
    Me: "Oh, it was really frustrating at times. I found that converging the two main plot lines complicated the integrity of my two main POVs and it was very hard to sort them out in my head."
    O: "Why yes, that was such a suspenseful scene!"
    Me: "Yes, well Polly had a choice to make, and Drew was being such a complete whiner that I completely cut him from the last chapter."
    O: "I never saw that truck coming!"
    Me: "Yeah, I was getting tired of him. Enter 16 wheeler with a drunk driver-"
    O: "What a great statement about the importance of highway safety!"
    Me: "Can you stop talking for like five seconds? Anyway, he was annoying me so I had the driver come in to symbolize Polly's final revenge."
    O: "Can I talk now?"
    Me: "Sure."
    O: "I just want to say that I was completely blown away by this book, and I'm so glad you agreed to have it on our book club list... Really, that giant truck was completely amazing... I never thought there would be cars in space... especially after you introduced the flaming dragons of hell."
    Me: "Well, yes, that's why I'm the literary genius and you have a talk show."
     

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