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  1. Noodleguy

    Noodleguy Senior Member

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    Motivation Level: Critically Low

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Noodleguy, Jan 25, 2009.

    I have this problem that happens whenever I try a large-scale project. Short stories I can do fine, sure, no problem. But anything longer than, say, three sittings I have difficulties with. Why? I run out of steam or get disillusioned with the project early on. More the latter than the former, actually.

    The first time I attempted to write a novel, I got to 30,000 words. That was during NaNoWrimo. In that case I stopped because I lost my flash drive and a third of the work. That was understandable, honestly. I really didn't want to re-do all that. So I learned my lesson and backed up my work.

    The second time I attempted a novel, I got three chapters in (about 7,000 words or so.) Thenit just died. It died, oddly enough, basically at the same time as I showed it to someone else. They made a great suggestion, but I didn't want to impliment the suggestion. I felt like if I did what they said, it would no longer be my own. Yet, I couldn't help but continously think about exactly how much better it would be with their suggestion. I could no longer force myself to work on it.

    Now, I know in my brain that I could have implimented their suggestion and been fine. Or I could have not implimented it and been fine. Probably wouldn't have mattered. But while I theoretically knew this, from that point on I couldn't do anything. Immobilized! Immobilized!

    The third time I attempted a novel, I only got one and a half chapters in (2,500 words or so.) Then, once again, I made the fatal flaw of sharing my idea. Unfortunately, I worked very closely with a friend of mine on this project. Then the friendship...ended abruptly. Major euphemism. But now I can't make myself go back to that story, as much as I love it! I think it's the best thing I've ever written. Best idea anyway. But I can't do it.

    And now, the same thing has happened to me once more. Go figure. Now it turns out that what I thought was an original idea has been done 10,000 times. Oh, I know, there's no original ideas under the sun. This shouldn't bug me. It's the writing that counts, not the ideas...etc etc etc. But for some reason I've still lost my enthusiam for the whole project. And without enthusaism: no writing gets done.

    It's not that I don't want to write. I do! But I just keep jumping from project to project to project to project endlessly, never completing anything. I spend ridiculous amounts of time composing outlines and worldbuilding for what I plan to be epic proportion projects. And then I lose my groove.

    Alright, this ended up being basically a huge rant. Plues, every time this cycle repeats I get all depressed and I mourn my idea and project like my best frined just died. Until the next day I get a NEW idea and manage to write all of four pages of that before it dies... Sorry about the rantingness. But does anyone else have this same problem?

    Just to clarify, it isn't the problem where I get new ideas and jump from one to the next. I don't have an excess of ideas, honestly I think I have too few. It takes me a while to think of something decent.

    I think I've decided that it stems from sharing my work before it is completed. It's not that I'm not taking criticism, most of the time it's not criticism it's praise. But whenever I tell someone about the project I'm working on within 24 hours I invariably have given up on that project. It's a curse!Then I get all disillusioned and in a bad mindset and can't continue. I thought I'd never say this but...I know how Stephanie Meyer felt after the Midnight Sun catastrophe.

    Phew. I said it. But it's true.
     
  2. lordofhats

    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    I used to do this two. The only solution I found was that I kept going from one idea to the next until I finally found one that could keep my interest (The Book of the Moon), and I again went through another half dozen until I came up with 003 which I'm still in love with.

    You aren't working on a deadline or anything. Go through ideas like Myth Busters goes through myths until you find one you really can stick with.
     
  3. Noodleguy

    Noodleguy Senior Member

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    Thanks, Hats. I guess those other ideas must not have been SO good anyway, if they couldn't withstand existing for a few minutes. Well, my writing is improving despite this, and so it's good to know eventually the passing through will end. As long as it's a phase and doesn't last forever o_o;
     
  4. NaCl

    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Long before I graduated from high school, I "picked eggs" for a local chicken rancher. I showed up for work about 5:00 AM and carried a basket through the hen house in which I placed the eggs. He paid me two cents an egg and I usually collected a few hundred each morning. The problem was he only paid me for eggs that were not broken.

    One day, I complained that I was getting too many broken eggs. He asked me what I thought the problem was and I responded that the basket was too big and the eggs on the top were crushing the eggs on the bottom. I also mentioned that I was going fast due to pressure from needing to get to school on time.

    Old man MacKeckeron, listened attentively until I finished. Then, he asked me if there was any other problem, and after brief thought, I replied in the negative.

    "Boy," the old mad said, "You seem to have a very good idea what the problems are. You should have no trouble at all figuring out how to fix them. Good luck."

    He was right. I got to work a half hour earlier so I could slow down and be more careful. I also did not fill the basket all the way, making a few extra trips to the collection room to deliver half filled baskets. My breakage rate dropped to almost nothing and my pay went up more than a third.

    You related your problems in great detail, along with all the reasons why they exist. Seems to me Mr. MacKeckeron's advice applies...if you know what the problem is, then just "fix" it. He sure was a smart old chicken rancher.
     
  5. Noodleguy

    Noodleguy Senior Member

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    If I had folksy stories HALF that good, I would be vice-president of the United States. Seriously.

    But yeah, that's probably good advice. I'm just going to keep going and see if some of the eggs can manage to survive. Thank you. :-D
     
  6. TheIllustratedMan

    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

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    Crap. I REALLY didn't mean to kill your motivation. It just reminded me of something similar that I had seen.
    Though that happened to me too. I have this amazing idea for this novel where God brings his chosen people to heaven (the rapture) and those whom he didn't choose have to come to terms with it, either through repenting or saying "screw it" or something in between. I thought that I could get a really neat perspective on Christianity.

    ...

    Then I came across a series of books started sometime around when I was born, called "Left Behind". I felt like a douche. That project was abandoned in much the same way.

    ...

    Here's the difference. I was competing with a huge series with an established following and a few films. You're competing with a humorous skit on a cult-hit TV show that lasts for about 30 seconds. Bottom line: you've got a similar idea (Sesame Street grown-up) but your implementation is different. Let's be honest here - Burt and Ernie lend themselves to adaptation as a gay couple. For you and Seth Macfarlane to have that same idea isn't odd. Even taking it as a crime drama isn't odd (What's the opposite of happy-go-lucky? Gritty, raw violence.).

    So don't get discouraged man, just outdo those 30 seconds and be better than that. Is it going to be a major inspirational success? No. Is it going to be a good showcase of your talent and what you are capable of achieving? That's up to you.
     
  7. Dcoin

    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    I told my professor the same thing. I called it being a "writer sprinter". Advice given back: look at your work as 10 sprints not 1 marathon.

    BTW salties story beats anything the almost VP could come up with!
     
  8. Cheeno

    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    Instead of running out there and showing people your first couple of chapters in the hope they'll come back with exactly what YOU want to hear, make a promise to yourself to keep it extremely tight and NOT show ANYONE anything until you've FINISHED your first COMPLETE draft. As for the eggs in the basket thing, I have a rule that works exceptionately well for me...I only ever put ONE egg in my basket at any given time. That's why I'm able to focus exclusively on the project I've started. Of course, what works for me may not suit others, but there you go. Good luck with your endeavours.
     
  9. Noodleguy

    Noodleguy Senior Member

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    Ah, no, wasn't just you. After I saw that I started browsing around, and actually the same concept has been used in numerous places. Including novella length pieces of fiction. And then I talked to one of my friends about it, and they directed me to a website devoted entirely to exactly that concept o_O So it's actually a bit of an overdone idea perhaps. Oh well. I know it shouldn't bug me, and whatever, but still. Honestly it wasn't that good of an idea >_> Now I'm just sick of it. So I'll just start a new, better project!

    Well, it isn't them not agreeing with it so much as...meh. And I only do work on one thing at a time, yeah. But that definitely is my plan: not to show people chapters
     
  10. RomanticRose

    RomanticRose Active Member

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    Are you working with ideas that you truly love or are you just infatuated? Making a novel out of an idea you are infatuated with works about as well as making a marriage with a person you are infatuated with. The flame blasts high at first, but burns out quickly.

    Are you letting these ideas have an incubation time? Not every story needs to be put on the page immediately. Some need time to ferment.

    Stop working on an epic proportion project, which is intimidating as hell, and just write one scene at a time. It is incredibly easy to find a reason to stop working on a project. Novels are difficult. Motivation is hard to maintain if you think in terms of "Dear god, I have 70 or 80 thousand words to go." Focus on this scene and make it sing, then move on.

    Just my tuppence.
    RR
     
  11. Noodleguy

    Noodleguy Senior Member

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    Yeah, I kind of think that was my problem too. I had these ideas, and they had a "honeymoon" stage, and then it just crashed. Like a sugar rush, I guess. But I do get really excited over an idea, and I don't want to STOP myself from writing. Hmmm.

    I'm pretty much switching, for now, from writing a novel to writing a lot of short stories. Baby steps first, methinks. Then when I can find and develop an idea I REALLY love I can run with that.
     
  12. Rumpole40k

    Rumpole40k Banned

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    How about considering this entire situation form another perspective?

    As humans, every action we do has the potential to become a habit. If you lose motivation and don't finish a story, it may become a habit. How about training yourself to finish the story despite a lack of motivation or a serious case of writer's block in which you have no idea what happens next? I've been doing this for two years now and it does work. Next time you lose your motivation or honestly can't bear to look at the story for even one more minute, why not write a quick ending. Don't worry about the fcat you might have created plot holes the size of Arkansas, just finish it and let it go. This will train your brain to finish the project. it also offers an additional benefit, as you have completedthe project, your subconscious is free to pick away at all the problems created by the quick fix ending. You may find, in time, that you are able to return to the project with new ideas that resolve the plot holes. Just an idea based on my experience.

    Good luck,

    ~R
     
  13. lostpyrate

    lostpyrate Member

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    Holy Cow! That is brilliant! I've had the same problem with the several businesses I've run! Great advice! I'm on it.

    As for noodledudes motivational issues, I'm in the same boat. The minute I share the idea, it begins to die. I found I had to keep my project a secret for it to become anything worth looking at. It's almost like I had to treat the project as a surprise for everyone I know. I stayed up late after everyone went to bed and worked for hours into the night, losing sleep but gaining ground. Currently, I'm at about 20,000 words, so I'm feeling comfortable with sharing little snippets with family and friends, and here on the forum. Putting one chapter out there at this point isn't de-motivating, surprisingly. But it's enough to get some good feedback and get me thinking in the right direction.

    I do like the idea of forcing a quick ending when I get that awkward feeling of giving up on a project. It makes sense to me.
     
  14. architectus

    architectus Banned

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    You're going to stop sharing your work before it is finished right?
     
  15. laciemn

    laciemn Senior Member

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    It sounds to me like this criticism or the roadblocks suddenly become more realized to you once you tell someone else about it, whether because of your own self consciousness or because of your perceived criticism of the work. Just try thinking about it in a new way. Maybe you feel disgusted with your work momentarily and can't bring yourself to continue it. That's what happened to me the very first time someone was very harsh with my work. I lost my nerve. You can continue the novel just to prove something to yourself and possibly get back into the work(or you'll realize for sure you can't continue it) or you can just give up and find a different idea.
     
  16. laciemn

    laciemn Senior Member

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    I also agree that this is a great idea. It would be a good habit for any writer.
     

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