1. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Pushing through

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by 123456789, Jun 25, 2015.

    Here's a question to those who have neared or finished the last draft of a novel.

    Do you think it's OK to finish fatigued?

    Often, we talk about "taking a step back." Going for a long walk or taking a month off from a WIP. My question- does the reverse ever apply? Is it ever beneficial to push through, even when one is starting to feel generally tired(or sick) of the work? I'm not talking about the first draft, but more about the last to last few drafts, when completion is in sight.

    If this were a sport, or a homework assignment, or a work related project, the answer would be yes, push through. But what about writing fiction, which I feel is partly an art? Is it OK (or even necessary) to end your work, sick to death of it, or is that going to result in a poorly finished novel?

    The way I personally feel about it is that no work (or at least most) can be infinitely inspired, if for no other reason that the writer is always getting older and changing and new events are constantly occurring in ones life. Therefor, it is beneficial to try to finish within a realistic timeframe, even if that means pushing through fatigue and a resulting indifference. My fear is that the work may end up uninspired and or sloppy? Maybe this is an unrealistic fear, considering the bulk of the work was done while still feeling fresh, and beta readers/editors are going to help clean it up anyway? I've never finished a final draft of a novel before, so I would welcome all advice.

    Thanks in advance for comments.
     
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  2. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    As someone who has coached people and competed myself, I'm going to disagree with "pushing through" when it comes to sport. It's far better to under train than over train, and you need to strike a fine balance between overload and recovery, to allow supercompensation and a subsequent increase in fitness to occur.

    I think pushing through when you see warning signs (tired or sick of the work) could be dangerous. As soon as you start disliking your creation, it seems unlikely to me that you are going to do your best.

    Physical activity can have remarkably positive impacts on mental state, and taking breaks, going for walks, etc would be my first suggestion for flagging energy levels or give a shit about a WIP.
     
  3. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    So when you're in the middle of a competition, you don't push through??? I'm not talking about training. I'm talking about what you've been training for. The last hurdle.

    Edited to add: even when training for a sport, sometimes you need to push through, so that you are able to push through come competition. This is pretty much a fact.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Two things. One, it's very daunting to declare something as large an undertaking as a novel "finished", so you're in good company. Two, even when you're "finished", you're probably not, especially if you want to be traditionally published. I think the answer to your question is, yes, when you are near the end, there is every reason to push through. You need to see that final product, even if it isn't really final. Because when you go to pitch your novel, you'll be amazed at how many people will want to change it (even those who've never read it and only know what you're pitching). I suspect that if Mark Twain were here today pitching Huckleberry Finn, someone would say, "Ya know, Mr. Clemens, that's a helluva story idea ya have there, but, really, nobody wants to read about some kid in Missouri. Why not set it in...New Jersey! Yeah! He can raft down the Passaic River, maybe run into a couple of goombahs!"

    Good luck.
     
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  5. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    It really depends. It's important to take a long-term view. If you are unwell / over trained and push through - even if it's a competition, and come down with mono, you could put yourself out of action for years. Not worth it then, not by a long shot.

    You'll always get another crack at it, it's not like this is the last race you'll ever do.

    I've pushed through before, no question, and did not suffer ongoing consequences, but if you're doing it for a hobby, and the only pressure is one you are generating, then I think the joy of the journey has been lost or temporarily misplaced.

    It sounds to me like you've already made up your mind and you want someone(s) to help you justify pushing through even if the result is not the best you could do from a rested, energetic, enthusiastic state of being?
     
  6. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    No I'm on the fence, I just think we got too caught up in the analogy here. If the goal of finishing a novel is to published (it is) then I'm talking about competitive sport, which is more than just a hobby. If you gas out in practice, then you're going to gas out in competition, when you're under pressure. This isn't really debatable :/ obviously over training exists and rest is certainly a necessary element, including week before an event, which is why I brought up the question in the first place. Again, we're getting lost in the analogy. How did you finish your final draft? I'm assuming inspired. Also, did you finish in what what you considered to be a realistic timeframe?
     
  7. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    You seemed very confident of something you have no experience in (like the photography is easy claim) and I thought I'd shed some light from sporting experience. Gassing out during training does not predict gassing out in competition, as it depends on your state of recovery, so again, no, it is debateable, and definitely nothing to do with reality.

    I have never written a novel, which is why I am speaking only from the analogous aspect of sport. I think the analogy fits.

    I'll bow out. To be honest I did not consider your filter strongly enough and realise you're only interested in hearing from people who have finished a final draft.
     
  8. BookLover
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    BookLover Contributing Member

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    I have to wonder why someone would suddenly become sick of something right when completion is in sight?

    It reminds me of my dad. He's so handy, and he takes on so many different projects for so many different people. Yet he has this very weird, consistent habit of always leaving one piece of the project unfinished. He'll put a whole fence around your yard, hours of work, but then not properly install the gate. Instead he'll just wire it shut and say he'll finish it later. Years later the gate still doesn't open. He'll put a baseboard all the way around your wall but not finish a two foot section. Never to return to it. He'll redo your entire bathroom. Put in a new floor, new sink, but never replace the light fixtures next to the new sink so that you have these two ugly holes there with wires sticking out, forever.

    Did he really get sick of the project right at the end? Right when he was so close to being done? Or is he afraid of completion? I don't know why you'd be afraid of that, but I always thought it was strange how my dad never finishes the very last detail. Maybe in his mind, in his subconscious, the project is already finished. The bulk of it's done, so his mind sort of shuts the book on it. It's a weird phenomena for sure.

    I'm not sure what you should do. If there's still more to create, you don't want to rush your ending or anything. But if you're just tweaking things, I can see where you'd be sick of it and might need to push yourself through.
     
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  9. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    How do you know what I'm experienced in? What kind of coach are you and what are you coaching? You'll forgive me if I listen to my own coaches , who coach in world competitions, over you, I hope?
     
  10. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Great analogy with your dad. It is very true.
     
  11. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    @123456789 - just out of curiosity, how long have you been working on it?
     
  12. ToDandy
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    ToDandy Contributing Member

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    Everyone writes differently, but I, personally, have to push through to the end of the novel. I almost always have a set schedule when writing a novel (usually about 3 months). Because of my background in screenwriting I do an excessive amount of outlining so writers block is rarely a problem.

    I feel like if I were to stop, I'd have a hard time picking it back up again.

    On the downside, this usually this makes for a very rough first draft and a much more brutal editing phase. Perhaps moving slowly and taking breaks would help with a cleaner first draft. However, I'd rather get the book on paper, take a 3-6 month break on it, and come back to it with fresh eyes.

    And yes, I almost always feel very fatigued when I finish a draft.
     
  13. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Is there any opportunity to work with someone else on this final edit? Sometimes having someone else adding some enthusiasm or energy can help balance the other person's lack of same?
     
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  14. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    A month short of two years.
     
  15. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well by final edit I mean the final edit before giving to others to beta read, so ultimately you're right.
     
  16. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    That's pretty good going. You've probably been pushing hard. I did my first draft in about 20 months, but then spent almost as much time in revision, including having it read by beta-readers and an editor. Outside life issues can make it feel longer.
     
  17. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Congrats on the editor. So that's about 3 years , which is about what I'd like for my own WIP, including betas, etc.

    The outside issues are definitely part of the problem. Writing as a hobby doesn't make it an issue, but when you decide on aiming for publishing, writing becomes a goal and conflicts arise.

    It's true I'm leaning toward pushing through, as suggested by the title, but I can be swayed

    Thanks Ed for the input.
     
  18. Tim3232
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    Tim3232 Active Member

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    If you're yet to have beta readers then I'd advise push through. Take your break while beta readers are looking at it. And hopefully you will have renewed enthusiasm from your betas.
    Well done for getting this far anyway.
     
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  19. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Can you expand on the outside issues at all?
     
  20. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    My pleasure. And, yes, aiming to be published is a major game-changer, both in terms of commitment and expectations. Best of luck with it. If you need a beta-reader, PM me. If it's something up my alley, I'd be interested.
     
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  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I've read through this whole thread, and I'm a little bit confused. Have you finished your first draft, @123456789? What stage are you at, exactly? Have you still got part of the novel yet to be written?

    I'm probably not typical, but I wrote constantly and in an enthusiastic lather until my first draft was finished. I was so caught up in my story, I HAD to write. I put it out to betas, got a lot of very helpful feedback, made some major changes ...then started tinkering. You know, the kind of tinkering where you faff around changing words one day, then go back the next day and either change them again, or change them back? I began to realise I wasn't getting anywhere. So I left it. Actually, other things in life intruded, and I actually left it for nearly 6 years without going back to it at all. I thought about it a lot, but didn't actually write anything.

    When I did go back I not only found that my enthusiasm was back, but that I could look at the thing with new eyes, as if I hadn't actually written it myself. I saw so many flaws, but they were pretty easy to correct. This is where I was able to dump whole chapters that weren't working, etc. It was a huge jump forward. I don't know if this is the stage you're at, and I wouldn't recommend a 6 year gap, but distance does help!
     
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  22. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Michener put Mexico away and didn't pick it up again for 30 years. :D
     
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  23. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I was hoping to generalize the situation enough so as to make it applicable for others. Let me clarify, though, this is not about finishing the first draft. It's about finishing the final or final few drafts.

    Speaking for myself, it took me about three months to finish draft 1, which, like you, I wrote with an almost magical inspiration. I've taken the breaks between drafts. It's a great suggestion and it works, however, writing a novel is a journey and the journey I believe changes as you approach the end of it. I'm two years older than when I strted it, my life moves on(as do all of ours) and there are other novels id like to eventually work on. The novel, also, has aged. That means it doesn't need the massive amount of reworking it did after draft 1. Each draft there requires less and less work, but also, after each draft, even with breaks, I find I am just a little more drained. The question is how to approach the "finishing point."

    Ed's initial advice sort of throws a wrench in this whole view. Is there really a "finishing point" before the work gets published?

    You don't want to pass on your work to your betas, until it's as good as you can make it, but in the process of making it as good as possible, you start to drain out of energy. At least that's how it is for me. I know you've already passed on your work to betas. How did you feel toward the end, or is that end period still occurring now?
     
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  24. ToDandy
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    Ahhh! I didn't fully understand you. It's hard to say "push through" to your final draft because I've always found that drafts go in phases. You write, take a break, come back with fresh eyes, write some more, give to alphas, write some more, give to betas, and write even more! And as EdFromNY said, a book is often never done.

    The reason you may be feeling so drained is because you are "making each beta as good as you can," before getting any feedback.

    I don't agree with the notion that a beta has to be meticulously crafted before you hand it out to testers. Alpha readers can be hugely helpful in the beginning stage to help you get a grasp on major character, pacing, and plotting issues. They are a good tool for catching larger problems before you spend hours and hours fixing smaller problems which you'll just end up tearing up for the next overhaul.

    I personally like to get the work into someones hands as soon as possible for feedback, even if it isn't beautifully polished yet.
     
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  25. TDFuhringer
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    I'm three chapters from the end of the first revision of my first novel.

    Speaking only from my own experience, both in the first draft and in the revision, 'pushing through' was mandatory for me at times, or I never would have made it to the end. For me, momentum is everything.

    That being said, during the revision I definitely saw weak spots, especially at the points where I had to 'push' through. But I cleaned them up.

    I'd say definitely 'push through' for all drafts except the final polish. That one, I think, needs the most time, patience, and unfatigued skill.
     

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