1. J. McGrath
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    J. McGrath Member

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    What do I DO?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by J. McGrath, Feb 18, 2014.

    I feel like there's this thing I go through with writing (and everything else, really).

    First, I'll get inspired. I'll write like crazy and a few days later, I'll stop. I don't know if it's because I'm no longer interested or if I got hit with writer's block. I don't know if it's because all previous motivation is lost. All I do know is, I can't continue. I often give up and a few months later, repeat the process.

    I think I lack the discipline needed to sit down every day and just write. I don't know how to make myself do it. Instead, I clean, do homework, play with the cats, or just stare blankly at Internet web pages like Facebook and DeviantART.

    I do nothing.

    I want to write for a living. I really do. I love the idea of sharing the millions of stories I've come up with over the years. But I feel like I want to write for the wrong reasons. I've been told time and time again that there's no money in it. I feel like my goal with writing is more of a fame/fortune goal. Everyone with experience has said, "Don't write for the money." But I feel like that's the main reason for it. I feel like that's the one thing I want to do--it's the one job I want--and getting paid for it feels like the biggest reason behind it. I don't want it to be that way, but it is. It's gotten to the point where I want to give up on writing completely because I feel like I'm not doing it for the right reasons. I've known I wanted to write full time for almost four years. But if writing isn't in my future, what is? I can't imagine doing anything else.

    So, what do I do? I mean, I don't even like reading all that much! I feel like such an oddball when it comes to writing even though I've been writing for what feels like forever. I don't know how to motivate myself and I often feel like I'm not meant to do it because I like the idea of getting paid for it (and from what I hear, that's bad).
     
  2. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    To be honest, I think you're right. You're not doing it for the right reasons. You seem more in love with the idea of making money out of writing, the idea of being able to call yourself a writer than to actually BE a writer and just do the job. Writing takes passion and persistance, a novel is not something you write in a couple of weeks, and then see the money start rolling in. It takes months, years before you 1. learn the craft and 2. have something you can submit and even then the outcome is unsure. To do that, to persist even though there are no guarantees, you need to be really committed and love what you're doing. Fortunately, You've already realized that. There are tons of better ways to make a living. If this isn't something you just Have To Do, then don't. No one else can make you do it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2014
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  3. Gholin
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    Gholin Member

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    I completely agree, with your sentiment J McGrath, and I think you know exactly what the problem is. Tesoro hit the nail on the head.

    However, my own experiences with this same issue have helped me realize what I need to do and I hope I can inspire you to continue with your dreams.

    You see, I also really want to write, because it's driving me nuts not to get my stories down and I want to see that fame/fortune to make writing a way of living. Like you my motivation fails me when I realize that what I want to write is going to suck initially and my stories don't seem as good as they are in my head.

    Also, the investment of time feels like a waste because I don't want to suck and take so much time trying to improve something. The thought of revising 80,000 words three to six times feels like a crushing workload. My time is already limited, and full of other things I could be doing, so every thought of doing that paralyzes me.

    Also, I love my ideas and I don't want them to fail. But I realize now, that even without fame and fortune, if I don't get my stuff written, I'm going to regret my life. It's killing me to just live stories in my own head and not share. I mean what if I wrote a bestseller? It's what I want, and if I don't try, I have no chance of achieving it. If I fail, at least I finished something.

    J. McGrath, you must dare to dream. You want the fame, the writer's life, but you have to finish a book to start that path. Even finishing one novel is a life-altering accomplishment. So few do this!

    We both need to stop these conflicted feelings and just write. Write the book, don't worry if it sucks. Rewrite it, ask for help from readers up here and elsewhere. Find a way to make it work, just once. See if it's something you enjoy. If not, stop, tell stories to yourself and be satisified knowing you made your attempt.

    It's hard to make it as a novelist. I don't even know if I can do all the self-marketing or even make something others enjoy. I hope so, but I guess we both need to try, or it'll haunt us for life. So if you're blocked, just write something. Even if it's not related to your book. Write a crappy scene or two to bridge the gap. Try it out. Good luck and Godspeed.
     
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  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think if you write just to make money, you'll be very unhappy even if you're successful. Spending all your working life doing something you don't enjoy is pretty close to hell, in my view, especially if you have to be entirely self-motivated in order to pay the rent and eat.

    Have you ever written anything - even a poem or a short story - that you've finished? I mean really finished - revised, edited, polished to a high sheen, ready to submit to an eager publisher? If not, then before you make a decision on whether or not you're a writer, you should do so. Write a story, finish it, and submit it. Begin your collection of rejection slips. If you still want to be a writer after you've done the best you can and it's been rejected, then you may have what it takes. But if being bitten in the rear end by reality stops you, then you should probably drop this dream.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is me through and through. Well said, Gholin! :)
     
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  6. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's an important difference between wanting to get recognition for what you write, and just doing it for the money. The first might get you money as well, but the goal is to be the best you can be, which often leads to success. Second is a fools errand, because it's very difficult to make tons of money from writing anyway. Maybe you have a writer in you, but need to go and do something else for ten years or so, earn a profession, work for a while, travel etc and maybe after all that, your desire to write will be supported by the urge to tell a meaningful story. Meaningful stories are rare, and they take a long time to develop into novels. A writer will be happy if they have ten or twenty meaningful stories in their lifetimes, 'millions' are merely ideas or even just snippets.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This needed to be said. Ernest Hemingway only published seven novels in his lifetime, along with a few collections of short stories and a couple of non-fiction books. It's a pretty small oeuvre, compared to those of writers like Nora Roberts and Dean Koontz. James Joyce only wrote six books, Jane Austen wrote six novels (only four appeared in her lifetime), and many others considered great didn't produce all that much. They just made sure that what they did produce was great, lasting literature.

    Writers who are very prolific also tend to be repetitive (the ones I've read, at least - I have no statistical data to back this up).
     
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  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is there any chance that it's not about the money, but about the isolation? I have trouble writing when no one's going to read my stuff, and quite possibly no one will ever read my stuff. (OK, a few eventual beta readers aren't "no one", but it's still not the context in which I imagine my writing being read.) For me, writing is in large part communication, and if I'm not communicating, it feels wrong. To me.

    So I post some of my writing to my blog, and that helps with the isolation--somebody's reading something, sometimes. It's not enough motivation, and I'm not doing enough writing, but it helps some.

    Edited to add: And I also remind myself that value and money don't always go together. The odds of my ever making a living from writing are essentially zero. But that wouldn't make it any less of a triumph, to me, if I were to be (traditionally) published. Even if what I earned barely added up to pocket money when spread across months or years of writing, I'd still be pretty happy.
     
  9. J. McGrath
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    J. McGrath Member

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    @Gholin thanks for that. Writing is time consuming, but I do enjoy doing it. I mean, there are times when I just hate it, but the majority of the time, I love it. I feel a sense of pride when I finish just a scene--especially if it's well-written. It's just so hard for me to get motivated and really pumped to write something. It's kind of discouraging because my motivation level is so low.

    @minstrel I do enjoy writing. I really do. If I was to make a living with writing, I wouldn't be miserable doing so. I'd enjoy it. Part of the reason I think I almost feel obligated to make money with this is because those around me keep saying things like, "when you're famous..." and "when you're rich..." I feel almost pressured. I mean, I know the people who say that are being nice and/or have faith that I can get to that point, but it puts pressure on me. At least it feels that way. I think.

    I appreciate the advice as well. I haven't really "finished" much as far as writing goes.

    @ChickenFreak That could be my problem. I feel like I'm more motivated when I'm around/in communication with other writers. I feel like I'd be more confident in my writing if I was critiqued more often as well. I'm already feeling a little better about it since finding this forum. And of course getting advice from you fine people is even better. :)
     
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  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah; people are used to the concept of the starving artist, but I think there's a perception that in writing (and some other artistic professions like acting) you either do nothing or you make it big and get rich. And it's just not true. You can be a very fine writer, be proud of yourself as a writer, be well-regarded as a writer--and still have (and need) a day job.
     
  11. J. McGrath
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    J. McGrath Member

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    Yeah, I think I just need to try to keep in mind that I can still be a good writer--maybe even a great writer--without getting rich.
     
  12. Foxe
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    Foxe Active Member

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    You know what may help you with finishing your work, and working through your lack of enthusiasm? Organizing your story from start to finish. I am giving this a shot now -- which I didn't do before -- and let me tell you, I feel much better about enthusiasm issues. I don't get discouraged because the story is there, all that's left is the telling.
    Try it out!
     
  13. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Totally agree! Just recently, I started reading some romance novels, to improve my own ability to write such content, and after ten books of someone else (first four were good, but I had to finish the series) I picked up Nora Roberts. The description of her storylines sounded really interesting, but 15 pages later, I couldn't bear to read any more about surreptitious glances and cold on the surface handsome multimillionaires, it's all one and the same story told largely in purple prose. My brain was actually screaming for Murakami, as it's been firing on empty book-calories for some months now. But I think it takes special talent to be able to recycle the same story fifty times, 500 pages each time. A talent I don't possess, but the likes of Nora Roberts or Stephen King apparently excel at.
     
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  14. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've noticed that no matter what you do, be it writing, sports, drawing, playing video games... everything becomes tedious / tough at some point. The trick, at least for me, is to just bite the bullet and persevere through that slump. Every single time I've done that, I've been glad I did; the inspiration and enthusiasm do return. Endurance is the word.

    Another thing to consider: if your writing bores you, there's a good chance it will bore the readers too. So you've written a great beginning, you got a great concept for the story, great characters, and then... you get bored. Ask yourself why? What killed your inspiration / motivation?
    Once you identify the problem, you can rectify it, be it a boring (and probably non-essential) scene, a bland character, or whatever. If the scene is essential, figure out a way how to make it interesting, because pretty much anything can be done well, i.e. in an interesting way.

    It's also a good idea to learn to recognize when you're bored by a scene because it's boring (and needs to be fixed) and when you're bored by it because you've read it 50 times because of the dozens of revisions and drafts you've done polishing the piece.
    The latter is ok, everyone gets sick of their story at one point or another (several times, probably), but it feels a bit different from not enjoying a scene / character / plot line because it's bad. If the content is boring and you're just sick of editing and editing, either take a few days or focus on some other part and before you know it, the inspiration will be back and you'll see the previously boring part for what it is again, a good piece of writing.
     
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  15. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I totally agree. All her books are basically the same story being told over and over again, with the same characters in different places and with different names. That would bore the hell out of me, as a writer. I like the expression "empty book-calories". :) That is a good description.
     
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  16. Mackers
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    Not a good sign, to be honest...
     
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  17. Mackers
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    Mackers Contributing Member

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    Wikipedia says that Nora Roberts has written 209 romance novels? Jesus Christ, I can just imagine the drivel...

    Surely this sort of prolific writing pollutes the literature rather than enhances it?

    I remember the comedian Stewart Lee said once that if you read every book in existence, you'd be a lot dumber...I wouldn't disagree with that
     
  18. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Mackers: I know, crazy, right? However, despite all that, romance genre remains the most profitable. Apparently, a lot of people love to read the said drivel, which is even more disconcerting than the ability to produce it...
     
  19. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    Could be that she hasn't read something she likes. I never like reading until I read Good Omens. After that... boy, what a rabbit-hole. Authors just kept piling up. I wanted to read Gaiman, Pratchett. Went to Vonnegut and King and Marquez. After finding great appreciation with these authors, I started to delve into others of differing genres (I just read a short by Maupassant, and man am I intrigued by his style and his mentor Flaubert).

    I think the crucial start is to find a genre you'd be interested in. Read something on that genre and then read more. Eventually you'll have books piling up that you're itching to read.

    P.S.

    Also, you can check this book called "How To Read A Book" by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren. You might think it's a stupid book, I mean, you already know how to pick up a book and read! But this book shows you how to read through a book and how to devour it completely. Also, I took some principles from this book and integrated them into my writing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2014
  20. Motley
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    Motley Active Member

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    I think a lot of the start-then-stop problem stems from fear. For me, it was fear that I just wasn't good enough. It has taken me a long time to get to the point where I can write for the sake of writing and enjoy the risk of sending my stories out there to face possible rejection.

    Instead of "Make a great living writing amazing fiction" your goal, make "write 500 words today" your goal. The accomplishments will build momentum. The shift for me came when I realized I was treating writing like a hobby instead of a job. I now schedule it, have daily goals and set tasks I have to complete no matter what.
     
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