1. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    What do you do when you get stuck?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by cazann34, Jul 16, 2014.

    A while ago I decided to move on from writing short stories (some of which can be read here) and restart my novel. I submitted a short excerpt of my first chapter on this forum for feedback, it's called Friarswood, but I'm having problems. My problem is I'm stuck. But it's not because I don't know where the stories going (I wrote 5,000 word layout) I just seem to have just lost steam. Lost enthusiasm. Lost motivation.

    My question is what do you do when you've lost steam in your story? How to you get it back? I have wondered if perhaps the story has already been written in my head, the 5,000 word layout, and that is why I can't write it and I should just move on with another project? Is there some way I can rekindle my interest in this story or am I just trying to flog a dead horse. What are your thoughts?
     
  2. Amanda_Geisler
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    Amanda_Geisler Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Don't move onto a new project, the whole point is actually to discipline your mind by finishing what you start. I am actually in this slump of my own except I'm on the other end of the manuscript, I am less than 10,000 words off finishing.
    I often read through it sometimes that rekindles the writing spirit or I read books and watch movies on a similar subject that can help too.
    To be honest I think my problem is my trip to the city, I came back from Brisbane in April, I went for a week, I didn't write for weeks afterwards, and now I went to Townsville for a few nights almost two weeks ago and I have barely managed 2,000 words. But at the moment I am getting distracted by my next series project and the ideas that I'm getting.

    I suggest you try and find a comfortable place to write that is quiet (or noisy, depends what you prefer) and distraction free.

    Is your 5,000 word layout like an outline... If it is I suggest maybe trying to go without the outline, it could be stopping further creativity, let you mind be a little spontaneous.
     
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  3. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    When I get stuck, it's usually from writing myself in a corner. I back up and try again.
     
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  4. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    Today I wrote out 5k words of my first fantasy novel. I did get stuck a few times, and each time I went away, did something mundane or picked up a novel to read and let it sit for 30mins of so. Then I realised that the scene I had set or the explanation I gave weren't the best choices. They were the obvious choices and inside I just wasn't happy with them. When I went back and changed the offending parts, my flow returned.

    Maybe it's because something about your original layout is bugging you. It may not have anything wrong with it, but it just isn't the best you could see yourself doing? It's very hard to continue on with a project that secretly you think is flawed from the start.
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    And what's worse is when your brain refuses to let you admit to yourself that the project had big flaws and you could do better. Instead, your brain says, "Problem? No, no, there's no problem. No problem at all! Keep going, this is the idea you started with, so let's keep it."
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I take a break from the piece and either work on another piece or work on something unrelated to writing (go outside and do stuff, read a book, etc.).
     
  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I notice that if I overplan a project it's hard to feel the magic when writing because it's like I'm trying to recapture an exciting journey. I've been there and done that - worse yet, I know that this is the first draft and that I'll have to retake this journey again and again like a commuter stuck on a subway. And it's not that I don't plan, I don't for short stories but I do for novels, it's that now, I don't plan every detail.

    So for the first draft I try and keep things exciting by imagining it all - new twists, different choices the character can make and I even go off the rails and follow one of these ideas. This way the writing stays fresh. Plus, I try not to let too much time go by in between bouts of writing. The longer I can accept being away from a project the easier it is to ditch.
     
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  8. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Personally, I disagree. Setting the current project aside and working on something else for a while can really help clear the mind and reset your thoughts. That way, you will return back to the original project with a fresh mind. Working on something else for a while can re-invigorate the creative juices that may have been strained through overuse, and you'll find that you don't really want to work on the 'distraction' in the first place. And if you do, perhaps the original idea wasn't as captivating as it should have been. There's no point flogging a dead horse and writing isn't a race. As I like to say: all in due time.

    You say you lost steam. Well, everything gets boring after a while. When steam pressure drops it takes a while to warm up again and build the pressure to the point where it is functional. When I get stuck, I take a long walk. Thinking and planning while not being able to write builds up pressure.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2014
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  9. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I'm for both sides on this one, @Selbbin . Pick a few stories you intend to finish to the end, that way you can jump back and forth whenever creativity for one story is stalled.

    Though I agree with you, if the idea turns out to be uninteresting to you, then drop it (but don't delete it) and move on to something else.
     
  10. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Take a break until it comes back.
     
  11. Kite2
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    Kite2 New Member

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    it can often be difficult when writing if you write yourself into a corner, if that's the case you may want to go back and unwrite a bit but if you just cant think of how to go off from there then its best to let it sit.
     
  12. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    Thank you everyone who replied to my little quandary.
    To Amanda_Geisler
    I read you advise with interest and have even tried some of what you have suggested:reading books and watching movies on similar subjects to my novel. I'm wary of doing that because I may inadvertently copy other's work. Also I have a semi-unique topic which isn't easy to categorise and haven't found anything similar in books or movies.
    I also get distracted easily. I think that is my main problem. That, and the fact, that in my head I have written the story already, I'm referring to my 5,000 word outline. I'm a seat-of-the pants kind of writer ( I have heard it called a pantser) I get a thrill out of making it up as I go along. Interesting enough I hit a wall when my rewrite joined my original draft and that's when I lost my way.

    To Renee j: No I haven't written myself into a corner but I do have a few chapters that have dead ends. Where to I go from here sort of thing. How do I join the chapters together? As I said to Amanda I need to reinvent my story. I planned it out too vigorously and have lost all interest in it. I should think of it as organic life form and allow it to grow without pruning it into a shape its resistant to go.

    To PensiveQuill:
    I've tried going away and doing something else. I have done a few story stories and have gone back to writing the novel only to get stumped a few thousand words into it.
    "Something about my original layout is bugging me" Yes, it is. I have considered a few possibilities: I have over planned and I have lost interest due to that; I don't know my characters enough; the progression of the story is wrong (I'm starting too far back and I should start in the clutches of the story) I should write something for adults instead of trying children's fantasy for my first attempt at novel writing, and worse of all I've tried to squash too much into the story arch and have overloaded myself. Who knows what the reader would think of it?

    To Link the Write:
    "And what's worse is when your brain refuses to let you admit to yourself that the project had big flaws and you could do better. Instead, your brain says, "Problem? No, no, there's no problem. No problem at all! Keep going, this is the idea you started with, so let's keep it."
    WOW were you reading my mind. That's exactly what going on in my head. I actually thought the opening chapter was the problem but I am now thinking that the whole premise is the problem. I need to scrap it all and start again. I will keep the characters and the setting, the themes but I will completely rewrite the plot.

    To thirdwind:
    I have tried that, I have taken a break and written other stuff and allowed a little too much distraction to occupy my time. It hasn't worked. As I've said before I am just writing the wrong story and it has taken me some time to realise that.

    To pechalulu:
    Yes, yes I am trying to recapture a journey that is well trodden and has become stale in my head. I have over planned, not in minute detail but enough to take all the magic out of the tale.
    I like you idea of giving the characters different choices and even allowing them to go off the rails. I have considered writing short stories with my novels characters in mind and finding out how they'd react to situations I stick them in. I find that far more tantalising than writing the novel. That says a lot, doesn't it?
    And this is the best advice yet: "Plus, I try not to let too much time go by in between bouts of writing. The longer I can accept being away from a project the easier it is to ditch."
    That same idea has FINAL penetrated into my head. When I read I prefer to read in long bouts or I get distracted and don't return to the book, sometimes for months. So I finally hit upon the idea that what if I took the same action with my writing, write in long bouts I wouldn't get so distracted or lose steam.
     
  13. MaryMO
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    MaryMO Member

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    I've done that more times than I can count with the one I'm currently working on and I'm only on Chapter 6! In fact, I think I just did it again.
     
  14. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    I suck on a Charms blow pop or i will go out to the pistol range.

    I have on the back of my property and take a little target practice with.

    Either my Glock 17 9mm pistol or my S&W .38 caliber revolver.

    the second method might be a bit extreme but it helps me.
     
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  15. Alexz7272
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    Alexz7272 Member

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    What works great for me in going out into nature. I live in Colorado so I have immediate access to the outdoors. My writing has improved tenfold since moving here from DC. For me, it helps clear my mind. Also, doing any kind of physical activity works great too, even for something such as a simple walk. It is all about reconnecting to your own mind and disconnecting all the distractions. Best of luck!
     
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