Do you keep typing when you aren't feeling anything?

Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Tea@3, Dec 20, 2015.

  1. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think this can be good advice, but I'm actually working on a sort of opposite approach, myself, because writing isn't my job. And my job is fairly demanding, and I have other commitments, and while I make money from writing, it isn't my principle source of income. It's my hobby, and as such, it's supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable. If I turn it into a job, then suddenly I have two jobs, and that's not really what I'm looking for.

    I've only written 334K new words this year, and I'm supposed to write 365K this year, according to my personal goals. So 30K words to get written before the end of the year, and I could do that, if I actually had to. But it would mean pushing myself pretty hard, after a pretty stressful fall and early-winter at my real job, and it would mean that I wouldn't enjoy my Xmas vacation with my family as much as I could. So I'm trying really hard to not treat writing like a job, right now, and to let myself relax about it.

    Now, I could very well have a couple days of pure inspiration and energy and meet my goal anyway, but if I don't? That's okay. (It's okay, Bayview... it's okay. Really. You don't have to meet every goal you ever set. You're still a worthwhile human being. etc.)

    So, point of all that? It depends on the individual. Some people need a kick in the pants, others need to stop kicking themselves in the pants. Some people write best with discipline, others write best with waiting for inspiration, and sometimes you need a mix of the two.

    I really don't think there's going to be a one-size-fits-all answer, here. And I don't think all "professional writers" follow the same approach any more than all amateurs do. (When I look at how long it takes for some authors to get a book out, I know they aren't following the same approach I do!).
     
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  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    @BayView this guy has been writing full time since the 1970s so he may have somewhat of a different perspective. And I think it is true that not everyone works the same way. I think he's basically getting at the idea that if you want to be a full time writer it takes a lot of work and you've got to be willing to put that time in. Write, finish what you start, get it out there, start something else, etc.
     
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  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    The paraphrased version is pretty hard to argue with, for sure!

    I do wonder whether being a full-time writer should be a goal for most of us... I mean, I dream about it, but mostly in a semi-retired, financial-stability-provided-via-investments-or-other-sources kind of way. Actually being a full-time writer, living the way a lot of them have to live? I think there's a lot to be said for being a hobby writer!
     
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  4. Tea@3

    Tea@3 Senior Member

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    Great advice!
     
  5. KennyAndTheDog

    KennyAndTheDog New Member

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    When I'm not feeling it - and this is very mercenary of me- I get my ghosting done. It tends to be non fiction so doesn't need masses of heart, or much of me at all, in it, but I still feel as though I'm working. I do make myself write though. 3-4 hours a day and most of that is animal care facts that will end up with other people's names on or my own work that gets very heavily edited.

    I also agree with people who say they can't write if they're not feeling it, though. Ir can be very hard to write stuff that you know you'll scrap. When i'm not inspired most of what I write can be utter tosh, but occasionally a little gem comes out of it.

    if you can make yourself work when your muse has left you it does tend to return quicker, even if you do have to get rid of a lot of work afterwards. I'm not sure that makes much sense... it's late and I'm full of cake
     
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  6. WriterMMS

    WriterMMS Member

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    I write on, even if its something i drasticalky change or delete later, becahse even then i make progress i knowing what not to write.
     
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  7. Aaron Smith

    Aaron Smith Contributor Contributor

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    Sometimes. But it's never the good parts.
     
  8. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    Yup... I think... mostly assuredly I do... but only if...

    What you're experiencing is The Struggle (note the title case) and by gum it's good to finally have a documented case of it on file (we were all beginning to worry).

    Not one single writer I know (or have ever heard of) has ever struggled with getting words down on the page. I can't imagine it myself. It should never take longer to write a book than to read one (I think Plato was once quoted as saying this by Sir Francis who was subsequently paraphrased by Stephen King, so it must be true).

    So, now that we've finally found the one person to whom this tragedy has befallen, we can all go back to work. Okay, everybody... heads down. Nothing to see here.

    :)
     
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  9. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    I must apologize for the previous posting. I think my body was taken over by John Cleese for a moment there. I have no memory of having actually written the damn thing.
     
  10. Tea@3

    Tea@3 Senior Member

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    @Sack-a-Doo! I literally lol'd. (love the username btw) :superagree:
     
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  11. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    Why, thank you, Tea@3.

    The name is a word my wife says in place of common expletives. She's always said it and I have no conception of its origins (nor does she). I'm considering someday using it as the title of a novel.
     
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  12. Tea@3

    Tea@3 Senior Member

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    Yes it's great to have sessions of inspired writing where The Right Words just flow so easily. Nobody's saying that's a bad thing.

    But what some here are failing to do is concede some power to the other side of that coin. Which is, uninspired Churning Out Words has a lot of value, too. If for nothing else, as an exercise to get "unstuck".

    Nobody's saying the stuff you churn will be as good as your inspired output, though actually the churned stuff can sometimes TURN OUT AS GOOD OR EVEN BETTER even to the point where YOU YOURSELF ARE SURPRISED. You read back a month later and say "Who wrote that? I wrote that?"

    But if one doesn't churn, how will they ever know? (Again, not saying do this every time. )

    Now, the other flip side. What if I type for a while and end up with Nothing Good: does that hurt me? How does it hurt me? Maybe it...

    wasted time I coulda spent coming up with The Right Words but I didn't because, instead, I was stupidly wasting time churning unusable stuff?

    (Oh wait, if I had been busy typing out The Right Words to begin with, the 'churn it out' option woulda never popped up in the first place. Hmmmm.)

    I think some of the best things happen by accident sometimes. "Ah, the joy of the unfettered freewrite!"

    I hereby pledge to embrace my inner clutz. lol
     
  13. EricaJRothwell

    EricaJRothwell Active Member

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    I'm so glad you were able to blow off the cobwebs and add 1,100 brand new words to your novel!

    This post has helped me so much, you don't even know. For the last few months, I really want to write. It's pretty much all I can think about but I'm also a mood writer and for some reason I'm just not feeling anything I write, as soon as I open up a blank word document that awful inner voice comes to tell me that I'm wasting my time, it's too hard - I'll never get finished, my writing just isn't good enough. Now, I'm going to repeat that gorgeous little sentence to myself "You can't edit what isn't there".

    Beautiful!
     
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  14. Tea@3

    Tea@3 Senior Member

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    This just came to me:

    'You decide the right thing to say, in order to type several pages.'

    'You type several pages, in order to decide the right thing to say.'
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
  15. Tea@3

    Tea@3 Senior Member

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    That sounds like a good cycle length.
     
  16. Tesoro

    Tesoro Contributor Contributor

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    I Agree. I actually read a blog that talked about the same thing recently. That if our goal is to make writing our job (however nice that sounds) our success is going to be determined by how much we sell, not by quality, or what the readers think of the books. Just because they buy them doesn't mean they like them in the end. Plus, will it still be as rewarding when we're depending on it to pay the bills? I know a lot of writers do that and enjoy it, but maybe it's not the ideal life for everyone who likes to write?
     
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  17. Malisky

    Malisky Mercury Retroblade Contributor

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    I do this all of the time. There are specific segments in my stories that don't come easy. Not plot-wise but mood-wise. On a second novel I'm struggling with from time to time, I have trouble setting the mood in the beginning of the story. I've re-writen it many times and I never conclude anywhere because it is forced and it shows. No matter how much I've tried so far I just don't "feel" it so it comes out chaotic and generally badly written, but I find no other way around it than try to write it anyway. Sometimes forcing yourself to write is inescapable.

    I don't pressure myself too much though. I work on it whenever I'm taking breaks from the novel I'm focused on now, which is going pretty well. This acts as a counter balance for my overall writing-esteem and my progress upon getting the thing going.
     
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  18. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I do think there are more ways to 'work' at your writing than just sitting and pounding words out. As long as you're thinking about your story and creating in your head and working towards the moment you feel you can sit down and write it, I'd say you're working. As long as it gets done eventually. (Obviously if you're financially tied to producing an article a week, or something like that, you do need to write through any blocks. But that's different from being a novelist working for yourself.)

    I expect that some people who set themselves a 500-word goal to write every day may well, on occasion, write 1500 words at a sitting, if they're inspired to do so. This is the flip side of not writing when it's not working.

    I remember working 16 hours straight and producing two chapters that were each around 10,000 words long in a single day. (That's my record thus far!) But that was balanced by other days when I didn't write much at all. I was pretty much writing every day during that period, finishing the first draft of my novel, but I didn't feel compelled to reach a daily goal. Instead I went off to do more visualising, or researching a point that had got me stuck, or looking at pictures that would get me inspired again.

    My point isn't that everybody should work like I do, but that 'working' at your creative writing can take many different forms. I believe there isn't much point in sitting and hammering out words that feel unconnected to what you want to say. You'll probably end up ditching them, and feeling discouraged at the crap state of your writing. Or tinkering with them during the edit stage and wondering what in heck will make them work at all. Better to back off and recharge the batteries, as @BayView does. Working on story problems in your head is not the same as procrastinating.
     
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  19. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView Supporter

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    I find that when I think I'm writing rubbish, because I feel uninspired or tired or whatever, when I later go back and read it, it's FAR better than I was expecting.

    But if I'm really not feeling it, I tend to edit rather than write new words. I can always edit, probably because of my job, whereas creating new scenes takes more effort.
     
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  20. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm sure that this is true for many people; it's not true for me. Many of my favorite bits of writing were written in that "sit down and drag words out of myself, kicking and screaming, with tweezers" writing mode, a mode where, also, everything I write seems dreadful as I'm writing it. I won't quite go so far as to say that that mode produces my best writing, but it's actually quite possible.
     
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  21. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, if the kinds of examples you pull out of the hat to illustrate points are anything to go by, your method works! :)
     
  22. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Active Member

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    I have heard conflicting advice on this, and I wonder if it distinguishes writing for pleasure versus writing for career.

    Another piece of advice I have heard that directly relates to this is the converse: stop writing at a designated time limit, even if you feel like continuing. Pick it up next session. The idea is to reinforce that writing is not supposed to be dependent on being in a writing mood.

    I have to admit this conflicts with one reason I want to change my profession to writing: I want to have more flexible hours that can adapt to an unpredictable household.
     
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  23. Malisky

    Malisky Mercury Retroblade Contributor

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    That's because there is not an absolute right in writing or upon its process as a matter of fact. You find what helps you personally on the way. I do both. Sometimes pushing myself gives me the answer, but sometimes I "feel" that I need a break and not think about it at all. When I'm finished with a long piece of writing and edit it, I find that it helps me more to disconnect with it completely for a while in order to re-edit it.

    I' d advice you to keep your job. Writing can take time to give fruits. If you feel so dedicated to writing, then what about finding another job? A part time at least.
     
  24. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Active Member

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    It's more that I'm planning the transition to coincide with retirement from the current career. Instead of continuing with consulting in my old field (project management), I would like to try something that gives me more control over my schedule, and requires less standing, travel, &c. I'm getting very tired of airports and conference rooms.

    My timeframe is in the 10 year range (I'm almost 50), I figure it takes at least that long to get competent enough to start getting paid.
     
  25. R.P. Kraul

    R.P. Kraul Member

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    When I'm writing regularly--it's been a while--I found a trick in moving from day to day: I stop in the middle of a scene. I've found this is easier than starting a fresh scene, because I'm able to jump into the moment faster.
     

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