1. Jaydrian

    Jaydrian New Member

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    I NEED HELP

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Jaydrian, Jan 7, 2017.

    How do you keep it up? I have the ideas, I have the plot, I have the characters, and I have the damn talent, but I can never keep a project going before giving up or quitting out of writer's block or shifting mood. How do you keep yourself tuned to creating a detailed beginning to end story for your characters?
     
  2. Dnaiel

    Dnaiel Senior Member

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    I gave up on my book hundreds of times. It's almost finished.

    In other words, you could let whatever troubles you take its course and put your WIP aside for a time, and that way it's always there when you're ready to go back to it.
     
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  3. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

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    I have trouble sticking to my own advice sometimes, but make a routine. If you are not too busy, then set aside some time every day, or every week, where you wil sit down at a desk and only write. That can be your time. Once the routine is established, it will become difficult to break, and hopefully generate an environment in which you can be concentrated and committed to your project. Good luck!
     
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  4. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Staff Contributor

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    You don't need HELP, you need to keep yourself focused. How to do that? Well - start with 'committing to the project'. Sounds heartless? Tough luck. We can't make you finish or even carry you over the finish line, that has to be done by you, alone.

    This is the same old story I see everywhere around me time and time again, and it annoys me no end. If I really want an outcome I have to take the steps to make it true. If not - well then obviously I don't care that much.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
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  5. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    I don't know you or your story, but not long ago I was lamenting exactly the same things you're describing, and I have a few suggestions/questions for you to reflect on:

    1) Plan in such a way as to honour your learning style.

    If you are a kinesthetic learner, apply this to your planning: get tactile. Get colourful. Get down on the floor and lay out hundreds of colour coded cue cards with notes to help you arrange your thoughts. If you are a visual learner, download some brainstorming/mindmapping apps on your computer or phone and watch your ideas take shape on the screen in a visual and interesting way. And so on. This is a hugely inspiring task and really helps clear your head in preparation for continued inspiration and a sense of empowerment to write!

    2) Have you filled all your plot holes and identified every major (and several minor) stepping stones (events, conflicts) that will propel your story?

    I thought for a long time that I had all my ideas and plot points sorted, but when I started setting out my planning and ideas in a way that my brain best understood and responded to (see learning styles), I realised I had a lot of inconsistencies and plot holes. This was resulting in me hitting brick wall after brick wall in terms of my inspiration and desire to continue writing. I hadn't realised it, but my book was just not ready to be written yet. I had to go back to square one and build it up, brick by brick, filling in the holes as I went. The result was profound. I have written almost daily and even though I occassionally hit a slump where I'm feeling unmotivated, this has never turned into writers' block and has always passed after a few days or a week or so.

    3) I know this sounds weird, but try writing letters/diary entries to or from your characters or book. I have a separate notebook for this. Sometimes when I'm feeling particularly uninspired or frustrated, I will go and vent about this, addressing these thoughts - written as a letter - to whichever character is relevant (or sometimes to the book itself). Often this helps clear my head and results in a 'lightbulb' moment where something I didn't even realise was a problem with the book (or with me!) that I can deal with in order to move forward.

    4) Develop a S.M.A.R.T. Goal plan. Example:
    SPECIFIC: Complete first draft by April 30, 2018 (doesn't matter how bad it is. First draft is writer speak for shit pile of words that have eventual potential)
    MEASURABLE: Daily word output goals to track progress towards goal
    ACHIEVABLE/ACTION-ORIENTED: The goal is something you can be proactive about and take practical steps towards accomplishing
    REALISTIC: Is writing 80,000 words in 15 months realistic? This is 5,333 words per month. Approximately 1,333 per week. Approximately 190 words per day. That's, what, 2 paragraphs? Can you write 2 paragraphs a day? Even if they are shit, so what? That's a realistic goal. You can edit the shit later. You can't edit it if you don't write it.
    TIME-BOUND: Do you have a time frame on it, with regular time-bound check in points? Yes. Daily/weekly/monthly output goals. That's trackable. Breaks down a huge task into small, regular, realistic mini-goals.

    5) Don't waste time thinking about how other people write their books. Everybody writes differently. Some rise at 3:00am. Some stay up until 3:00am and then sleep until midday. Some only write by hand, some only with a coffee on their desk, some only standing up. The list goes on. Don't compare yourself to others and don't berate yourself for your own process and journey.

    6) Invest in some self-reflection tasks. What are you most afraid of? Is that fear reasonable? (I was afraid that I would go to all the effort of writing a whole book and then never get published, and so I wasn't writing. Obviously I'll never get published if I never write...) What is a truth or a challenge to combat your fear? Find a one-line catchphrase that you can use - write and stick up to whichever surface is at your eye level on a daily basis - that reminds you of the fallacy within that fear. Once you recognise the lie within the fear, you can actively stand against it and just write.

    Ultimately, you need to figure out what works for you. Everyone else can just keep their opinions to themselves, just as you can keep your opinion about their process to yourself. We each need to figure this out at our own pace, employing our own strategies and tactics that work to inspire and invigorate our own spirits. Don't listen to the people who suggest you are doing it wrong for being in the space you're in. Be encouraged! We are all walking the same grueling path!!
     
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  6. DueNorth

    DueNorth Senior Member

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    @N.Phillips I especially appreciate your line that "first draft is writerspeak for..." You gave a very thorough answer. I'll only add one thing. Those who succeed at anything that requires great skill tend to have one trait in common: self-discipline.
     
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  7. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    @DueNorth Definitely. I just remember being told, when I was in the funk described by the OP, that all I needed was dedication and self-discipline, and it only compounded my frustration and guilt (because dedication and self-discipline are very vague concepts when they aren't backed up by practical suggestions). So, some of the actions and behaviours I've described are active ways in which somebody can develop self discipline. But yes, you are correct, of course! :)
     
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  8. Integer

    Integer Member

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    Do you just wake up in the morning and say, "I'm not going to work today because my mood has shifted and I don't really feel like it"?

    Well, its the same. I'm afraid.
     
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  9. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    The difference being, of course, that most people are writing for fun, and not working for fun.
     
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  10. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    This is exactly what I do with writing. When I don't feel like writing, I don't write.

    Why would I want to make my hobby into another job? I already have one of those.

    When you feel like writing, write. When you don't, don't. If you never feel like writing, then find another hobby.
     
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  11. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Yeah, it's going to depend on goals, really.

    If you have the goal of enjoying your leisure time with a creative pursuit, then maybe all you ever do is dream up plots and outline stories and enjoy the part of the process that comes easily to you.

    But if you have the goal of producing a finished piece of writing, then you have to be willing to sacrifice for that goal.

    There seems to be a myth that if you're good at putting a few sentences together then writing is easy for you and you should just do it. But for most people, writing a full-length work, and then polishing the damn thing to completion, is a lot of hard work. I think one of the important steps in completing something is acknowledging that it's not going to be easy, and asking yourself why you think it's worthwhile. Once you've figured that out you can use it as motivation to keep working (or you can realize you don't actually have a reason and find something more productive to do with your time).
     
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  12. DueNorth

    DueNorth Senior Member

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    I agree that, as writing is a hobby for me as well, that I don't want to push it and write when I really don't "feel like" it; like I used to go to work (now retired) many days when I didn't feel like it. However, I do sit down to write many days because I've made a commitment (only to myself) to do so--I may not at all "feel like" writing when I sit down. Some of those days I am better at editing, some days I get into it once I get going, some days I reread a passage I'd written the day before and it motivates me (either because I like it or hate it).

    I used to do a lot of skiing in the winter. Many times sitting in my house on a cold winter morning I did not feel like going out into the cold and going skiing, and only did so because I'd agreed to meet a friend at the trailhead at a certain hour--then once I got out there I was so glad I was on the trail. Successful writers set aside time to write. I'm not suggesting making it a "job," like forcing yourself to write when you don't feel well, but having a workable regimen leads to productivity.
     
  13. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    I know this was rhetorical, but... to replace your job? You know, so you don't have to commute and you can work in your jammys. It's why I switched to writing from acting. :)

    I do a variation on this. If I can't get things going in an hour, I pack it in and do something else. But...

    For me, writer's block comes up when I don't have a solid plan, an outline that keeps me focused on where I'm going. Sure, I can pants with the best of them, but a detailed plan makes it easier for me to pants my way through a scene and from one event to the next.

    If you're curious about how I plan a story, check out Dwight V. Swain's book (see my sig) for the kind of details I like to put in a plan.
     
  14. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Ah but I'm not delusional, so I don't think I will earn a living from writing :p
     
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  15. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    My motto is "intend, don't expect."
     
  16. Integer

    Integer Member

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    You probably won't be able to make your living from writing, but as far as I can see you can certainly earn an income from it if you keep churning stuff out and getting repeat readers.

    I work in marketing, which I am not very keen on. The next step up the career ladder for me would realistically probably involve working about 15 - 20 hours a week more than I do now, much more stress, and taking on a role where your are never really allowed to be offline anyway.

    After tax, realistically this would probably net me all of about £7000 a year more than I am getting now.

    If I can plough the same amount of hours into writing and eventually make something like that I would consider that job done.

    I am pretty much assuming that I will end up self publishing and having to do my own marketing and promotion.
     
  17. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Yes but, realistically, you aren't going to make anywhere near £7,000 a year from writing.
     
  18. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Well... it's not impossible.

    I've said it before: my writing is not outstanding. I'm not a great talent or anything. There's nothing unique or special about what I produce. But I make reasonable money from it.

    I don't mean to say it's easy, or that there isn't a serious element of luck/timing involved. But it's not impossible to make at least some money from writing.
     
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  19. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I didn't say it was impossible!
     
  20. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Okay, I misread - the "realistically you aren't going to" made it sound like an absolute... but I'd totally agree that people probably aren't going to...
     
  21. Integer

    Integer Member

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    They definitely won't if they don't finish anything...
     
  22. Integer

    Integer Member

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    Thanks for the vote of confidence.

    :meh:
     
  23. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I'm really sorry; I didn't mean that to sound how it did. The 'you' there is any author, not you in particular. Income doesn't really correlate to talent or even success in this business - hardly any published authors are making enough money to be able to give up or even reduce their day job. I would hate to make career plans based on earning money from writing, and then find out I could publish two books a year and still only make pocket money.

    Who knows - maybe you'll be the next J K Rowling. :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2017
  24. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    Says who?

    This may sound harsh, but I can still remember my parents telling me "you've got the ability, but [your brother] has got stick-ability".

    Part of "talent" is that stick-ability, and you're the only one who can make yourself stick...unless you want your parents to send you to your room until you've finished your homework novel?
     
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  25. Integer

    Integer Member

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    Haha dont worry about it. I need to develop a thicker skin.
     

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