1. Darkcula

    Darkcula Member

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    Need advise on my writing process

    Discussion in 'By Writing Form' started by Darkcula, Mar 6, 2018.

    There is this problem I am currently facing with my writing I am not able to suppress the feeling of re-reading my WIP multiple times (thinking that there is always room for corrections/enhancements) which eventually is leading to disinterest/boredom toward my work and I am not able to progress any further.

    Also, I am not able to decide when to take a break from writing and when to resume back to writing. When I somehow collect my shit together and pick back again from where I had left, there is a lack of passion that originally was not there when I had initially started developing my story.
     
  2. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I feel ya. It’s definately an endurance match.

    I sort of copied a method I read some other authors use, and while I’m not published, I feel like it’s working for me.

    1 month plan
    3 month 1st draft
    1 month other projects
    2 month second draft
    1 month 3rd and 4th draft
    1 month beta read
    1 month beta reader revisions
    submit and forget, do better on the next one

    The built in breaks and fast pace keep my ADD in check enough to “finish.”
     
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  3. John-Wayne

    John-Wayne Madman Extradinor Contributor

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    I know how you feel, I suffer from the same thing.... Though I do find that writing by hand lessens the urge to go back since i can't really edit persay.... I can make notes... but crossing off is about the most editing I can do. Plus, it implants in my brain that this is just a rough-rough.

    But one of my main books I think i've revised and went over about 70 times. :p. I just know i'm on Revision 7.# . But I never truly seem to loose interest in my stories however. So I can't be much help there.
     
  4. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Supporter Contributor

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    I had that issue with a book I tried to write. I got so sick and tired of rereading and revising that I started to want to kill off the MC just so I could have a different one. What helped me was taking a break from that story and working on another. With the next story I refused to reread it (and thus revise it) until I had a full completed draft. That helped a lot.

    Try writing the whole story out, then go back for a reread/revise. It might take some effort to retrain your way of thinking, but just keep reminding yourself "this is only the first draft; I can fix anything in future drafts," and you should be able to do it.
     
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  5. M_Steele

    M_Steele New Member

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    Your writing method sounds similar to mine haha. At least in that you don't like to set yourself to schedules and would rather let creativity flow when it desires to. It is a pleasant way to write, but often not the most productive, and as you've seen can be quite frustrating. While I still don't stick to a rigid schedule I have found a way of being more productive, a technique that I've come across many times in my research. That is sometimes you just have to march on with your story, even if you feel like what you have could be better. In this way you're at least getting more of the story down in writing and can then go back edit it as needed to make it better. Usually I will wait and do a major edit every month or two. I will take some time to distance my self from the work by not reading to and concentrating on other things. Then I will go back through it and see how it reads, making edits as I go. After that it's back to writing. Sometimes the writing is inspired, sometimes I just have to sit there and get something on paper that I can edit later.
     
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  6. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    I feel you. That's what I find myself doing, though I wouldn't say that the constant rereading and backtracking makes me tired of the story. As other people here have suggested, I have been writing my first draft of my current story with pencil in a notebook, and that does help with really focusing on the here-and-now. But...even then, I still have a bad habit of going back and making edits to earlier chapters, which I do by typing them up in a Word document. When I start typing, my brain goes into "editing mode", whereas I am not nearly as analytical when hand-writing on paper. As far as I can tell, the first, hand-written draft is to get the scenes written out in a chronological order, and then typing helps clean everything up. But even though this process of mine can be seen as a form of procrastination, I have actually come up with great new ideas while typing which then affects what I hand write later. But, I do not believe that my back-and-forth process is too damaging for my forward progress, as I only hand-write on weekdays while at work, and then I only type on weekends.

    As you can see, I struggle with some of the things you're dealing with as well, but I do agree with others that hand-writing the first draft might help you get the basics of the story and scenes down without over-analyzing everything.
     
  7. noobienieuw

    noobienieuw Banned

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    IMHO you should not review, edit, rewrite, or do anything until you have finished writing.

    And understand that at some point any/all changes will not be making anything better but merely different.
    Make the changes that are clearly needed and than stop.

    When it is as good as you can do then you need to declare it done and hand it off to an editor for any more work.
     
  8. graveleye

    graveleye Senior Member

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    this this this!!
    Just write it. Get it all out. All of it.

    Then you go back and start making changes, expanding here and cutting there.
    But definitely get the whole thing out first.
     
  9. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Agree with @noobienieuw and @Elven Candy. I find that creative writing requires enthusiasm and belief in the great end product I am creating. SOnds a bit egotistical, but I keep telling myself what a great package it is, it keeps me going. I have always done the same with technical writing which I do professionally as an engineer. Editing, on the other hand, requires a critical mindset, sort of "what the hell was I thinking when I wrote that piece of crap" thing. Which will totally extinguish my creativity if I try to do both at the same time. So here is my first draft editing routine: as soon as I hit the enter key, I go back and scan the new paragraph for spag, rhythm, imagery, and especially, tag lines. I will usually leave in more taglines than necessary on the first draft, to make sure I have the right character speaking. After I finish a chapter, I review it for all of the above, and ask myself if the actions/decisions are consistent with the characters as I know them. Then I print a copy for my wife @K McIntyre, she marks it up, we argue a bit about various things, then I drop in the final changes and that's it, done to the first draft is finished. Then I will put on my editor's hat and sort the culling, polishing, rewriting.

    I write long stories, @250K words , and the editing process can be long and painful. I did seven major revision to The Eagle and the Dragon, and innumerable rereads for low-level spag, eliminating tag lines, unnecessary adverbs, etc. As my friend David Poyer, with 40 major books to his credit over as many years, told me... edit your book until can't stand to look at it again. Then take a break, and edit it some more. But don't do that while you are writing t eh first draft.

    As to scheduling, I don't think anyone can match my break. After five years, I had gotten about 1/3 of the way through the story, decided it was a bloated piece of crap at 100K words and nowhere close to finished, and I was going into ancient China about which I knew nothing. Got discouraged, just quit, and it languished for more than ten years in limbo, hiding on my hard drive. Then something happened to motivate me (and a consulting job that had taken up my night time writing time went away) and I picked it up again, and finished in about three more years, a total of about 20 years gestation.

    It was worth the wait. So even if you get discouraged, as I did, make sure you don't forget about it, because you finish later.
     
  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Just chiming in as someone with a different point of view. I absolutely edit as I go. My unit of writing is the scene, and I'm likely to take each scene through three to, oh, maybe ten drafts before I call it done.

    That's not to say that you SHOULD do that. I, personally, need to do that, because much of my pleasure in writing is seeing those chunks of smooth prose, and without that pleasure, I'm not going to write. And--again, this is just me--the full meaning of the scene often doesn't come out for me until it's polished. An unpolished scene doesn't feel--to me--like a strong foundation for writing related scenes.

    That doesn't mean that I keep the whole thing perfect. If I discover that a scene is going to require me to heavily rewrite a preexisting scene, I don't go back at that time--I make a note, and I keep going on the new scene. I may write a dozen more scenes before I get around to responding to my note and doing that rewrite.

    So demanding perfection is a bad idea. Editing so much that you don't make forward progress is a bad idea. But I don't agree that editing before you're done is inherently a bad idea. It depends on what motivates you and what helps you create.
     
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  11. noobienieuw

    noobienieuw Banned

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    But how do you know all your scenes are going to fit when the whole thing is done?
    If you have to fix plot holes or make other changes then all that editing some scene was totally wasted effort if you toss it or have to redo it.

    Finish the story then see what needs to be deleted, changed, or augmented before you fix the details making scenes perfect.
    Without the correct scenes in the correct order you are putting lipstick on a pig that is irrelevant in the end.
     
  12. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    That advice may work for you. It doesn't work for me. If putting lipstick on that pig keeps me motivated and entertained and creative, it's worth it. Finishing a book in an inefficient manner is better than requiring absolute efficiency and never finishing it.

    Imagine that I have a choice:

    1) Spending a hundred hours writing ten scenes, only four of which I use.
    or
    2) Spending a hundred hours playing on my laptop watching YouTube videos and posting to WritingForums.

    Which of these is a more efficient use of that hundred hours, in terms of getting writing done? I say number 1. You can say that I SHOULD be capable of a maximally efficient number 3, but...I'm not. That's not how I write.

    Re your specific question: I don't know they'll all fit. Probably six out of ten scenes do fit. As I get closer and closer to the ending, that number will likely get smaller. I realized, rather abruptly sometime last week, that because I write scenes across a large period of story time, the narrowing of story time due to the pending ending makes writing harder for me--I'm struggling with maintaining my scene quota. It occurred to me that I can pretend that there's going to be a sequel, and allow myself to roam into that part of the story timeline.

    Anyway. That last bit probably belongs in my progress journal. I'll go put it there.
     
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  13. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I also review and edit as I go along instead of waiting until the end. I also very, very rarely wind up writing a scene that gets tossed out in my self-editing process. I don't really outline heavily but I have a pretty good sense before I start working on a story how I'm going to get from Point A to Point B to Point C, and I just write scenes that... do that.

    My books are pretty straightforward though (contemporary settings, close adherence to the guidelines of my genre, etc.), so that probably makes it easier. I'm not creating worlds or writing complex mysteries where you have to keep a lot of balls in the air. They meet, they fall in love, they get their Happily Ever After. Done, done and done. :)
     
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  14. noobienieuw

    noobienieuw Banned

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    You have to do what works for you.

    I was taught to work smarter not harder.
    I hate wasted effort and rework.

    Now OTOH I am a professional writer so the only motivation I need is to keep my job and/or make more money.
    When/IF I write fiction for fun, then I want to get the most out of the little time I have available.

    As to me, again YMMV, I find that a phrase on a 3x5 card to remind me of a scene is enough.
    I can take all the cards and lay them out on a table. Then it is easy , at least for me, to make sure they are logically sequenced,
    spot plot holes, and see what scenes need changes or deletion.

    It is far easier for me to do that with the cards than to write the whole thing out in detail and then modify/delete the scene.
    And that is a lot faster with a lot less rework too.

    Some people just write. I tried that and failed. Both the novel and almost at keeping my job until I changed my methods.

    These days I am a planner and organiser.
    Know your audience. Who are you writing for and what is your goal. What is their reason for reading. What is their background.

    Know your constraints. Are you word limited. Is there a deadline. Is audience education or other factors a consideration.

    For fiction, pick the genre and brainstorm the premise and logline. What is this story about at the innermost core.

    Write a blurb that describes the story with a little more detail.

    Write a synopsis. This may need iteration with brainstorming scenes although you could use a template to guide this at this high level.

    Then do a detailed scene list with a beat sheet. This is where the real creativity is needed.
    And defining the road map does not kill creativity at all. It makes it easier and more effective.

    If necessary/as appropriate: iterate the above with any character definition, choosing a time frame and setting, and plot details.

    Once you have a complete scene list along with the plot, setting, characters, timeframe, yada yada then the actual writing is easy.
    And you can then switch your creativity from creating the story architecture to how to most creatively describe the scenes to tell the story.

    At this point seeing the scenes flow from your brain to the screen as you check them off the beat sheet is very motivating. Do not stop to edit!

    When you have built the novel around the architecture then you can step back and assess the result. Revise if necessary. Edit to improve wording.
    Fix any final glitches that may still be lurking.

    Non fiction would be similar except that I research factoids to organise and use in place of creating scenes from my imagination.
     
  15. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    To me, your way sounds much harder and much more work. It sounds like you're putting a huge amount of work into ensuring that you never write a wasted word.

    But for me, words are cheap. Easy. Easy and fun. And every word that I write is telling me more about my characters and setting and the events of my novel. Every scene presents me with moments and facts and ideas that, even if that scene doesn't make it into the novel, will probably inform other scenes that do.

    You get that stuff through your prethinking--at least I assume you do. But it's as if you're not "billing" yourself for that work--as if you only see a cost when you start writing words.

    But time spent is time spent, whether you spend it on a whole lot of prework to minimize writing time, or give more of the time to the writing.

    But that doesn't mean that the scene is going to work. I tried to write the Reconciliation scene several different ways. I had to do that, get the characters in the room and interacting with each other, before I realized that there was no reconciling these two characters, at this time, after what happened. Not with their common friend, not without him, not with a threat added, not with drunkenness, not with sobriety, not in public, not in private, not with guilt trips, not with reasoned arguments, not with green eggs, not with ham. It was not going to happen.

    I WANTED the version with the drunkenness and the shrimps to work. Wanted it badly. But, nope.

    At that point I realized that I needed a different way to get their threads back together. And that sent the novel spinning in a different direction.

    If I'd done a lot of 3X5 cards and plot beats and details for the part of the story after that point, that would have been a huge amount of wasted effort--far more than the effort that I wasted on the scene.

    Yeah, I could have forced the scene. I could have picked up Female Protagonist and found the bits that were making her unwilling to forgive, and sanded them off, and made her a smoother, simpler character. Or maybe I could have made her just as complex a character, but a fundamentally different one.

    But that's not what I wanted. Female Protagonist and Male Protagonist and the way they interact are the REASON for this novel. I'm not going to re-mold them.

    Your method, for me, would be a lot slower and with a lot more rework. And it wouldn't even be fun rework--it would be rework of the cards and the scene lists and the beats and all the stuff I wouldn't enjoy at all.

    That assumes that you know that when you start. (Edited to add: Though even if I knew that, it wouldn't make it possible for me to pre-plan in the way you describe.)

    For you. For me, yeah, it totally kills creativity. My creativity comes from watching moments. When she pushed that goblet a few inches away from her on the table, that was a moment that told me things. When he reacted to that action, that told me more things. Those things inform other moments all over the novel.

    I didn't know those things before I wrote that moment, and I wrote that moment in probably draft...five? of writing that scene. In fact, I think I wrote it purely because I wanted an excuse for a visual of the goblet--if I recall correctly, it started out as service to scene-setting, to showing his wealth and the details of his taste. But to me, it has become the action that defined their power relationship at that point in the novel.
     
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  16. noobienieuw

    noobienieuw Banned

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  17. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Re: "That is typical of people who don't understand the approach, or those who just enjoy writing but don't care about finishing or how good the result it."

    Or maybe it's typical of some people who are not precisely identical to you, and have a different way of managing creativity?

    I'm confident that your process is not the only way to finish something good.
     
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  18. noobienieuw

    noobienieuw Banned

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    MAYBE.

    My experience is they think they know what the method is , and then declare it won't work.
    Usually they do not know what planning and organising really is and confuse it with Harvard outlining.
    And most of them did not honestly try it to see if it works.

    Also they are mostly amateurs who can take as long as they want and write about anything, not professionals who have to write on deadline within word/time constraints and also compatible with previous novels/episodes or other considerations like a given topic.

    I never said my way or the highway. What I said is that I have tried both and planning and organising work best for me.
    Full disclosure: I do pants successfully if the piece is small enough. But after a couple thousand words I find planning does it better.
     
  19. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Really? It's only "maybe" a possibility that you haven't found the one true way to write a novel?

    That belief is distinctly disturbing.

    Edited to add: And I'm done with this subthread of this thread. Enjoy the last word.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2018
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  20. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    The words "3X5 cards" makes me want to run screaming into the abyss. But again, I take a much more organic (read: pantsing) approach to my writing.
     
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  21. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    As the first reply lays out, planning is important if you’re stuck. Sit down and write an essay title “The Ideal Writing Process” and see what you can come up with. Often if you face your ow problems as if they are someone else’s ou discover that you are actually smarter than you thought and have the solutions hidden within yourself.

    I use this technique for any serious issue I have (or just for fun sometimes.) Often we don’t know what we know until we actually put it down on paper!

    Other than that I just thought of a idea as soon as I read your about writing one page then filing it away somewhere then writing the next one, and so on. If you make errors in ... that word I’ve fogotten ... er ... sequentiality will do for now ... then you can deal with that when you look back over your work once you’ve written the full rough story, the chapter, or whatever amount best suits your memory and how much of what you’ve written you can hold in head.

    If you try the above don’t fall for the “I’ll just look back and check this or that detail/name/time ...” it’s not important, don’t break the flow.

    Also, if you find editting/polishing up your work annoying or boring then write an essay about why this is and what you could do to make the process more engaging.

    I’ve heard many successful writers say they r frist rough draft out and then lock it in a drawer for between 2-6 months before looking at it again. Just remember that only a few gifted geniuses are able to write a good first draft, the rest of us have to vomit out the best renderig we can and then go through the painstaking process of editting and re-editting over a long period of time in order to have a piece of work that we don’t cringe at on every page. Perfection is a unobtainable goal, but also an untangible guiding force.

    All good artists think their work is below the standards of others becasue they are good writers and never willing to settle. Remember this and don’t be too brutal on yourself.
     
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  22. noobienieuw

    noobienieuw Banned

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    Never said I had the one true way to write a novel.

    I did say I had a way that worked for me. And plenty of experts say that is a good way.
    I also said I tried pantsing and it was a total fail for me. If you can make it work for you then you should use what does work for you.

    I also said that I have seen mostly failure to finish by those who pants, and when they do finish the product is rarely as good as one that was planned.
    For sure even if they wrote the great American novel they would have spent more time getting it done.

    I will admit that they may have more enjoyment doing it their way and that is certainly their right to prioritise fun over efficiency if they are not making a living with their writing.
     
  23. noobienieuw

    noobienieuw Banned

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    Remember what Hemingway said.
    The first draft is always (bleep).

    Sturgeons law said that 90% of everything is crap.
     
  24. noobienieuw

    noobienieuw Banned

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    If you are afraid of doing things the easy way then do it the way you at least are not scared by.
     
  25. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Sorry, but for me it's much easier to keep everything in my noggin and maybe a page or two of notes. But I'm definitely not making a living at writing, not do I have any interest in doing that. I write what I like, when I like, and how I like, which seems to be working well for me, my publisher and my readers. I have a day job that pays the bills where I have to follow processes that are completely opposite of how I would prefer to do things, so I'm definitely not going to be doing that with my writing.
     

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