It's been forever since I've been on here, but I'm needing my literary peeps to hook me up with some much needed advice.
One run-on sentence about me: I'm a biblioholic --I formerly considered myself a bibliophile, but I'm out of denial now; it goes way beyond that level of addiction. ;p
Anywho, I wake up writing in my head, go to sleep writing in my head (unless I fall asleep reading, lol)... but I've been SO BLOCKED when it comes to FINISHING any of my novels.
And I'm talking finishing the stories, here, not just polishing them.
I write the first 120 pages like it's water flowing from a tap, then get distracted by my day job (SAHM to 3 adorable little tornado boys ), and it's MURDER to get myself back into the flow again.
I think it's partly because I'm totally freaked about what would happen if I ACTUALLY PUBLISHED and went from a writer to an author (I write fun stuff, not Ayn Rand stuff, and come from a HUGE family of literary snobs). And I know if I finished, I'd polish, and then I'd publish (even if I had to ***shudder*** self publish, lol).
But even though I have the stuff in my head, I just can't bring myself to write it.
I know that if I can READ 25-50 books a week, it's NOT a matter of being able to make time (I'm currently laid out like a veal awating spinal surgery, so it's not like I'm going anywhere, I have time for ALL manner of frustratingly sedentary activities).
That's the other thing: I find myself more attracted to the literary morphine dripping freely from my kindle than the fun and wonderful worlds I lose myself in creating.
Also, (and you may have picked up on this somewhat ;p) my inner writer is totally ADD: I'll get 120 pages in and then start working on something else! Am I a commitment phobe?
Also, after those first 120 pages, I kind of know what's going to happen (the stories just invent themselves as they flow from my fingers up to that point, and it's almost as much of a suprise to me where they go as to anyone else who might read it), and I get a little bored because it's not as stimulating anymore.
Another issue is that after pg. 120-ish, I have to start 'crafting' the plot more. I TRY to tell myself not to put so much pressure on myself to make it all pretty the first time; I LOVE editing, so I know I can make it pretty later, I just need to get it down on paper ('er, or on laptop...)... but I apparently don't believe me. Perfectionism is LAME.
Anyone have any good advise for blasting through my block? I've got like half a dozen projects at various stages of not-really-done-ness, a few hovering around 120 pages, and I REALLY WANT TO FINISH SOMETHING!
I feel like if I can break through this MEH state and finally go the distance, it won't be so hard to finish all the rest.
Thanks in advance, y'all! And happy Tuesday!
Posts: 32 | Registered: Dec 2007
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I used to have the same problem. I think all beginning writers have it at some point (by the way, I self-publish) and we all develop different paths. Any advice that you get is merely someone's opinion. My method may, or may not, work for you.
Try telling the story to yourself. before you write a word, sit down in a chair and think it out in a rough summary. I'm not talking about a plot outline. I mean a true summary. The kind of answer you would give someone who asked you, "what's it about?".
EVERY story is about something happening to somebody, and what resulted from it. EVERY story. Even if the 'somebody' in the story happens to be green with spines and tentacles, or a demon haunted puppet. It's still about something happening to somebody (which also includes actions they take), and what resulted.
Example: When Ralph woke up and went out to get the paper, he tripped over a drunk leprechaun.
So far, so good. Now what? Journalists ask who, what, where, when, why, and how. Who's Ralph? Who's the leprechaun? What's the leprechaun doing there? Where are they? When is this? Today? Future? Past? Sideways in another time line? Why did the leprechaun get drunk, and why did he pick Ralph's lawn to pass out? Finally, how is Ralph going to deal with it?
There will be consequences to both Ralph and the little guy from the initial foot impact. So sit down and tell yourself the story. Leprechaun provides Ralph with some motive to go on a hero's journey maybe. Ralph leaves home and meets a lovely girl, who stabs him in his sleep and steals his sword because she wants to kill the magic goat and take its golden horns for herself. Ralph manages to patch himself up and goes after her, finally catching up just as she is about to be raped and murdered by a pack of rampaging tax collectors. He tears loose his bandage and the tax collectors, smelling blood, drop the girl and come after him. Ralph manages to escape them by diving into a river and luring them into swimming after him. Then he leads them over a giant waterfall where they are killed. Ralph escapes by grabbing a rock and climbing on top of it. The girl comes to see what's happening, and to get her sword back. She sees Ralph and is overcome with remorse. Throwing him a rope, she pulls him to shore and throws her arms around him for a kiss. Ralph breaks her neck, takes her sword, and goes to get the goat's magic golden horns. He returns home rich and powerful, spending the rest of his days corrupting innocent maidens and cheating on his taxes.
That kind of slapped together gobbledegook is not a story, by any means. But once you have a starting point and an ending point, you can fill in the rest. It's like making sausage. You have the ingredients, and you know what the end result will be. It's the in-between part that gets messy and fun.
Anyway, that's how I do it. Other people use different methods. Main thing, keep writing and don't ever let anyone stop you.
Posts: 884 | Registered: Feb 2012
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quote: ...once you have a starting point and an ending point, you can fill in the rest. It's like making sausage. You have the ingredients, and you know what the end result will be. It's the in-between part that gets messy and fun.
That's kinda where I'm at. I have the first 120 pages. I have how it ends. I even KNOW what I want to happen in the middle. I just don't type it.
It's that 'messy' part that's tripping me up. Maybe I'm afraid I won't be able to fix the mess in to something coherent, but I know I can. Hmmm.
This is what happens when Psych majors write. Self-analysis that may or may not be helpful.
quote:Main thing, keep writing and don't ever let anyone stop you.
I think that's my problem. I let me stop me. I let what I IMAGINE will be the snooty criticism of my family gag my little fingers.
Remember, you do not live in the age of the typewriter. With word processors and terrabyte drives, you can save hundreds of versions and rewrite endlessly. No change is irreversible.
As far as snooty criticism, if it's so easy, why don't they try it? If they are published authors themselves, I might listen to their advice. If they are not professional writers, they don't know any more, and most likely know less, then you do.
And if it still bothers you, lie about who wrote it. That's what pen names were invented for.
Posts: 884 | Registered: Feb 2012
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1--write the ending, since you know what it is, and don't worry about how you get to it
2--add some more ideas to what you've written
3--rcmann's suggestion about asking yourself questions is huge--two especially good questions (recommended by OSC himself) are
a--what does the character try next?
b--what could go wrong with that attempt?
4--you can also try just telling (out loud, in your own voice) what happens--record it (use dictation software) and let your computer or smartphone or whatever transcribe it for you--it may be easier for you to say what happens than it is for you to write what happens--and once you've got it transcribed, then you can tweak/edit it
Posts: 8541 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!
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quote: And if it still bothers you, lie about who wrote it. That's what pen names were invented for.
LOL- MANY'S the time I've seriously considered that! (But I'm WAY too egotistical; if I do all that work, I want the recognition, lol.) Thanks for the input, I'm feeling my saucy-fight-ness starting to win again.
Kathleen: THANK YOU! I do love your suggestions! Especially the two OCS questions- might be fun to toss in the mix when I start getting bottled up again.
If any of you wouldn't mind I'd LOVE your feedback on my first 13 of one of the books I've been working on, "Dramady in PT" (working title)over in the book frags section. It's the one with the most steam behind it right now. I'm 40,127 words into it. Gotta get 'er DUN!
Also, do you find that when you've worked and re-worked your writing it takes the 'shine' off of it? Because I love editing, and rewriting (especially when it's painful and bloody, lol) is really satisfying when I see what I've made it into, but I guess the 'newness' has worn off by then or something and I never find it quite as funny or striking after... Is that normal? It seems logical: work a piece enough and naturally the newness is gone... ? Thank you all for your advice and mentorship! Posts: 32 | Registered: Dec 2007
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Your writing voice has a lively attitude. Reminds me of Keith Laumer's Retief and Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat. Both characters are overbearingly self-involved, yet amusing for their sarcasm and irony. On first glance, both action adventure comedy farce series conform to science fiction conventions and formulaic plotting. A closer look exposes their parody, satire, and self-aware commentary.
I studied them for how their writers manage not to hit a wall midway, from telegraphing endings and leaving little doubt what will take place after midway, from the voice growing weary, from their formulaic construction. Lo and behold, the sarcasm and irony stepped down for a while, when the central characters were in greatest jeopardy, about midway, thus making greatest efforts and outcomes being most in doubt, Once the day is saved, the irony and sarcasm come back in greater force than before. The voice changes parallel the unfolding dramatic action.
One possibile way to overcome mid saga doubts I take from those examples, vary the voice along with the varying dramatic action. Plan a dramatic action formula to begin with. For example, one measure of word count for the beginning act, introductions, two measures for the middle act, rising and falling action, respectively, and one measure for the final act, outcomes. Or one part measure in twelve per each major scene (chapter), each bridged by a turn, a minor or major turn, respectively, each a discovery and reversal directly related to a main and tangible dramatic complication. Or one dramatic action: in the case of comedy, from bad circumstances to good; or for tragedy, from good circumstances to bad or bad to worse. Retief and Jimmy "Stainless Steel Rat" DiGriz sagas are both comedies in that sense.
One other feature of both comedy sagas, albeit formulaic, is posing a tragic crisis that implies all is lost soon after the midway point. This raises doubt about the outcome and pulls readers forward.
Frankly, if I feel I've hit a wall, I think readers will too. To get over a wall, I plan for surprises to come up in scenes. Surprise discoveries and reversals.
Posts: 5162 | Registered: Jun 2008
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I've found outlines make it feel like I've already told the story and it's difficult to write it all out complete once I've told it...other than what's been said about working out the ending first, then writing backwards, that's about it.
(My escapades with writer's block tend to be not being able to think of anything to write at all...I have several ways to trick myself out of that, though.)
Posts: 8728 | Registered: Aug 2005
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I remember hearing about one writer who dealt with the "writing the outline feels as if I've written the story" problem by rewriting the outline, but in more detail, and then rewriting that, and so on, until the whole story is there.
Sort of sneaking up on the creative process by going around it, since rewriting isn't quite the same thing as writing in the first place.
Here's a trick that helped me through a story once.
Don't write the story. Have someone else do it.
Just let him use your fingers.
What I did was tell myself that I wasn't writing the story, but some other person (who I pretended to be) was the actual writer. Someone who wasn't terribly good, but decent, and had no pride or worries about what he put down. Someone who would finish the story even if it was bad.
So create another character, a writer who writes stuff like you do. Call him something, like Andrew Rey (the guy's a hack, so he wouldn't care if you do ). Say he's finishing the novel for you. Since it isn't his novel, he doesn't care if it doesn't come out perfect; he gets paid regardless.
For me, it was enough to get me over that hump. And after that, I incorporated that ghost Ghost Writer into my own persona so that I worried less.
It worked once for me. Maybe it'll help you.
Posts: 180 | Registered: Jan 2003
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