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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Overwhelmed by my return to writing

   
Author Topic: Overwhelmed by my return to writing
mayflower988
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Hi, everyone! It's been a long time, but I am writing again, and I think that's what matters. I have a problem, though. I had been working on a book before I went to seminary (grad school), and now that the semester's over, it's hard for me to come back to it. I keep thinking of too many possibilities for the plot. Now I'm overwhelmed by all the possibilities my brain has come up with for the story, both the old ones and the recent ones. Have you ever had that problem? How do you come back to a story after a long hiatus? How do you decide which variation of the story to write?
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enigmaticuser
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I start by rereading what I've written to try and remember where I felt back then the plot was going, if at some point it veers away from that line . . . let it.

I can't say I've ever thought I had too many possibilities for one story. Perhaps too many vague inclinations, in which case I let a story rest until its gathered enough critical mass to pull in the true story. When that happens I may feel there are multiple possibilities but I usually end up thinking there are really only two kinds of possibilities. Where I want the story to go and where the story wants to go.

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Grumpy old guy
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What I'd suggest is that you outline your story again with all the 'new' ideas interwoven through it. Play that 'story' through your mind like a movie and then go back and read your 'original'.

Then play twenty questions; Which is better and why? And so on. At best you will have a stronger and better story. At worst, you'll feel more confident with what you've now got.

Phil.

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mayflower988
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Thanks! I liked what you said about the two possibilities. It's hard for me to figure out what is the one that I want and then the one that the story wants. I'm a very new writer; this is the first time I've ever tried writing a full-length book. I just came up with an outline that I think might work. I'm going to see what they think over at the critique board.
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extrinsic
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I file notes along with each project in progress. A file directory for each project contains the versions and the notes file. The top tier directory is Writ. Below that is Fiction, Nonfiction, Essay, and Journalism. Then in each is a folder for each project. The notes files contain research results and sources, sketches, and plans, including reworking strategies. This way I can come back to a project at anytime. I might just add a few lines to the notes file one week. Next month I might come back to implement changes to the plan. Or I might add a few thousand words to an ongoing project or start drafting a new one.

Not surprisingly, well, maybe, I wrote several dozen short pieces, a few longer ones, and a couple long works raw drafts this past year. The running word count for my year amounts to nearly a million words. And all the while working full time, working two part-time jobs, and attending graduate school full time.

I have a structure and a process that facilitates an ongoing development of any given project. Record the inspiration. Develop the inspiration. Plan the writing. Draft to the plan. Rework to the plan. Last pass, figure out what a project is really about, what its best practice voice and organization are. Then rework again.

[ January 01, 2013, 11:14 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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MattLeo
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Extrinsic brings up an interesting point, which is having something other than your brain to retain your ideas.

Having too many ideas only stops you if you're afraid you're going to lose them, so maybe what you need to do is have something like a scrapbook where you can keep them for when you'll be able to use them.

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mayflower988
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That's a good idea. I've tried something similar, not quite as detailed as Extrinsic's method, but it usually ends up with a bunch of random files on my computer full of a wide variety of ideas on each piece throughout the writing process. It's a bit overwhelming for me. (I have ADD, and I am easily overwhelmed by ideas and info.) I hate having a really long document. Maybe that's why writing a book is so hard for me. :)
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rcmann
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I recommend documenting all of the ideas somewhere. If you don't use them in this book, you might in the next book. Or the one after that. Or the one after that. There is no such thing as having too many ideas. There is only the challenge of organizing them effectively.
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Robert Nowall
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Whenever you spend some time away from something, it seems hard to continue with it. Sometimes it's better to start from scratch...though a thorough reread might get you back in the mood to continue with it.
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Jeff Ambrose
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This is your first book of many, many books, right? Don't take it so seriously. Don't worry about which direction is the "right" direction. There is no "right" direction. There's just the one you choose for this novel. Write the best novel you can now, then move on to the next project.

My advice: Reread what you have. Make some notes about what you promised your readers in what you've written. And when you get to the place where you stopped writing, write whatever the next sentence seems to be. Then write the next sentence. And the next. Let your creative voice tell you what to write. Think about ways to fulfill your promises, but don't set anything in stone. Just write the next sentence; let the sentences develop into scenes. And soon, you'll have a finished manuscript and will be able to move on to the next project.

Best of luck.

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mayflower988
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Jeff: I don't know if it's the first of many. That seems a little daunting. I'd be happy just to finish one book. Thanks so much for your advice. I keep thinking if I choose the wrong option for my plot, that I'll lose all chance of ever getting this book published. I like what you said about just writing the next sentence. I need to just get something out and keep writing. There's always the delete key, right? :) Reminds me of what I read in Bell's Plot and Structure: "First get it written, then get it right."

It seems that the consensus is to start recording my ideas, make notes on my WIP and keep plugging away at it. I'll try. I keep thinking about this book, even though I've started school again and worked on a short story or two. I think for me, the trick is to make sure I get some consistency in the time I spend writing. Rather than writing sporadically whenever life allows, I should try to write every week even if I can't write every day. Or schedule a longer writing session on the weekend, and maybe during the week just jot down ideas that come to me.
Ah, this book feels less intimidating than it did before.

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LDWriter2
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quote:
Originally posted by mayflower988:
Hi, everyone! It's been a long time, but I am writing again, and I think that's what matters. I have a problem, though. I had been working on a book before I went to seminary (grad school), and now that the semester's over, it's hard for me to come back to it. I keep thinking of too many possibilities for the plot. Now I'm overwhelmed by all the possibilities my brain has come up with for the story, both the old ones and the recent ones. Have you ever had that problem? How do you come back to a story after a long hiatus? How do you decide which variation of the story to write?

Took me a while to get back to this post. But I say Yea! Go, Go, Go.

As you probably know by now that "all the possibilities" fever is not unusual. As is the problem with starting it again. But once you get going it will be easier...or it is for me.

But Good For You.

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