Whaddya think? I've read so many professional writers who say, write anyway, but, as someone who's not reached anywhere near my preliminary one-million written words yet, when I'm tired I just KNOW my stuff is going to be just about a waste of time.
It ig onlyg whin Herbertt had reached the door that monkeys--bleggestorm habsterbam. Not QUITE that bad but might as well be. Sure, maybe I'm an extreme case, but there isn't much that can be done with my stuff when my middle-aged brain is experiencing fatigue.
As a corollary to this, it used to be that I was PARTICULARLY inspired by ideas very, very late at night. "Wow, there's THIS idea. Oh, and THAT one! Geez!" But now I am finding I'm more productive when I'm fresh and wide-awake in the morning. (Warning: personal anecdote follows.) Yesterday I wrote productively for awhile and then had to do some real-life work. And then when I was doing real-life work I had some amazing ideas for writing. Later, that night, I TRIED to utilize these ideas but the going was rough because I was all worn out and not so inspired, by then. (I WAS able to get a tiny bit out, but not much.) So, after awhile, I switched to reading, instead. (The screenplay for Slumdog Millionaire.) Then, this morning, I woke up with this just incredibly brilliant idea for writing! Conclusion? Write it NOW when I'm fresh.
Or not at all blegistorm pleshimann haggistrictingly
[This message has been edited by WraithOfBlake (edited April 08, 2010).]
I find that if I'm tired, it's almost useless to try and write unless it's a small bit and I know what's supposed to happen. Better to make a few notes and write it when I'm more awake.
Uninspired is another problem and something I'm dealing with right now. Other than forcing myself to put the time in I'm not sure what else to do. Usually once I get going it flows okay. I just have to get things started. But my life has been busy lately and I've been running tired a lot. I'm starting to calm it down. Maybe with better rest will come more focus and inspiration.
As far as ideas at bizarre times, I have lots of little slips of paper with ideas that I transfer to the computer later. I also have a notebook for new story ideas and one for my novel; usually kept near my bed. Then there's the dry erase board in the bathroom, which unfortunately doesn't work well after a shower - moisture and all. And of course, the voice recorder on my cell phone. Whether I have time to work out an idea or not, I never let it go thinking that I will remember it later. Chances are, I won't.
I have discovered that editing when fatigued is a seriously bad idea.
Writing from scratch when fatigued yields 75% incomprehensible (even to me) garbage, so I don't often do that.
Now...performing second draft rewrites when I'm fatigued has produced some bizarre results, many of which I confess I would have never thought of with an alert and well rested mind. There's one recent example that I'm particularly proud of, but it is apart of my next WotF entry, so I'll keep it to myself for now.
On the rare occasions I feel too uninspired to work on one of my WIP stories, I sit down at the PC (or grab a notepad, or my digital audio recorder) and create something new. It almost always starts out slowly, but, once I get started, I come up with some fairly inspired stuff. As far as I'm concerned, that's my love of writing and creating taking over.
When I'm tired I go right to bed and don't even try so that hopefully the next day I will be better rested and can write.
Uninspired is different though. For me this is usually more of a getting started problem and once I get going I do better.
Sometimes though I have to lay down on the bed and stare at the cieling and think about what to write. Something usually comes to mind.
Sometimes doing some critiquing of other peoples work or my own helps because it gets my mind in the writing mode and all of sudden I'm full of ideas. If all else fails I read, either short stories or novels or something on the web that's writing related.
Sometimes breaking things down into bite size portions helps. I tell myself I'm just going to read my story. As soon as I start reading it I see things I missed and it gets my mind churning and ideas start coming and I can write the next part. Or I might tell myself I only have to write three lines. Then three more lines doesn't seem so bad and pretty soon I get a good idea and erase my last six lines and start over with something good.
1) have idea but no story; 2) Not really interested in the idea 3) Interested in the idea but not in the mood to develop it. 4) Started writing and already know it started wrong, but am too chicken to start over so I just stare at the screen for an hour. 5) have other pressing life issues taking over my mind 6) feel like it's all worthless and since I'm never gonna write a good story anyway why bother to waste all that time? Go become an engineer or something, you hack! (I say to myself.) 7) Low blood sugar 8) need to experience a good story or movie or tv show to recharge and inspire meself.
Probably missing a few more...but I hear ya. But what you need is an extra thrill - some competition.
It seems a certain mental fog has been clouding me for some time...seems writing got harder the older I got, the ideas got rarer (more rare?), and it was harder to put words on paper (or words on screen). There have been days where things just breezed through and I wrote nearly every day, but there have been troughs where nothing seemed to inspire me and unfinished stories remain unfinished.
(Not that that affects what I put down when I'm posting here, where it's short and to the point (most of the time), and not as wordy an effort as even a short story has to be.)
When tired, I either take a walk (and talk to myself about the story as I walk) or take a power nap and then try again. Sometimes I have to take 10 minute breaks followed by 40 minutes of work followed by a break followed by work.
When uninspired, the story is boring me. And if it's boring me it's likely to bore the readers. So I ask myself questions and try to generate solutions. What's so boring? Why? What could I do different? What if I tried to mash this cool thing in? What if I souped-up the character, gave him some past secret, some power? Do I even have a real threat here in this scene? Do I have the key things in place? What am I missing here?
I'll do this at the computer, free-writing, or I'll take a walk and talk about it. Sometimes it's a persistent bugger. Sometimes listening to another book on tape during my walk allows me to come back fresh. Sometimes I steal ideas, raid other stories. Lots of different methods. But as long as I keep at it, sooner or later I'm able to identify the problem. And once I do that, I can start looking for solutions. And eventually I find one or three that work. I've found the key is to trust the process.
Sometimes, reading a How-to-Write book can wake up your subconscious and get it thinking about how whatever you're reading can apply to what you're having trouble writing.
When that starts to happen, keep reading until you can't stand it any more (or until you realize that you are not seeing the words on the page because you're thinking too much about your story), and then get back to work on the story.
An important lesson that Elizabeth Bear repeats from time to time, and one I have still not managed to internalize properly even though I am sure she is right, is this:
It is OK for your first draft to suck.
YOu can write dull or horrible sentences all you like, because you will be going through revising them anyway, and then you can polish them up. But making progress is very important. A lot of the time, when people say they "can't write", what they mean is "my sentences aren't pretty right now". Pretty sentences are good, but they don't have to emerge full-blown every time. There is a strong case to be made that writing "crap" is still enormously better than not writing at all.
I can't agree, at least for myself, that writing crap is better than not writing at all. It doesn't have to be perfect but I have to feel good about it. If I just wrote crap for the sake of getting words on the page I would be disappointed and feel like I wasted my time.
I did NaNoWriMo last year and I learned some things. One of those things is that I don't subscribe to the 'just get words on the page' philosophy. It may work for some people but I'm not sure it's right for everyone.
Genevive, do you finish things? If you can avoid writing crap and still actually finish stories, that advice probably isn't for you. For me, I need to feel good about the general place I am going and the overall characters. The actual words, those will come later. I am also not so big at outlining, so I kind of view the first draft as the outline, not the actual story. A very, very long outline, but still an outline.
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Usually, I get hit by writer's block (or is it writers' block??) when I am stuck. No, I didn't mean that as a tautology. I mean, I get stuck on one thing in one story, and it seems to arrest all my efforts at writing anything until I fix it.
I have found a few good ways to fix it which work for me:
1) eventually, I get around to working on something else and get stuff written there. 2) Go jogging. It helps me think through scenes. 3) Talk it over with someone. I have a friend I use for my plotting questions, who helps me crystallize my otherwise nebulous thoughts. 4) Ignore it. Sometimes, letting the problem stew in my unconscious yields a good solution a few days later...
I am pretty good about finishing things. My current project is being difficult but it's still moving forward and I have no doubt that I will finish it. On the other hand, I have a short story from last year where the middle section needs a heavy structural rewrite and I've been avoiding it. I don't mind reworking and fixing but I don't like full on rewriting. It's probably that dislike that drives me to want to do a decent job the first time around.
It just goes to show that there isn't one method that works for everyone.
And I have to agree with Terean about talking to someone about it. I didn't know how to approach the next scene and just telling my boyfriend about it brought me to my answer. He's also a creative person and has good input, but this time I had my answer before I finished describing the problem.