Does anyone ever lose that spark?

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Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Postby heyimkt » 10 Nov 2010, 22:49

When I get that first idea, or spark, of a story...I'm in love. Who isn't? But lately, I've been continuing with this story and I'm just not feeling it. I still love the idea, but I don't know if I can really write it. I'm pushing through and I'm not hating it, I'm just frustrated I don't feel that same spark I had at the beginning or for other WIPs.

It's also happening with an older WIP, where I love the idea and characters, but I can't seem to write it right. Thus, losing the spark.

This happen to anyone? What happens when you fall out of love with your story? Do you push through and gain that spark back?
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Postby Jenemb » 11 Nov 2010, 03:12

Constantly!

It's why I have a filing cabinet full of half-started pieces. But I find, when I leave them a while and then go back to them, that it will suddenly come to me: I can make this work if I just change x. And then I get a new rush of enthusiasm that usually carries me through.

I have problems with perspective. I'm so wrapped up in a thing that I can't see it objectively. That's why it needs to go away for a while.

Good luck!
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Postby sierramcconnell » 11 Nov 2010, 12:14

You know, I often wonder what those people were thinking when they said, "We want that rock in your back yard."

"I'm sorry, what?"

"That big enormous rock would look great in our back yard. You're not using it, are you?"

And so, they proceeded to move that big enormous rock, that had always been sort of an antfarm\grass killer to me, into their yard. I watched them push that rock. Pull that rock. Yank the hell out of that rock. But eventually, they got that rock where it belongs. In their yard.

You're probably wondering where my point is.

Your story is that rock, and you are those people. You saw that rock, you loved that rock. You wanted that rock to go in your yard. Part of the way through the process, don't you think those people probably thought they were complete and total idiots to imagine they could move a couple hundred pounds of rock all the way to their yard? Maybe the rock isn't as grand as they thought. Maybe it would be better just half pushed here. Maybe they should just LEAVE THE ROCK.

But then they looked again. They could see that rock in their yard. With those flowers around it. With their kids playing on it.

God...THEY WANT THAT ROCK!

So really, in all that, my point is this:

You need to remember why you started pushing that rock in the first place.

It's not going to be easy to push that rock, but you will get it there if you focus on what it will look like, and not what it looks like now.

(And yes, I've been there. It's when I need eight hours of channel surfing\antique shopping\ice cream binging to recharge. It'll be okay.)
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Postby Moni12 » 11 Nov 2010, 12:48

It happens to me a lot and causes me to constantly abandon projects. With my finished manuscript I forced myself to write even when I thought what I was saying was stupid. About halfway through I read what I had for the first time and really enjoyed it. Now that I have it complete and polished I really like what I wrote. I just had to keep reminding myself why I first liked the idea. It's definitely hard though, and I'm worried the same thing is going to happen now that I'm working on the same project at the same time. I normally try to avoid that because I tend to abandon one project for the other, but right now I'm passionate about both. Guess I'll see how it goes.
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Postby polymath » 11 Nov 2010, 13:20

My sparks of inspiration fade for several reasons. Off the top, a hunch is nagging at me from my subconscious telling me something's off. A scene isn't doing what I intend it to do. I've lapsed into tell to rush through a scene and it ought best be in show. I'm missing plot benchmarks like introduction, crisis, rising or falling action, climax, denouement scenes, or their magnitude is too high or too low for their placement. I'm going on at length reaching for an unrealized circumstance. Or other factors like lapses in voice, causation, tension, antagonism, consistency, thematic unity, and plot movement are shy of the mark or untimely overshoot the mark. I get back on track and reignite the spark by figuring out what's off.
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Postby Guardian » 11 Nov 2010, 13:27

Yes. i.e. I lost the "spark" in my favorite WIP few month ago so I switched to my other project. Now I lost the spark in that one so I reverted back to the first one as in the meantime I got that spark back!

Sometimes you just need to take a short break to see the full picture again and get the spark back. Sometimes it takes a day, sometimes few month. This is the reason why I have more WIPs parallel with each other. At least I can work on one while I put the other one on hold.
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Postby Louise Curtis » 11 Nov 2010, 15:03

Losing the spark is part of the process. I generally push through. Also, you can liven things up by introducing a new character, killing someone close to your hero (especially if they're a source of strength), giving them a new subplot to work towards, giving them awful bad luck, or even just making the weather change.
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Postby heyimkt » 11 Nov 2010, 18:42

Great comments, guys! Thanks so much; I'm not alone in this!

sierramcconnell, LOVE the rocky theory. Makes sense.

I think I'm going to keep trying with this (and the other) for a little longer, and I hope I'll be able to gain that spark back and *burn* through the first draft! Oh, puns. Thanks again, guys, and good luck with your spark-less MS's :)
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Postby ocelott » 12 Nov 2010, 08:29

A few years ago, Neil Gaiman gave a pep talk for NaNoWriMo authors that I love because he talks about this very phenomenon. You can find it over here, but I'll quote the important part:

The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I could abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm---or even arguing with me---she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, "Oh, you're at that part of the book, are you?"

I was shocked. "You mean I've done this before?"

"You don't remember?"

"Not really."

"Oh yes," she said. "You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients."

I didn't even get to feel unique in my despair.

So I put down the phone and drove down to the coffee house in which I was writing the book, filled my pen and carried on writing.

One word after another.
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Postby sierramcconnell » 12 Nov 2010, 08:44

I LOVE THAT PEP TALK.

I have it linked in my favorites and I look at it, think about it every time I get down about writing. It helps frequently unless I've really hit bottom.

I can quote it sometimes. XD

He's my hero. :3
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Postby J. T. SHEA » 13 Nov 2010, 00:10

I've commented before about Ian Fleming's secretary, who would take and hide each page as Fleming typed it, to stop him destroying it immediately. Without that lady there would be no James Bond!

Re-enchantment is what I call the renewal of faith and hope in an important project, writing or otherwise. I need it like air and water. Sometimes to continue my WIP. Sometimes to just get out of bed!
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Postby Fenris » 13 Nov 2010, 15:44

I do lose the spark occasionally, but sometimes it's less of a 'loss' than a simple 'dwindling.' Let me explain.

A trend I've noticed for nearly all of the stories I start is that I rarely make it past page thirty. By that time, I've gotten far enough to realize something might be wrong, but I'm not yet to the point where I will feel like I've wasted my time if I do end up dropping the project. Hence, page thirty and thereabouts is my 'danger zone'--the place where I'm most likely to actually lose my spark.

However, there are countless times after page thirty where I stop, sit back, take a look at my WIP and go "Something's wrong." This leads to an uncomfortable pause, much like daters will go through when considering dumping their current significant other for someone else (at least, that's the analogy I like to use). I sit back and I think "What's missing here? This isn't going at all as I planned" and generally sound like the evil mastermind who's just been thwarted yet again. But this is not truly 'losing the spark.' This is simply a dwindling, like the guttering of a flame blown by a sudden gust of wind. That wind tends to be another shiny new idea that just popped into my head, but it can also be true fatigue with the WIP. I feel like I've failed myself and my characters, that there's no longer any hope of it turning out as I'd wanted it to.

And this is the turnaround point. Maybe it's just who I am at heart, but I absolutely cannot stand the thought of failing my friends (and to me, my characters count as such). I refuse to accept this failure, this lethargy, this unwillingness to carry my incomplete dream to fulfillment, and I press on. So I suppose in this case, I do just kind of power my way through at times. But my experience is that if the current WIP really clicks, and there's something about it you really love, it's worth completing.

If you've truly lost the spark, it's only because there was nothing left to fuel it.
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Postby dios4vida » 19 Nov 2010, 08:49

There's some great advice on this thread! You've given me enough inspiration to go stare at my outline and figure out where I'm stuck - I think it's lack of subplot that's making my novel seem so flat.

Hmm...a cup of coffee and a new subplot or two and I think I might be sparking away! :)
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Postby polymath » 19 Nov 2010, 09:03

dios4vida wrote:There's some great advice on this thread! You've given me enough inspiration to go stare at my outline and figure out where I'm stuck - I think it's lack of subplot that's making my novel seem so flat.

Hmm...a cup of coffee and a new subplot or two and I think I might be sparking away! :)

I'm curious, dios4vida, what does "subplot" mean to you?

I've got a privated sense of what a subplot is, what one's purpose is, how to go about one. My primary interest is gathering other perspectives on what subplot is. I've surely run into many a gamut of parts and parcels of what plot means. Although I know plot as a structural shape, the aesthetics of complication, character, setting, event, and idea, at least, contribute to a broader picture of what plot means.
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Re: Does anyone ever lose that spark?

Postby cheekychook » 19 Nov 2010, 09:07

polymath wrote:
dios4vida wrote:There's some great advice on this thread! You've given me enough inspiration to go stare at my outline and figure out where I'm stuck - I think it's lack of subplot that's making my novel seem so flat.

Hmm...a cup of coffee and a new subplot or two and I think I might be sparking away! :)

I'm curious, dios4vida, what does "subplot" mean to you?

I've got a privated sense of what a subplot is, what one's purpose is, how to go about one. My primary interest is gathering other perspectives on what subplot is. I've surely run into many a gamut of parts and parcels of what plot means. Although I know plot as a structural shape, the aesthetics of complication, character, setting, event, and idea, at least, contribute to a broader picture of what plot means.


Polymath---I think the question of what a subplot is would make a good discussion on its own---you should start a new thread for it.
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