Writing after a long break...

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craig
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Writing after a long break...

Post by craig » July 14th, 2010, 5:05 pm

Well, I'm unemployed right now. Hopefully just for a few weeks. (The unemployment was my choice -- it's a very long story.)

Anyway, with work and school, I haven't been able to work on my writing for months now. I have a novel about 80% done. But since I last worked on it, I've become quite disappointed with what I wrote. The story and its structure are good -- but there's something missing from the tone and the flow of the writing. This has happened to me before with my previous novel.

So I find myself rewriting the whole thing. Well, rewriting is overstating it -- it's a massive edit with huge rewritten sections. I'm really liking what I've done so far. I hope to finish the rewrite in a reasonable amount of time and then go on to finish the book before I get a new job. I've got tons of time now, so it's a feasible goal. Being realistic, though -- it'll probably take longer.

Anybody else run into this massive rewriting thing in your own writing?

How do you stay motivated? (For me, it's to put on music, make coffee, and sit in a different room than the TV.)

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AnimaDictio
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Re: Writing after a long break...

Post by AnimaDictio » July 14th, 2010, 5:46 pm

I took a 3 year break from writing while I attended law school. When I look back at what I wrote before, I know in my heart that none of it can ever see the light of day again. I intend to go beyond "rewriting" the former works. I'll review them for inspiration and write anew.

I look forward to jumping back into it after this bar exam in a few weeks.

Down the well
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Re: Writing after a long break...

Post by Down the well » July 14th, 2010, 6:05 pm

craig wrote:Anyway, with work and school, I haven't been able to work on my writing for months now. I have a novel about 80% done. But since I last worked on it, I've become quite disappointed with what I wrote. The story and its structure are good -- but there's something missing from the tone and the flow of the writing. This has happened to me before with my previous novel.
The good news is you are looking at your ms with fresh eyes. Having that distance is allowing you to see the things you need to change, so that's all to the good.

As far as motivation goes, I find the only thing that really works for me is telling myself that the writing is for me and my eyes only. I don't think about getting it published, I don't think about my mom reading it, I don't think about sharing it with critique partners. It's just for me. And that usually frees me to get the writing done.

Good luck. I hope you're able to make the most of your time off.

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midenianscholar
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Re: Writing after a long break...

Post by midenianscholar » July 16th, 2010, 8:59 am

I like rewriting almost more than I like writing. Rewriting makes me feel like I'm holding my ms over a fire and burning out the bad bits.

I normally put on some music and just dive in for hours at a time. I'll surface and move locations (bedroom-->Panera) and do it again. Repeat in my spare time until the job is done. I've found I have to do it in long chunks of time, because if I try to do it in little half hour spurts I tend to not get into the story as much.

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Robin
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Re: Writing after a long break...

Post by Robin » July 16th, 2010, 10:53 am

I like returning to my MS after taking a few weeks off. I feel like I'm reading with new eyes and I'm able to pick out certain sections that were bothering me and improve them.

Just crank up the music and roll with it. I have to have noise while I'm writing, most of the times its my kids. Not sure how I'm going to write when they go back to school and the house is silent.
Robin
"A glass slipper is only a shoe. Dreamers who only dream never have their dreams come true."

http://www.RobynLucas.com/

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AnimaDictio
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Re: Writing after a long break...

Post by AnimaDictio » July 16th, 2010, 11:00 am

I need silence. I need to quietly chant the words to myself as I type them.

craig
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Re: Writing after a long break...

Post by craig » July 16th, 2010, 11:26 am

I'm excited about this storyline I've got going -- but I just couldn't bring myself to continue it until I rewrite the whole thing!

My gobs of free time seem to be sucked up by other things -- now that I'm unemployed all my friends want to take me out for coffee. It's a good thing, of course, but it cuts into my writing time!

For me... I need a big travel mug full of high quality coffee (which, for me, is a fair trade organic Central American origin medium roast coffee, served black with no milk or sugar -- the travel mug keeps it hot for hours), some good music (which tends to be an internet radio station featuring chilled electronica -- that way I don't have to reach for my iPod every 45 minutes to change albums or fiddle with playlists), and I usually have to disable my internet connection.

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dios4vida
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Re: Writing after a long break...

Post by dios4vida » July 16th, 2010, 11:37 am

I've had a history of taking many sabbaticals from writing (not usually by choice, either...it's a long story). I find that after a while I just can't help but get back to the craft. I start going batty without it and my husband literally "shoo"s me into my office and tells me to write a book or something. :)

As for motivation, I like to read a really, really good book (usually R.A. Salvatore or Dennis McKiernan - or the Harry Potter series again) or watch a really, really good movie (like LOTR, Inkheart, or Harry Potter...sensing a theme?? Fantasy girl all the way, here!). When I see these amazing storylines and plots and characters and I sense myself getting excited about them, it stirs my little writer's heart so much that I just have to go back and write something as good as that! I've not made it to that level of literary perfection yet, but I'm working on it...

I usually have movies like that playing in the background, too. I've watched them so many times that I have them memorized so I don't really pay attention, but the music at certain scenes or watching the landscape draws me into Fantasy Land, which is where I need to be since I do write (shocker:) fantasy. I know most people can't do that but it works like a charm for me.

I also have my office which is covered with white boards of notes and outlines and all the little weird things that I love. I walk in here and breathe a sigh of relief because it's my sanctuary where I can just be me. :)
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Holly
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Re: Writing after a long break...

Post by Holly » July 16th, 2010, 12:00 pm

Your dissatisfaction with your old stuff and your desire to rewrite means you turned into a better writer.

I love good coffee, too (Turkish or something close), and wonderful music, and the sounds of nature, but forget all that. You have the rest of your life to drink coffee. Your goal is to finish your novel.

Several ways to stay motivated:

(1) Use a calendar and set goals. Tell yourself in so many days you will finish a chapter, and then do it.

(2) Exchange chapters through email with another writer. It's like turning in homework, plus you get feedback. This is the best way.

(3) Join an online critique group or an in-the-flesh group and get feedback on your chapters.

(4) Picture yourself with a finished novel. That's your goal. Check your word count and congratulate yourself as you go forward. Make writing time. Tell your friends you have reserved __________ for writing and would love to have coffee with them another day. Block out this writing time on your calendar.

(5) Go outside your house to write, if you have to do it. College libraries in the USA are quiet and often allow you to bring in a cup of coffee.

Good luck!

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Re: Writing after a long break...

Post by Harper Karcz » July 16th, 2010, 12:46 pm

Your writing setup sounds exactly like mine: black coffee, long playlist, wireless card turned off.

I've been a rewriter, too. It's good to be able to look at your writing with clear eyes and recognize that it really needs more than just a revision or an "edit." My only caution is not to get too attached to rewriting. The first novel I worked on after a long break away from fiction was one I wound up rewriting -- ergh -- six times. If I'd just slowed down one time between rewrites and made sure I could give a concise summary of the novel to myself, and identified the thematic heart of the book as well as the basic steps involved in the beginning, middle, and end, I wouldn't have spent so much time drafting and redrafting. The prose improved throughout rewrites, but when I came to the end of the whole exhausting process (after I found a critique group who politely told me that I had very nice sentences and characters but absolutely no story whatsoever), I realized that a solid plot backbone could have saved me about 300,000 words.

It sounds like you've got a better head about this than I did, but I wanted to throw that out there to make sure people don't get stuck in the trap I did!

I echo Holly's advice about setting goals and keeping a calendar. Make sure you have both yourself and someone else holding you accountable to finishing this project.

Best of luck!
Having just the vision's no solution
Everything depends on execution.

-- Stephen Sondheim

craig
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Re: Writing after a long break...

Post by craig » July 16th, 2010, 9:19 pm

Managed to get quite a bit done today. My WIP isn't as rough as I had thought it was -- the opening needed to be reworked, the setting needs heavy polishing whenever it's mentioned, and large chunks of dialogue need to be fixed here and there -- but other than that, I'm mostly reading through my WIP and changing a few words here and there. My WIP is currently at roughly 76,000 words, with still about another 10,000-15,000 of story left to add on once I rework/rewrite/edit the preexisting stuff. A few days ago, I had reworked the first 4,000 words, but today I managed to cover another 12,500 -- bringing me up to almost 17,000 words. I hope to get a huge chunk done tomorrow, too.

I'm finding as I read it that I'm really liking the story -- especially now that I've rewritten the parts that I didn't care for. I'm back into this full-force, I think.

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Holly
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Re: Writing after a long break...

Post by Holly » July 16th, 2010, 9:28 pm

Good for you, and good luck.

I'm revising my 85,000 word novel to add a storyline -- which changes the plot -- but instead of reading through it and making changes here and there, I'm retyping everything from scratch. I find I just want to say a lot of things in a different way. Anyway, passing this on as a revision technique.

craig
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Re: Writing after a long break...

Post by craig » July 16th, 2010, 10:38 pm

Yup, I use that technique quite a bit -- if I find a section where the changes are numerous, I just retype the whole thing -- it helps me think and get the flow going right. When I wrote my first novel I did the retype technique for the whole thing -- it takes a lot of time, but it's very effective!

Clair John
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Re: Writing after a long break...

Post by Clair John » July 17th, 2010, 4:54 am

Hi,
Writing after a long break is not an easy task, especially for me. If you are in touch with the writing the concepts will evolve around you, but once you left you mind stops working. Best of luck and I must say that this is a good step, everyone has to link with writing in order to enhance their skills. If you want some help and want to see examples of good writing, contact dissertationprovider.co.uk , as it is a big help for new writers.

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dios4vida
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Re: Writing after a long break...

Post by dios4vida » July 17th, 2010, 12:00 pm

Retyping everything is a great idea. I have a trunked novel that I'm going to rewrite (the story is good, but it was my first so it needs a whole lot of work) and that's exactly what I'm going to do - with one little twist.

I'm going to take my original ms and find the best parts - the beautiful writing, the exciting scenes - and cut those out. Everything else gets dumped, and I'm going to rewrite the story around those little snippets. It's interesting work, but it's an invaluable tool when you have something that needs major revision. I'm not sure if the story will be the same or not, but that's the beauty of rewriting.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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