Discouraged

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Golden
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Discouraged

Post by Golden » December 19th, 2011, 10:11 am

I am currently hitting complete creativity/inspiration block hard. I don't know if it's some onset of the typical Christmas blues :( or what, but I'm blocked and lost.

I suddenly feel I don't know how to write or where to start and feel very unorganized.

I need some help. Help me to break this down? I would like wake up in the morning and have a "plan" and feel organized. Although I know "how to" books are likely a waste of money, I kind of wonder if something like that might help me? (I really need a plan to set some goals and baby steps; I suddenly don't know what I'm doing). Any one think the book "Write your novel in 90 days" or "Writer with a day job" (not sure that is the correct title) might be worthy? I need some structure and a plan because right now there is a whole lot of staring at my feet while my mind is in panic-mode and stunting the creativity even more.

Long question short: If you woke up tommmorow, only knowing little about writing, having no plan/goals/thoughts/clue as to how to outline or plot, etc, what would you do to organize yourself and learn and write efficiently? (I'm tired of completing halfway projects and then finding myself in a severe drought, something has to change).

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dios4vida
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Re: Discouraged

Post by dios4vida » December 19th, 2011, 10:36 am

Well, I've not read any of the books you mentioned, but I've run across the dry spell, "I'll-never-write-again" times. They totally suck, and my sympathies. Here's what I do:

1. Give yourself time off. If you feel like the well of creativity has run dry, don't torture yourself by trying to force something. A lot of times that can be more detrimental than anything. Do something else, fun/brainless/productive/otherwise creative. Let your brain recharge, take in lots of new sights/sounds/stories and let them stew in your subconscious.

2. Play around with some ideas, if you have them. Do the "what if" game, write out some character voice sheets (10 minutes of first person, stream-of-consciousness talking from your character), map out the world, or some other productive and/or fun way for you to tinker with a story. No pressure. Don't say you must have an outline or anything like that. Just play and get passionate about the story. Passion is the key to writing, in my opinion. If you aren't passionate about not just writing, but this story, this character, then writing is a torturous chore. (Of course, being passionate about it doesn't take the chore aspect away, it just makes it a labor of love.)

3. If you're feeling like you just need some professional advice or tips/tricks to actually finish a story, then go for the craft books. They aren't a waste of time or money. They're amazing. I would recommend James Scott Bell's The Art of War for Writers or Donald Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel. Bell's is my favorite, because it's written in extremely short chapters that you can read in a few minutes. It has advice on how to live, work, and write like a professional writer. Something like that could be just the inspiration and give you the perfect tools to finish the job.

4. Experiment! Everyone writes a little differently. Some people (*cough cough Margo*) are crazy planners who outline and plot out everything. Others are complete seat-of-the-pants, I have no clue where this is going writers. Most of us fall in between. I used to be a hardcore pantser, but when I wanted to deepen my character development and write a little faster, I got some advice and started plotting a little more beforehand. There's no hard and fast rule of "you must write like this or that" so you have to find what works for you. Try doing a full outline. Too much? Try just hitting the highlights of the story. Try color-coding things, or using post-its or pictures cut from magazines. Just start writing. Try something you might not think works for you. Even if it doesn't work, you'll have learned something about yourself and (hopefully) your story. And who knows, you might be surprised at what actually does work! (I was!)

Most of all: relax!! Writing is damn hard work (thanks to Nathaniel Hawthorne, I think, for that quote) but it's worth it - if you enjoy it and have fun.

Good luck!
Brenda :)

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

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polymath
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Re: Discouraged

Post by polymath » December 19th, 2011, 10:56 am

For me the great block unblocker is satisfactorily answering why I'm blocked in the first place. I thought for a long time I was immune to writer's block. I willfully refused to acknowledge its eixstence. But then I wrote to be writing. Not much of a plan, nor a clear direction to write toward, put word count on the page and try to somewhat wrap it up near a length stipulation.

The unblock global answer came down to appreciating my subconscious was nudging me with intuitive hunches I was off the mark and needed fresh insight to bracket the target, to decipher my subconscious hunches.

I found some answers in how-to writing books. After one, though, they soon started to blur together. Poetics texts, at first I was resistant to them because of the sour taste I got from how-tos. Once I realized they each individually cover one specific topic area through an examination of the topic's manifold influences across an arc of creative writing principles, I became engrossed. Unfortunately, they all go on at great length, oftentimes digressively, to meet minimum length expectations, but each one I've studied has one or two nuggets of beneficial insights into particular writing topic areas.
Spread the love of written word.

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poptart
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Re: Discouraged

Post by poptart » December 19th, 2011, 3:12 pm

Golden, I've been there many times. It's tempting to think someone, somewhere has the solution if you can only find it. The truth is you already have the answers, but it sounds like your creative unconscious is weary and needs a rest. Go with it.

The best inspiration is to READ. All you need to learn about writing is contained in the millions of books already on the shelves. Take a holiday from writing and binge on reading instead. I'm sure you'll find it charges your batteries in no time.
Annoying people since nineteen fifty-seven.

I blog here: http://flyingtart.blogspot.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/sandr_patterson

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Mira
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Re: Discouraged

Post by Mira » December 19th, 2011, 5:28 pm

I like what people said here. Especially about resting. It sounds like you're pushing yourself alittle hard, and I've found that creativity tends to push back if we try to force it.

I've recommended this book a million times, and I'm sure I'll recommend it again (apologies to those who've heard me recommend it), but rather than a craft book, I'd read this book about how to let your writing tap the creative well. It's called "If you want to write" by Brenda Ueland. Here's the link. If you have Kindle, you can get it for four bucks:

http://www.amazon.com/If-You-Want-Write ... 13-7229600

Relax! I suspect writer's block is a form of performance anxiety. We tend to want to gear up and 'attack it'. But I think the best antidote can be to get playful and relax with your writing.

chocofudges
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Re: Discouraged

Post by chocofudges » January 3rd, 2012, 8:08 pm

I would definitely take some time off. Relax a bit, watch a few movies, read a few books. Do anything but think about your book because you're trying to clear your head.
When you go back to write, make an outline of what you want to do in your chapter. It can be specific or general depending on your taste. You could also write a list of what you're trying to accomplish. Do you want to devote some of the text to developing a certain character? Progressing the plot? Stuff like that.
Once you get the hang of it again, you can go full speed ahead without doing these steps.

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Re: Discouraged

Post by writersink » January 15th, 2012, 5:24 am

I'm currently in the my writing sucks stage. I am not writing at the moment- me and writing are on a break. More likely than not it is a temporary fight in our relationship. We obviously need to give it some time and come back in a few weeks. Then we'll see if we still want the same things. =)

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oldhousejunkie
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Re: Discouraged

Post by oldhousejunkie » January 19th, 2012, 3:49 pm

I think it's perfectly OK to put aside your writing for awhile. I've put mine aside (for the most part) since I changed jobs this past fall. I've had brief flashes of inspiration or I've worked on editing, but I have written very little new material. I have had some personal matters to attend to and now that I'm starting to work those out, I'm feeling the stirrings of inspiration once more.

I used to freak out about not writing, just like you. But you know what helped? I took a break from these and other forums. I love the folks here (not so much in other places), but there are some die hard, butt kicking authors here and to be honest, it can be intimidating when they talk about how much they are writing. It makes you feel inadequate (although that is not their intention). Once I decided to take a break, my guilt started going away.

So I've been gone for a few months now and am just getting back into the whole forums thing. I'm still not writing, but I've made my peace with that. I have chosen to query my finished novel again and if I can't get an agent, then I'll try for an indie publisher. If that doesn't work and depending on any feedback I get, I may try self-publishing. I will then have closure on that particular novel and I can feel truly free to work on the next without any lingering issues hanging over my head. I know that violates the whole "never stop writing even when you are querying" rule, but I don't care. It's how I roll.

Hang in there, go easy on yourself, and you'll come out of it. :-)

Rachel Ventura
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Re: Discouraged

Post by Rachel Ventura » January 20th, 2012, 2:49 am

Brenda Ueland's book is time-honored sound advice. It was published in the 1930s or something, decades before e-books or audiobooks or all these fancy whatchamacallits came about. Also have a look at Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott; Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, and perhaps the go-to tome for overcoming creative struggles, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. On Writing by Stephen King is a good one too; I mean, it's Stephen King, and he's had a pretty good run of publishing success, wouldn't you say? ;)

I don't go out much so I don't have a chance to go to the library. I live in a high-crime area and don't have a car, so walking there is a definite no-go because the 'rents can't afford to have me on the ins. policy for the family chuck wagon yet, which means I have to keep my reading list as just a list for right now. But one of the things I've found very insightful is reading about some of the science behind creativity -- I know, it sounds cold and in fact quite the oxymoron, but I guess the inner geek (the antithesis of a creative muse, I would think) has latched onto an interest in this whole thing. Magical mechanics is how I think of it. Recommendations include The Midnight Disease, by Alice Flaherty, M.D., a neuroscientist at Mass. General Hospital who herself had a mental breakdown following the miscarriage of both her twins. :cry: She is also a diagnosed manic-depressive who, during her manic stages, encounters "fits" of hypergraphia, or the compulsion to write. (Sort of a Nanowrimo syndrome, only it's almost more like Nanowriminute.) She wrote the book in a relatively short amount of time -- I don't know exactly how short -- and from it developed a program at Mass. General using an experimental but non-invasive treatment for clinical depression and schizophrenia to aid in the treatment of creative blocks (which are often brought about by mental fatigues or emotional illnesses).

I myself don't doubt that I have a veritable rat's nest of emotional/mental knots to untangle that's causing my blockages right now, what with the abuse in my family and being bullied all throughout school and witnessing a lot of the things that I've seen. So I've been looking into a lot of these books about the correlation between creativity and mental illness/emotional traumas and even reading some online stuff about it. Also on my list are Touched By Fire by Kay Redfield Jamison and The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron. I need to get back to reading more (and maybe find a decent doc of my own) before I can really go full-swing into writing again. (And maybe find a way to disconnect from the damn internet.) :lol:

But I second (third? Fourth?) the notion to just take a break for a little while and return when you're ready. I always feel "mocked" by days going by and my not having written anything worthwhile, in fact not anything at all besides my various diatribes online. For me personally, I think I'm one of those who can't restrict myself to just one creative outlet; practically anything you do can become an "art" form in its own right, so if you like gardening or painting or cooking or some other activity, do that, and give the muse a little breather. Remember what the man from Chicago said? No, not the president, I mean Peter Cetera.

"Everybody needs a little time away, a holiday, from each other."

Even your muse needs a little vay-kay, far away, from the work that you both love... ;)

Gypson
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Re: Discouraged

Post by Gypson » January 23rd, 2012, 6:55 pm

Sometimes taking a break from writing is both healthy and necessary.

I hit a dead end in high school where I was tired of writing the same draft over and over. I felt that my writing wasn't improving to the standard I wished for, yet I didn't know how to get there. It was the quintessential teenage conflict of hating one's own immaturity but not knowing how to conquer it.

I took a break from writing for two years.

I wrote another draft, from the same roots but completely different. I reveled in the experience, but hit dead ends while editing.

I took another break for a year and a half.

And have written several drafts since then.

During those breaks, I grew up. I went to and graduated from college, I dated, I broke someone's heart, I lived abroad, I worked in customer service (blrrrg), I moved out of my childhood home, I experienced loss, I fell in love, I felt my focus shift away from my self and toward things larger than my self. In short, I lived life and began to grow up--and still have a lot to do. And that was the maturity I needed.

Life experiences compound upon each other and contribute to your writing, whether it's in the act of writing or in the mindset you approach it with. Don't feel ashamed about taking a break to move on or mull things over. It's important to come up for air every now and again.

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