07 March, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. You've probably heard of him or his blog--if not, go check it out!

My insecurity (here I go, rambling on about myself again. Um, is this getting too repetitive? --most likely) is that I cannot seem to stick to one project without disliking it.

You see, I had a blast writing my first novel; for a year and a half I happily wrote a gazillion words and while there were plenty of starts and stops, I never felt like it wasn't something I wanted to complete.

For my next novel, which I finished last October, I was happy at the beginning but just wanted it to get the stupid thing done after I'd gotten about halfway through. Tired of the world, tired of the characters, tired of the writing style I tried. For my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) novel it felt a bit like an impending train wreck a quarter of the way in, and while I did complete that novel in December, I don't want to look at it for the same reasons above.

On March 1st, I started rewrites of my first novel. I'd outlined it and listed character traits and created rough (all right, very rough) setting sketches, which is more blueprinting than I usually do. I thought that might help keep things consistent, a common problem with my other finished/unedited projects.

But . . . having written a few thousand words, that project is already as feeling dead as the last two. I'm not sure at this point if I'm going to continue; I don't know whether forging on in the hopes that an unlikely spark of inspiration will appear or switching to something else is the better idea. I hate to give up on things, but I don't want to dump time and energy into a project I won't want to look at twice once it's done, you know? I write because it's something I enjoy, and though I believe important things shouldn't be easy all the time, slogging through a novel I'm not fully behind even at the outset probably wouldn't result in much good.

I guess, then, that my problem is I can't seem to find something I'm really, really enthusiastic to write about. That first novel (which was turned into a trilogy, actually) had all the pent-up writerly ideas I'd been storing for the past few years.

Maybe it's time I tried hunting down a new kind of spark . . . somehow.

Have you ever started projects only to find that the love for the ideas had already died?

-----The Golden Eagle


Cherie Reich said...

Sometimes projects do lose their spark. I find distance can help. Sometimes a stray thought about an old project will come along, and it'll give you want you need. I hope you find that spark. :)

Pat Hatt said...

Haven't had the problem yet, knock on wood. A few times it went where I was expecting it to go, but other than that, so far so good.

Anonymous said...

i find this alot when making music,, i found one solution was to build a basic framework then bury it for a month or two. go back to it as if you are editing someone else`s work.

Old Kitty said...

Oh Golden Eagle! Maybe these are ideas from different novels about to come together - just waiting for a common inspirational thread from your muse to join the dots! I hope so!!!

Hang on in there!!

Take care

L.G.Smith said...

I agree that a spark, or a passion, is important for finishing a project. If I'm not feeling a story, I usually move on. Could be a timing issue and I'll come back to the story later when I'm in a better head space to deal with it. But sometimes the idea just isn't strong enough to keep me hooked. Nothing wrong with setting a story aside and finding something that's more worthy. It's part of the process of developing good ideas, in my opinion.

Margo Benson said...

I lost my mojo for a while with my first NaNo novel because I didn't think I was accomplished enough to turn it into my dream.

After time away from it, I can now see the complexities it requires and am raring to go. Maybe some time away will help. Intersting post.

Beth said...

Wow! Golden I basically had this exact experience. My first novel I finished but I knew there was something wrong with it. I didn't even try to revise it b/c it was too bad. I loved my second, had a great time writing it, and really still love it. My third I hated a quarter way in but made myself finish. It sucked almost as bad as the first. No one loved my second novel as much as me, so I started trying to rewrite it determined to sell it...but it's just not the same...

Laura said...

I've 'pushed on through' something I had lost energy and interest in very early on. It resulted in a lifeless first draft that I never picked back up.

Sounds like you need to refill your inspiration tanks. Read, watch films, pamper yourself... do stuff that fills you up.
Good luck

Lynda R Young said...

Yep, I used to do this before I started outlining. I had many starts that just didn't go anywhere. Now that I outline, it's easier to see if the project is worth persuing. I have many starts and stops with outlines until I find the story that sticks. At least with outlines, they don't take as long to work through.

Diana said...

I just finished my Nano from last year. I hit the 50k and took a break then just couldn't get back into it. The idea of having an unfinished novel bothered me endlessly, so I finished it. I think out of my three novels, it may not be as good, but...it is done.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

A lot has to do with being a perfectionist! I haven't hit that in writing, but in other creative areas of my life, after a while, I start to hate what I am working on. I see it so much and I'm so absorbed and I want it perfect and done NOW.
Everything about you and your blog is quality, Golden. Maybe that's part of what slows you down when writing - you want that quality and perfection.
Either that or I'm way off base!

Siv Maria said...

Getting sidetracked is a problem I deal with. Some projects can loose their spark when I get caught up in other things. Getting bored and moving on to something else gets the best of me. Staying power can be a difficult thing to obtain.

Liz said...

That's why I work on several projects at once.

It's easy to get bored, lose perspective, lose energy on one thing. When that happens, I switch to something else. When I need a break from the newer thing, I go back to an older project.

(It works great with knitting, too.)

Eventually, everything gets finished. Sometimes, a couple things get finished at almost the same time.

Jai Joshi said...

As I was reading this post I was planning on commenting that you need to find a project that you're truly passionate about in order to keep going with it, but you figured that out already.

When you don't care about the story, how can you expect anyone else to? The worst books I've read in my life have been stories where I could tell that they author didn't actually care about it. The spark or passion just wasn't there. You don't want any of your books to seem like that.


Michael Horvath said...

Somehow I wrote a book, never planning on doing so. But I cut my teeth on writing with the music and lyrics I composed over a number of years. Some songs were good, some great, and then there were some that, well, once they were finished I just hit "erase". Same thing goes for writing. Not everything we write is a bestseller. Throw out the junk and start your new idea.

Southpaw said...

I think it is natural. We need to be in the moment of the story and sometimes finding the story of the moment is difficult.

Josh Hoyt said...

Plenty of times. I find that the rejection letters also cause this to happen as well :)

gaylene said...

I don't necessarily agree with others who say you need to find a new story with a spark. I have plenty of 30 page "spark" pages that haven't been finished. I also have lots of novels that have never been revised because I burned out on them. But someday I'll finish/revise them. I've met lots of published authors who were tired of their stories by the time they were published. I think it just happens to some of us after staring at the same words and characters day after day. So push on. Revise. Rewrite. And if you can't force yourself to do it, create a new story and enjoy the journey again, just for you!

Nancy Thompson said...

I have to say no, though it's only because I've written just one novel so far. But I totally get that first-novel-groove-thing you're talking about. I don't know what it is about first novels. It's like a love affair with the person you marry. Moving on to the next one somehow feels...wrong, or just not comfortable. I'm only just beginning my second novel, but already, it's way harder this time around, even though I know all the things I didn't the first time. *sigh*

Trisha said...

I know how it is to feel like you want to write, but not being happy with any of the projects you've got to choose from! I say leave the one you just started & think about something new for a while. Maybe focus on some short stories or something?

M.J. Fifield said...

I always end up feeling that way about my NaNoWriMo projects. But when December comes, they get stuck in a drawer and ignored for a month or two and then when I go back to them, I find I like them a lot more than I thought I would.

Angelina C. Hansen said...

I do miss the feeling I had drafting my first novel--the excitement, the intensity, the laughter and tears. Creating new stories is blissful. Finishing them? Hard work. By the time I get to the end of a story 'm ready to move on to something new. I usually rush the endings.

However, I've learned to love revision. It's not as exciting, but can be very satisfying.

Letting a project rest and then letting others critique it, then working out the problems--that's what brings me the greatest happiness.

Hope you find your bliss, GE!

Jaye Robin Brown said...

I have this, but usually I get the verve back toward the end of a manuscript. Writing does become work at times and for me that's when it gets kind of meh.

I like the idea of floating back and forth some.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Sometimes I get tired of them before I finish them so I put them aside. Usually when I go back to them, I find they weren't as bad as I thought.
Maybe having someone else read them can reanimate them for you.

Rusty Webb said...

That's a pretty common problem. It's hard to tell when the story just isn't working or when you've just spent to much time living in the world.

Hang in there.

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

Maybe you're suffering from burn out. So often we give a project everything we have, then one day we wake up and feel turned off by it.

When this happens to me, I listen to the signals and walk away for a while. I haven't written in a week. During this time I questioned whether my project of three years and counting was worth the effort.

Somewhere deep down I know it is. My muse will eventually return from her coffee break and suddenly I'll be inspired. At least that's the way it went down in the past.

Just don't give up. Keep at it and stay positive. The rest will come.

Tanya Reimer said...

Ummm... Here is my pearl of wisdom-- I work on what strikes me as "hot" in that moment. Genius, I know.

I can't dedicate myself to one book at a time or I would go nutso with boredom after read 75. No, I like to edit one and write/rewrite another. Putting my skills and talents to the test daily in different worlds.

Putting a book aside that annoys me (for 10 years- yes 10!!! Can you believe I did that?) is nothing either. When I come back to it, I'm excited again and when I read it I'm surprised at how good it actually is. Worth a little rewrite. And of course, in those (10) years it was cooling, my skills grew and now I can actually make it into something I am proud of.

Or, sometimes, I take the parts of the ones I didn't finish and tie them all together to create something new and exciting. Again, genius, I know. hee hee.

Point is, it should always be fun, since the pay is so freaking awesome to write for free, what else do we have?

Enjoy your time with your books. Learn from each one. If that means letting them cool off, so be it. Don't be hard on yourself, just adapt to how you write. It might not be like those who push through one book at a time, and really, why does it have to be? You can write the way you want. As long as you write, you're a write.

One day you will finish and you'll be really proud of it. I know I was.

Andrew said...

I can identify. Though I am enthusiastic about my currant work, I can't help but feel that afterwards I won't have anything to write about. I guess I'll find out eventually.
I agree with what Old Kitty said. Just give it some time and all your ideas will probably come flying together to create a super novel.

S. L. Hennessy said...

For me, the best part of writing is starting a new project because ANYTHING can inspire me. Try to think of it as an opportunity to read new books or watch new movies, play new games...anything to "spark" something new.

Melissa Bradley said...

I hear you on this. I had a great story that I loved when I wrote the first draft. Since then it has just been dying on the vine. I can't stand to look at it, let alone try to fix it. I need to get it done and out, but I'm hemming and hawing because I don't like it anymore.

Jamie Gibbs said...

Sounds like the best thing to do is to step away from it and do other, very different things. Then come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes and get stuck in :)

Ash-Matic said...

I get this all the time, but more so with things that are forced on me - like assignments.

I write an awesome essay in my head - but when it comes to getting my fingers on a keyboard, they go a-wandering round the internet instead.

I think this can sometimes come from over-planning, as well as the usual redrafting process.

Jeremy Bates said...

i can tell you this happens with writing! i have an idea that sounds good in the head, but as soon as you put pen to paper, it's lost its luster... and in that case, good riddance lol guess sometimes it is okay to move on

Anonymous said...

This happened to me about four or five summers ago. I was working on two WIPs, heavily writing, and I got tired of them and reached the halfway or three quarters mark for both of them. Later on I realized I was a plotter and because I didn't plan for these two books properly, I didn't know what to do with them. Even after putting them away, I'd like to return to one, but not the other.

MISH said...

I suppose that when you're working non-stop on a project, then you get so close to it and so familiar with it, that you can lose that sense of objectivity... it becomes same-old, same-old (know what I mean?)... so maybe you need a little distance from it & then return with a fresh perspective...

Sarah Pearson said...

How did you get into my head? I've been having a great deal of trouble revising recently, and I thought it was because I didn't like revising. Yesterday, I realised it was because I didn't like the projects. On the upside, the NaNo novel that I hadn't looked at since November turned out to be the one.

Rek said...

It happens often, store away for a couple of months, change your genre, attempt short stories and then see if going back works.

Emily Rose said...

This happens to me sometimes - I lose interest. Or I just can't stand the material I'm producing. I'm sorry about how you feel!:(

Traci Kenworth said...

It happens. All you can do is set it aside and move on.

Madeleine Maddocks said...

I can so so empathise with this as I do it too. I've heard it is common. One author advised ignore the other projects and keep with the first, but it's hard...

Carrie Bastyr said...

Oh I can relate. I'm always in love with my stories when they're in my head, but once they come out as crap (aka first draft), the love starts to fizzle.

Taking a break and working on something else usually helps me.

Good luck! I hope you find the spark again!

Clarissa Draper said...

When this happens to me, I find it helpful to put it aside and focus on something else. Often, the spark will return and I can begin writing it again.

Rena said...

Oh man, yes. I had this "brilliant idea" for a novel and i mapped it all out and figured out who all my characters would be. And I wrote three chapters and decided it wasn't for me.

For me it was already dead. The only thing I can suggest is that you wait until you find that story that just won't leave you alone. The one that wakes you up in the morning. The one where you are writing out plans for one novel and find yourself thinking about another one. Write that story.

Charles Gramlich said...

I think it's generally an absolute that the enthusiasm for a particular project will fade. Everyone I know who writes novels says this, and it's been my experience as well. I find that if I slog through that period and keep it going, the enthusiasm begins to return.

Carol Kilgore said...

Ahh...sounds as if you have melons when you're looking for harps :)

Perhaps it's the novel length that's throwing you. Try writing a novella - people snap them up for Kindles, Nooks, and iPads.

Beth said...

It's hard sticking with a project when a new one looks newer and more sparkly! Good luck to you.

Marsha Sigman said...

I would take a break when you get that feeling! For as long as you need and don't feel guilty about it. This really helps and if it doesn't then move on to next idea.

Carol Riggs said...

Aw! Sorry to hear your spark is fading. Maybe something will re-spark it, or you'll move onto something more sparky. I'm sorta afraid that'll happen to me in a novel I have the ideas for but haven't had a chance to work on it for many months. I hope I can find the same enthusiasm once I EVER get back to it...

Good luck!

Rachel Morgan said...

Um... if you're getting tired of a story before the end, maybe you need to write a shorter story? Maybe that way you'll get to the end before you get tired of it? I don't know. Just an idea!

mooderino said...

i think it's important you have something in your writing that appeals to you. A spark, an idea, an emotional connection - something that's important to you.

And chances are that already exists, but you may have to dig a little into your story to find it.

Moody Writing
The Funnily Enough

The Golden Eagle said...

Cherie: Thank you. :)

Pat: Good for you!

Crowbloke: I like the idea of approaching it that way. There's bound to be more impartiality.

Old Kitty: Thanks! :)

I hope so, too.

L.G.: Now I just have to find something that does feel worthy in the long run. :P

Margo: Good luck with your with your NaNo novel! :)

Thank you.

Beth: That's kind of what I'm afraid will happen if I continue to work on the rewrites I planned for my first novel. The changes I made to the plot are drastic; there are a few similarities in characters, but that's where it ends--despite the fact I had the most fun writing the original draft.

Laura: Thank you!

Lynda: That's true, they don't. Maybe I should have listened when the outline didn't sing to me after working on it for a bit.

Diana: That sounds like me. I did the same thing after hitting the word count goal.

Alex: I can be really perfectionist about things I do; I'm sure you're right about that being a part of why I stall during projects.

Thanks for the compliment about my blog. :)

Siv: Definitely!

Liz: I wish I could multitask with different projects like that, but I have trouble switching from one thing to another without getting confused or feeling like I'm constantly losing momentum on both. At least, that's true when it comes to writing.

Jai: No, I don't--that's for sure!

Michael: Good reminder. Everything someone produces can't be the pinnacle of their achievement; there are lows too, of course.

Southpaw: I'm sure finding it hard right now . . . hopefully it will come to me.

Josh: I've never submitted my work so I've never had a rejection, but I would imagine it would!

Gaylene: I've heard that about published authors, too. And I can see why they would be; all that time and energy going into the same project. I think most people don't like things after too much repetition. :P

Nancy: It does. Like it's the wrong thing, somehow.

Good luck with your second novel!

Trisha: I was thinking about short stories. I've only written a few in the past and it couldn't hurt to expand the repertoire, right?

The Golden Eagle said...

M.J.: I hope I feel that way toward my last NaNoWriMo novel after more time has passed. Right now I don't want to think about it. :P

Angelina: I do the same thing with endings. Sometimes plot details I'd planned to add even get lost because I just barreled through.

I like editing. Revising not so much, because once you start rewriting/moving things around, it can set off a chain reaction of problems . . .

Thank you! :)

Jaye: For me, too.

Susan: Ack, I don't think that would go so well! At least, I'd be embarrassed to show anyone a first draft; they're such a mess. :P

Rusty: Thanks. :)

Andrea: I dunno . . . it's been a while since I did any heavy draft writing. I've just been outlining and thinking about the novel for the past month, so you'd think I wouldn't be that tired of it already!

Hopefully. :)

Tanya: I don't mind editing/writing two stories at the same time, but writing two simultaneously is too much for me. I'm not the best multitasker.

Still, I am considering trying to work on two different projects. At least I would be writing more than I am now!

And it would be nice of writers got paid for writing . . . regardless if they were published or not. :P

Good luck with the novel you set aside for 10 years. :)

Andrew: Good luck with your project!

I felt the same way when I drew closer to the end of my first novel.

S. L.: I love it when there's inspiration everywhere. :) But as it is seems to be avoiding me right now, I'll just have to try and settle on something and DO it.

Melissa: Sounds like we're in a similar boat, then. Hope you find something you like about your project--if that isn't a futile hope.

Jamie: I need something to suck me in . . . LOL.

Ash-Matic: I usually do the same thing with essays. I have a good idea--but I can't write this down. Better go spend some time on something else! :P

Jeremy: I said good riddance to my last two projects after I finished them. Really wasn't sad to get those over with.

Medeia: I'm a plotter, too. I don't like writing anything without having some kind of game plan!

MISH: Yes, I know what you mean. :)

Sarah: Didn't I ever tell you I have superpowers? ;)

That's awesome!

Rek: I'm thinking about doing that, especially the changing genre idea. There are so many others out there--my primary roots are in SF/F, but it would be fun to try something else!

The Golden Eagle said...

Emily: Ah, well. Hopefully it will go away and I'll find that enthusiasm again!

Traci: Yeah . . . I just hate leaving projects behind.

Madeleine: Definitely! I don't usually have more than one project going for the same reason.

Carrie: Thank you! :)

Clarissa: Majority opinion here seems to be to switch to something else and work on that. The blogosphere is pretty convincing . . .

Rena: Sorry to hear it wasn't "your" novel!

My first novel was like that. I just need to find one that does the same thing again.

Charles: Similar to "writer's block" in that respect, then, I suppose. But I just don't want think project to turn into my last two, which after months of not thinking about them, still don't appeal.

Carol: I thought of that when I read your post. Probably. :P

Good point!

Beth: Thank you!

Marsha: I've taken breaks before and you're right, they do help. But since I've only been outlining this story before and I'm only a few thousand words in, I have to wonder why it's feeling dead right out of the gate. :/

Carol: I hope the enthusiasm you had for your project returns!

Thanks. :)

Rachel: I've thought about that. The very few short stories I've written have been fun, and it couldn't hurt to try writing a few.

Mooderino: I'd agree--there should be some kind of connection between writer and project!

M Pax said...

There's a few projects waiting for me to come back... I wonder how long they'll wait.

I use pieces of art as inspiration and write little scenes to try and spark something new. When I need to.

anthony stemke said...

It's easy to lose hope and get insecure, you have to be strong.
You shouldn't have called your novel "stupid", even in jest.
I think it is ok to get a little distracted and work on something else but go back to it. Remember why you started it, you had a good reason, Right?
You sure don't need advice from me, I think you are doing fine.

The Golden Eagle said...

M: Maybe I should do some searching for good images. :)

Anthony: Yes, you're right. I tend to get cynical when I'm stuck with things.