Author Topic: Writer's block again  (Read 177 times)

alhawke

Writer's block again
« on: September 12, 2022, 08:34:10 AM »
Thoughts? Do you get writer's block? I didn't revive a zombie thread 'cause it was two years old. Here's a bit of something new I thought I'd share.

I have a new project I'm working on... from an old one. Talking about writer's block, I've written three versions of this novel. And I don't mean a few pages, I mean, start to finish, about three entirely different one-hundred-and-fifty page versions--each one a failure. Well, I looked at the manuscript today and decided to finish and use it.  grint I think we can be our worse critic. My story is something that's been in my mind for many, many years, so in an effort to make it perfect, I just didn't get it done. I think many of us do this and some never even publish a single novel. Now I realize I have a workable manuscript and I'm gonna get it published.

If I complete this book (and, who knows, I still might not), it also means that all the crazy workings in my head for years that might never have been seen by anyone but me will be published by next year. Many of my "new release" novels actually have ideas and characters I made up a decade or so ago. So, as much as we complain about this industry, the fact that I'm getting my stories seen is very exciting to me. And hopefully I can spread some of that excitement to all of you (cause we're all doing this with our projects, aren't we?).


A.L. Hawke | Author website | Goodreads | BookBub
 

Anarchist

Re: Writer's block again
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2022, 08:58:25 AM »
Re: writer's block: I never struggle with it.

Re: perfectionism: I publish knowing I can always make my books better. I'd rather publish an imperfect book than toil endlessly to perfect it.
"The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.” – Thomas Sowell

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LilyBLily

Re: Writer's block again
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2022, 09:23:01 AM »
I know the stories I publish are imperfect, but the stories I read are imperfect, too. Readers do give authors some latitude and I expect to be given that courtesy by my readers. I don't usually sweat making my novels utterly perfect. The story simply has got to work. Once I think it does work and I have a beginning, a middle, and an end, I'm done except for some tweaks.

When a story isn't going the right way for me I have learned to listen to my muse, because it is trying to tell me that my idea for the story or a particular character is wrong. When I don't listen, that's when writer's block can occur. I can't force my characters to do what I want; I'm only the sculptor revealing what is there already. (Well, not that arty, but you get the idea.)

However, there is more than one kind of writer's block and I suffered through the disastrous kind for many years. Soon I am going to decide if I will ever attempt to rewrite a story I rewrote completely but abandoned. It doesn't feel good to have abandoned a story I put so much into but, as we have discussed previously, some themes are simply passe and I can't imagine anyone wanting to read that particular plot today. So I'd have to completely rewrite it again. What's the point? To say I finished it? Maybe, but is that a good use of my time?

 
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Jeff Tanyard

Re: Writer's block again
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2022, 09:24:58 AM »
Yes, but it's no mystery as to why it happens.  When I get it, it's because I don't know where the story's going or I've written myself into a corner.

The cure for writer's block, for me at least, is to outline the story so I know where I'm going and how to get there.  And by "outline," I really mean a detailed synopsis.

I envy the pantsers, and I wish I was one of them, but I simply can't do what they do.  (I'm talking about novels here; short stories are a different matter.)
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Hopscotch

Re: Writer's block again
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2022, 10:04:09 AM »
Re: perfectionism: I publish knowing I can always make my books better. I'd rather publish an imperfect book than toil endlessly to perfect it.

Entirely true but here's the but:  Walt Whitman continually revised/republished Leaves of Grass across his whole writing career.  Did him/his career no harm.  Did us reading today a lot of good.  Sometimes w/some books you just gotta do that.
 
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alhawke

Re: Writer's block again
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2022, 10:38:39 AM »
Soon I am going to decide if I will ever attempt to rewrite a story I rewrote completely but abandoned. It doesn't feel good to have abandoned a story I put so much into but, as we have discussed previously, some themes are simply passe and I can't imagine anyone wanting to read that particular plot today.
The advantage to working on projects already worked on is that you have, at the very least, an outline of ideas that you can work with. And, if editing it turns out well, it's worth releasing. I'm not sure if mine will but, after today's review, I think it can. And I think I can work it into something vogue enough for today. If it doesn't, it will be filed as a fourth rewrite. :tap
The cure for writer's block, for me at least, is to outline the story so I know where I'm going and how to get there.  And by "outline," I really mean a detailed synopsis.
I'm a pantser. All my books were written without outlines. However some projects, like potentially this one, might have needed an outline. I suppose full length throw away novels will suffice as "outlines". Could have saved a lot of time with an outline, in this case, but I'm just not comfortable using them. :shrug
« Last Edit: September 12, 2022, 10:42:48 AM by alhawke »


A.L. Hawke | Author website | Goodreads | BookBub
 

LilyBLily

Re: Writer's block again
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2022, 11:59:33 AM »
My rewrite was basically an outline--a synopsis submitted to an editor--and it got rejected. So...back to just feeling my way. Pantsing is really lots of fun if one has the right attitude.
 
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The Bass Bagwhan

Re: Writer's block again
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2022, 11:09:35 AM »
Everyone's touched on roughly the same idea, with which I agree. Situations like usually come about from deep-seated, even tacit acknowledgement that the story is somehow flawed. Your writer's instincts are telling you it has a real problem - maybe more than one - and that stops you from feeling the narrative is properly resolved.

You need to either seriously anaylse the story, or introduce a new, radical story arc while somehow holding onto the original premise that attracted you in the first place.

Good luck.
 
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cecilia_writer

Re: Writer's block again
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2022, 05:04:12 PM »
Everyone's touched on roughly the same idea, with which I agree. Situations like usually come about from deep-seated, even tacit acknowledgement that the story is somehow flawed. Your writer's instincts are telling you it has a real problem - maybe more than one - and that stops you from feeling the narrative is properly resolved.

You need to either seriously anaylse the story, or introduce a new, radical story arc while somehow holding onto the original premise that attracted you in the first place.

Good luck.

This is very true - I hadn't really thought of myself ever having  writer's block as I usually just keep writing until I've come out at the far side of the problem, so to speak, but only a few days ago I realised my novel (the 25th in a mystery series) looked as if it would end up quite a lot shorter than the others in the series because I had almost run out of plot. I had to pause and look back at the chapters I'd already written and work out where to introduce some characters who could make things more complicated,. Having done that I've returned to the end and decided that the scenes of characters in peril that I had thought would come almost at the end of the novel will have to be resolved now so that I can work towards a more satisfying conclusion, with the antagonist, who had been working alone, becoming part of something larger.
I think this would have escalated into full-scale writer's block if I hadn't stopped to disentangle it. One reason I think this is that I actually had to abandon my previous work in progress at 40,000 words because I couldn't see where to go with it. Maybe this is nature's way of telling me to start planning ahead in a more organised way!
Cecilia Peartree - Woman of Mystery
 
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Hopscotch

Re: Writer's block again
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2022, 08:02:36 AM »
I think what we're calling writer's block is just getting stalled in a story.  Not the same thing.  Writer's block is like cancer - it hits you unexpectedly w/the potential to write The End to your writing career.  Getting stalled in a story is less dramatic.  You cure it by hammering keys writing crap until you hit a solution and carry on w/the story.  Or you slide that ms into the bottom drawer of your desk and let it season a year or a decade until the solution pops into your mind.  Meantime, you write something else or do haiku or learn welding to clear your mind.  No stalled story is worth the misery of worrying that you've got writer's block and will never write again.
 

cecilia_writer

Re: Writer's block again
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2022, 01:50:23 AM »
I think the term writer's block may have evolved to mean something a bit less drastic than not being able to write at all,  and there are now different degrees of it. I have been lucky enough only to have felt the merest threat of getting it! On the other hand, for quite a long time I just physically didn't have enough time to write anything very much, and so I probably have lots of untold stories in my head to fall back on.
Cecilia Peartree - Woman of Mystery