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Losing Interest When Writing?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by D. Gray Warrior, Nov 15, 2021.

  1. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

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    For me, getting serious about writing was when the readers and more importantly my publisher asked about a sequel to the first novel. That was when I knew that what I'd written was good enough. Being accepted for publication was a big step, especially given that I'm severely dyslexic, but it still wasn't quite real. But getting the first publishers cheque (OK, bank transfer) and then being asked about a sequel, that was proof that I'd made it - and that I had to be serious if I was to deliver a good enough sequel.

    I should perhaps add that I also found that getting serious about writing also put the pressure on. Suddenly I had something to live up to, expectations to meet. My writing wasn't just a hobby, a bit of fun, something to do when I was bored. It was a lot more than that. That changes the game - and if you don't want to live with that sort of pressure, for whatever reason, then you should perhaps ask yourself why you are writing.
     
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  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    >My writing wasn't just a hobby
    Yep, this happened to me, too, though in a more modest way. It was simply getting the next book done in time to send it to a hired editor. That pressure ran right through the holiday season, casting a pressure-pall over everything. I realized I did not want the experience of writing to deadline again. Targets are fine, but deadlines just turn the pleasure of creativity into the grind of production. For me, for me.
     
  3. Tolkien

    Tolkien Minstrel

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    I have this issue, and sheer effort gets me threw it. Sometime i just need to switch subjects and come back for a second or third,try.
     
  4. Eansur

    Eansur Acolyte

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    I suffer the same thing in my writing. I'm excited and know what I want until I sit down and begin to type/write. Then it all evaporates like fine mist and I'm left grasping for sunlight in the attempt to bring it back.

    But what I've found helps, though not always, is to simply write. It doesn't even have to be good or make sense. String together random sentences and like a slow motor your brain starts to get into the flow of things.
     
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  5. Puck

    Puck Minstrel

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    Ha, ha. Years ago, working in magazine publishing, I had to write a 10,000 word feature article on forklift trucks (obviously with a deadline). Fun (not really). Working in the business professionally means that deadlines inevitably become part of the daily routine. Sometimes it is all about the grind of production. You kind of get used to it - well you become better able to cope with it. It may sometimes be a grind but it does get easier to press on through when you've been through the loop enough times.

    Just be thankful you don't have to cope with the joys of actual publishing/editing on something like a paper magazine & the fun and japes caused by advertisers changing things at the 11th hour. That usually leads to "oh, I now need to find 500 words worth of copy to fill this space in the next 3 hours - Panic Now!" or (just as fun) "oh I now need to cut 500 words from somewhere in the next 3 hours - Panic Now!" No one in publishing, editing or writing particularly loves having to work with tight deadlines but they do tend to come with the territory. (Unless you are George RR Martin writing Winds of Winter).
     
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    >No one in publishing, editing or writing particularly loves having to work with tight deadlines
    Agreed. That's another reason why self-publishing has been a real boon. It liberates the creation from the machine. Artists in pretty much every field have struggled to win free of the demands of publishers, patrons, and even fans. It's true that some folk can not only meet those demands but can even thrive and do good work. But it's nice there are alternatives for those who can't or won't play along.
     
  7. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

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    Pretty much the best writing advice you'll ever get.
     
  8. On paper, yes. However, in practice it's very different for many authors.

    With how the self-publishing market currently works, there is a lot of pressure on (especially full-time) authors to put out books as fast as possible. It's not uncommon for an author to write and publish a book a month or more. There's a very real benefit to doing so, both in terms of algorithms and reader expectations. So people wanting to make a full time living off books are often forced into this (or at least, force themselves to do so).

    As a result, burn-out is a very real and common issue for full-time authors.
     
  9. Puck

    Puck Minstrel

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    That is why trad publishing businesses are fairly deadline focused - it is very hard to make a lot of money out of publishing unless you are pumping out good material at a fair old rate. (Unless you are lucky).

    For that reason, I would have thought that any self-pub author who is good enough to be able to make a reasonable living out of writing (set aside the mega-sellers like the JK Rowlings and George RR Martins of this world) will probably need to effectively become very much like a trad publisher in their own right to be in a position where they can give up the day job. And that inevitably means (self-imposed) deadlines of sorts creeping in and the need to be putting out new material on a regular basis. The ability to grind on through when you are not necessarily in the mood for it will probably end up being a thing sooner or later for anyone who becomes successful enough.

    My first boss had a saying about the struggle associated with meeting deadlines, which is probably as true today as it was all those years ago. I think I commented something along the lines of it all being a bit of a grind, to which he replied "If it was that easy, people wouldn't pay us to do it."
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
  10. Puck

    Puck Minstrel

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    Having wittered on about the inevitability of having to grind on through on occasion, it occurs to me that it is not necessarily a good idea always to do this.

    Sometimes it is better to pause and think through what you are going to write next in order to really nail it.

    It occurs to me you can slow down or dry up for a couple of reasons basically.

    First, you may have a decent idea of what you need to write next but you are not necessarily in the mood to execute it. In that case forcing yourself to grind on through might work - the simple act of writing might get you back into the flow and, since you have a reasonable idea of where you are heading, the details get fleshed out as you go.

    Second, you don't have a particularly good idea of how you are going to handle the next bit. Maybe you have a skeleton outline (the characters need to get from a to b for example) but how they get there, what exactly happens en route and how you make that into something other than a 'filler' might be a grey area. Grinding on through then may work. You might strike inspiration as you go and end up with something very good at the end of it. On the other hand you might end up with a tedious filler section that doesn't really work and needs to be completely re-thought. In order to avoid the latter it may make more sense to pause it, if you make a start and you know it really isn't working, and take some time to think about how you are going to handle it. You might find a really great idea pops into your head a few days or even a couple of weeks later and then you are set to go again.

    This happened to me recently in my current work. I write comedy/satire, so different from most people here I suspect. I don't believe such work needs to be 100% jokes all the way through - story, characterisation and drama are also important. However, I do have a rule that if I write a couple of chapters without a really good joke or a clever piece of satire, then it's not working. So, I had a section of the story where I had a very basic skeleton - I knew where the characters needed to go and what they needed to achieve there. But not the flesh on the bones - how they achieve what they need to achieve and what exactly happens to them. I knew that section needed a good satirical theme to make it work - to make it more than just a tedious filler. I had a few ideas but none of them were really working. They either did not fit the story or they didn't fit the characters etc. At one point I even thought - let's satirise Q Anon - great idea but let's face it, there's enough material there for an entire novel in its own right. So that was out (may write a fantasy novel on that theme one day though - tempting).

    Eventually it came to me however. An idea that clicked with the characters and the situation and that dovetailed nicely with the story. Now it's just down the execution, I can press on with it. So, sometimes it makes sense to take a break to think things through. (Caveat: hopefully that section won't now turn out to be rubbish once I've written it).
     
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    There's a huge difference between writing as a full-time job and writing where money earned (or spent) isn't much of an issue. All advice really needs to be filtered through that difference. I'm retired. I'm not looking to quit my day job because I've escaped it. That, along with advanced age, were the major factors in which path (trad / self-pub) I chose.

    I think these are also factors affecting how and how often I lose interest when writing.
     
    Prince of Spires likes this.
  12. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

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    I'm not sure I agree. This thread started out with the OP saying they'd never finished a story. Finishing a story takes self-discipline. You have to be able to write even when you've lost interest or when the story isn't quite taking shape as you want it to. You have to set yourself a deadline of some sort, otherwise you risk not finishing what you started, It's like any boring task you have at home or at work - if you want to finish it you have to press on. I don't write for a living - I don't need to - but I write because I enjoy it and because my readers seem to enjoy what I write. Yes, I know my readers now have expectations. And yes, those expectations add pressure. But at the end of the day, I wouldn't have got to this point if I hadn't had the self-discipline I needed to finish the first stories. I guess it boils down to how you answer the question: why do you want to write?
     
  13. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I agree with the Swede, even if he is mad. <g>

    I learned to finish, which very much means pushing through when one feels one has lost the way. Academic writing gave me that, especially the thesis and dissertation. There I learned there's a qualitative difference between the term paper and the monograph. Once I took up fiction seriously, I saw it as the difference between the short story and the novel. But every form requires that self-discipline. Motivation, inspiration, are overrated, at least for me. They're nice for sparks, but what's needed is the steady flame and tending the fire through the long night.

    I'll add one other factor: a certain level of faith. Faith in oneself, in the story, in the process. Finishing *something* helps tremendously with that. When I feel lost in the swamps, burdened by dreary edits, or simply stuck before a plot wall, what keeps me going is faith that somehow I'll make progress if I will only sit down, take out pen and paper, fire up the computer, and start. At such times I feel a bit like Frodo at Rivendell: I will go, though I do not know the way. At such times, I can almost hear my completed works cheering me on, assuring me that I'll get through this one too.

    But you have to finish that first one. All the way through to published, all the way through having it before eyes other than your own. To where you as author can no longer touch it because it is finished. Abandoned, as Paul Valery would say.
     
    Mad Swede likes this.
  14. Very much this. And I think this is the issue for many (beginning) writers who struggle to finish something. At 750 words per hour (which is a decent rate), it takes 100 hours of writing to get the first draft of a decent sized novel down on paper. Add in some waste and you're looking at 125 - 150 hours to get a first draft done. At 1 hour per day that means you're writing for half a year. That's a very long time to be inspired and motivated.

    When dealing with that kind of time-frames determination becomes a lot more important than either motivation or inspiration.

    Which is not to say that they're not important of course. You need that story spark to get your story off the ground. But to get to the finishline you just need to push on.
     
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  15. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

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    First it happens to everyone creative I think.

    But have to considered that maybe your putting your skills in the wrong area? My friend, Ryan, used to do a lot of writing, or should I say and lot of grand world-building. And he'd come up with some amazing characters and unique abilities and a decent plot. But he'd never write any of them. He liked the planning but not writing. He used to get so frustrated and he'd spend hours drawing these other world's. No writing. Nothing more than a chapter or two.

    Then he did a short course in designing computers games. Actually this was a component of something else he was studying and found he really liked it. Now he's aiming to design games. He just had to branch out into other creative areas.
     
  16. Pythia

    Pythia Acolyte

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    First I have to say yes I definitely feel this vibe on this comment. I don't know how people are able to stay so disciplined in the writing craft. It has always been a feel it as it comes for me. Currently I am trying to find a routine that works for me to keep me active and putting out words on paper. For me it's like motivation to workout, just take it one day at a time.
     
  17. Chinaren

    Chinaren Scribe

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    This is why I never plan any worlds in advance! By the time that's all done, I've started thinking about something else.

    My advice is just to start writing and work on the world as you go along. Doesn't work for everyone of course, but worth a try perhaps.
     
  18. Frank Solis

    Frank Solis Acolyte

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    I am a self-published author and from what I have learned about writing is that first of all, a writer must enjoy or love the subject they are writing about. Secondly, that the writer takes the subject of writing very seriously. I treat my writing in one of two ways. either writing for pleasure, or for writing for work. This helps keep me focused, because my pleasure writing mindset is for mostly songwriting, and poetry, which both give me a measure of personal pleasure. My serious writing mindset, is for when I am working on my books, which is most of the time. Writing books also gives me pleasure, but it is a much more uptight frame of mind, as I have to be aware of not only my creative writing mindset, but also of all the other facets of writing whenever I'm working on a book. I presently have an urban fantasy book which came out in May 2021 "Hechicero the Legend Begins," and is the first part of a trilogy for sale online, and I also I have just released a self-help success book, "Your Mind the Computer/Your Body the Car.". Now, I am moving on and going to organize, and edit a fifty poem romantic poetry book, starting today. So, I guess "if one wants to become an author then one has to pay the price, and make oneself write, and write and write, no matter how one feels!" By the way, on the back burners, I have parts two and three of the trilogy, an also a Christian book, and sadly, no rest for the weary. Lol!
     
  19. clarkjohnson9

    clarkjohnson9 New Member

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    I feel most writers, go through this at some point. If I get stuck, I try writing something else because I find that writing is the most essential thing when I sit down to do so. As a result, I usually have one large novel and one or two short pieces going at any given moment.
    If you're serious about writing (or, for that matter, any studies or work), you'll have to learn to do whatever it takes even when you're not in the mood. It's all about self-discipline, and you'll need to practice.
     
    Tolkien likes this.
  20. Parkeexant

    Parkeexant New Member

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    well i never lost interest in writing but you can take a break once in a while maybe that will help
     
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