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Losing Interest When Writing?

Mad Swede

Maester
>So, if you want to be serious about writing

That's a fairly big field. Does serious mean make a living at it? Does serious mean finishing a novel and submitting (or self-publishing)? Just for perspective, serious in my case meant the latter. Just getting a major story done.

But once that was done, how then to be serious? So I changed the goal to be, make enough money to cover costs (ads, covers, edits, etc.). Still not there.

But even then, that's more of a goal that a characteristic. I guess serious for me really just means keep telling stories until I look around in Altearth and decide there aren't any more stories to tell. OK, so what does "keep telling" mean? A book a year? Never taking time off? If I just stop for a month or a year, am I no longer serious? Or, with four books and four short stories published, have I already crossed the Serious finish line and don't need to worry about it any more?

I'm not entirely sure. Which is fine by me. Being entirely sure feels decidedly uncomfortable.
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.
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
>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.
 

Tolkien

Minstrel
So, I love worldbuilding, and I like writing. However, I seem to lose interest pretty quickly whenever I try to write a story set in any of my worlds.

I don't think I've ever been a very prolific writer even before this problem, as I abandoned most of my projects, but even then I would get in at least a few chapters. Now, it seems like I can't even write between a few sentences or a couple of paragraphs before I call it day.

I've been forcing myself to write even when I am not feeling it because I think that even just a sentence is better than not writing anything at all.

I also think a lot of what I write is just flat out bland , even writing something like fantasy.

I believe my main issue is losing touch with my creative side and imagination, and there's stuff I deal with in my daily life like school and work that probably don't help with my issue.

Does anyone else have this problem? How can I overcome it?

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.
 

Eansur

Acolyte
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.
 

Puck

Minstrel
Targets are fine, but deadlines just turn the pleasure of creativity into the grind of production.

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).
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
>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.
 
I'll suggest there's a big, qualitative difference between losing interest sometimes and losing interest always. I note particularly the OP saying they have *never* completed a single story.

That's significant. I worked on a novel for years. One day, an idea for a short story walked into the room. Not much more than half an idea, really. Hardly more than an image. But it stuck with me and I was determined to get that story written.

Here's the important part: I finished it *and* sent it out to various magazines. Got rejections but also got an acceptance, on condition that I improved this and that. Minor changes. I did that and it was published.

And that made all the difference. It gave me not so much confidence as familiarity. I knew only then, after having written all the way to published, what the process was for me. I actually did a novelette and self-published it before finishing my first main novel. There again, getting all the way to done was hugely important in getting me through those patches where my focus, enthusiasm, inspiration lagged.

Really I credit my academic writing. As a history major I had to write papers, and there again it was all the way through the "submit" process. Then came a master's thesis and a dissertation. So when I undertook to write a novel, I sort of knew the ground, even though fiction writing is a quite different beast.

Finish something. Submit it.

There really is no substitute. It can be short or long or middling. It might be lousy or great. Doesn't matter, because ultimately it's not about the work, it's about you understanding how to do the work. How *you* do the work. Until you get there, you are forever sketching.

Also, if all you enjoy is world building, that's fine! It's a great hobby ... much cheaper than owning a boat.
Pretty much the best writing advice you'll ever get.
 
>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.
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.
 

Puck

Minstrel
So people wanting to make a full time living off books are often forced into this (or at least, force themselves to do so).

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."
 
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Puck

Minstrel
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).
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
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.
 

Mad Swede

Maester
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.
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?
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
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.
 
Motivation, inspiration, are overrated,
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.
 
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.
 

Pythia

Acolyte
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.
 

Chinaren

Scribe
So, I love worldbuilding, and I like writing. However, I seem to lose interest pretty quickly whenever I try to write a story set in any of my worlds.

...

Does anyone else have this problem? How can I overcome it?

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.
 
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!
 

clarkjohnson9

New Member
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.
 

Parkeexant

New Member
So, I love worldbuilding, and I like writing. However, I seem to lose interest pretty quickly whenever I try to write a story set in any of my worlds.

I don't think I've ever been a very prolific writer even before this problem, as I abandoned most of my projects, but even then I would get in at least a few chapters. Now, it seems like I can't even write between a few sentences or a couple of paragraphs before I call it day.

I've been forcing myself to write even when I am not feeling it because I think that even just a sentence is better than not writing anything at all.

I also think a lot of what I write is just flat out bland , even writing something like fantasy.

I believe my main issue is losing touch with my creative side and imagination, and there's stuff I deal with in my daily life like school and work that probably don't help with my issue.

Does anyone else have this problem? How can I overcome it?
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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