1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Severe writer's block

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by vmedichalo, Feb 17, 2020.

  1. vmedichalo

    vmedichalo Acolyte

    8
    1
    3
    Dear fellow writers out there:

    My back-story: Around 16 years ago I developed the main characters. Then around 10 years began fleshing out the story, maps, how the world worked, etc. Two years ago I came to the conclusion of the novel and began to write.

    I have been in this WRITER'S BLOCK since July 2019 (now February 2020). I have outlines on everything that needs to be written but I just can't seem to find myself in this world anymore. Parts of me think that it is just too crazy and will go nowhere so why should I invest this much effort. But I love the story, the characters, and they have become a part of me. Looking for advice on how to get out of this extreme dry spell.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    5,422
    2,423
    313
    I don't have a solid suggestion for you on how to fix this, but what you describe sounds like it might be a case of idea debt. There's a good article about it here Imagining your future projects is holding you back. and it's got a few suggestions that may or may not be helpful. Maybe just even identifying it as a thing might help.

    Best of luck with it though, and hopefully you'll work something out. :)
     
    Kasper Hviid likes this.
  3. vmedichalo

    vmedichalo Acolyte

    8
    1
    3
    Thanks Svrtnsse,
    The link is definitely helpful and helps get at I think some of the emotions that I am feeling.

    I think the other hard part is (without giving away the plot), I’m half-way through and the main characters all have had to die. It might sound weird but I feel like I’ve actively been grieving their deaths—since they have been with me for 16 years. And now, I have the other half of the novel to finish without them.

    I know many people out there have thousands of pages, and many books. But this is planned to be a self-contained story less than 1000 pages riddled with complexity but as it’s authors, like many, feel like it has a purpose. But boy, writers block sucks haha.
     
  4. The Dark One

    The Dark One Maester

    775
    266
    63
    Have you broken your story down into chapters and then mapped out what needs to happen in each chapter? Even if you just do it for the first few chapters you might find yourself automatically generating prose.

    Alternatively, give it a break and start writing something else for a change.
     
  5. vmedichalo

    vmedichalo Acolyte

    8
    1
    3
    I appreciate the suggestions! Yes. So the Novel is broken into six "books" and each "book" has up to 8 sections. I have fully outlined each section from the beginning to the end.

    Again, I think one of the hardest parts is that I had to kill the main characters off mid-way through for the rest of the novel to make sense. So it is weird to not be using their voices anymore. If anything this has been a helpful outlet for me since none of my friends have any clue how to remotely understand what a fantasy world means can mean to you.

    In the meantime of the 8 month hiatus: I wrote a psychological horror novella, composed a bunch of music, and started my PhD haha--so I have been keeping myself occupied hahaha.
     
    Nighty_Knight likes this.
  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,695
    3,183
    313
    A few things.

    The first is that you need to do your best to make a routine out of writing narrative, regardless of whether you're writing your future bestseller, a writing exercise, or a piece of garbage draft that you may never even show to anybody. You have writer's block? Your story needs to be completely reworked? You're just sick of it and need a break? Okay. Write something else while you figure it out. There's a million prompts. But the most powerful impetus to write is going to be habit. Prioritize good writing habits. Don't let writer's block completely shut you down if you can help it. (I just looked again and saw you wrote a horror novella - good job!, and consider these comments for others who might be reading this too).

    Now if you're bored with your story, that is extremely normal, the kind of phase that everybody ends up going through at some point or another. You stare at this story for-friggin'-ever, and even for as much as you love it, part of you starts to hate it a little bit. Assuming that's all it is, there's a few things you can do to try to psyche yourself back up for your story, like refreshing yourself on all the cool parts you're excited about. That can make it easier, but ultimately being successful comes down to working through the hard parts.

    Finally, if you're having trouble with your story, it could mean there's a real problem with your story. If it feels boring, or long-winded, or hard to express, or whatever other hypothetical problem you might be feeling from it, these could be coming from you as a reader, wanting to put your own story down. Or maybe you've changed and grown as a writer, and story decisions you made years ago when you were less experienced or even just liked different things are still wedged into your concept, dampening your enthusiasm. Cuts can be liberating. Take a fresh, honest, "what decision would I make if I was thinking it through for the first time today" approach, draw on your full growth as a writer, and do what's necessary.
     
  7. The Dark One

    The Dark One Maester

    775
    266
    63
    Everything Devor said...

    Plus, I note you are grieving having to kill off your main characters. Never forget that a story plan is just a plan and plans never survive in the execution. You might find yourself surprised where the characters take you, but they won't take you anywhere unless you give them life.
     
    vmedichalo and Nighty_Knight like this.
  8. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

    423
    108
    43
    Pretty much the same situation you was in and sadly I have no advice for you as, no matter what I did, I just couldn't break out of it. So had to do something else. I loved the idea. I loved the characters I just couldn't get it off the run way for whatever reason. I may go back to it later, who knows. But it's best not to put all your eggs in one basket. I've learnt with myself, that if I don't get an idea going after 6 months it's not going to. So I don't waste years on ideas anymore. If nothing happens I move on to something new. Not every idea you love it meant to be written evidently.

    Try something else for a while.
     
    vmedichalo likes this.
  9. I'm going to assume that you really want to get this story written (if not, then there's lots of better things to do like enjoying the sunshine). If that is the case then you just have to man up, sit down and start typing.

    There's lots of other good advise in the threat (I like Devor's). But in the end it comes down to simply this. Put your butt in your chair and your hands on your keyboard. Key your notes handy and just start typing. It might feel slow and the words might not come right away, but this is the only way in which the story gets written. It takes a lot of words and a lot of time to write a novel. The first draft doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't even have to be good. It just needs to be written.

    It reminds me a bit about the Neil Gaiman (who has written several bestsellers) story on middles. Apparently, at one point, halfway through a novel he was writing, he called his agent and complained that the book sucked and that he was stuck and he probably should quit writing it and just start something new. To which his agent responded that this was the same as with every other book. Neil would always call him halfway through the book full of doubt and then continue on and write an amazing book.
     
    Nighty_Knight likes this.
  10. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Troubadour

    113
    29
    28
    You mean you already wrote half your draft? Or are we still talking planning? (Not trying to be snarky, I'm genuinely unsure)
     
    vmedichalo likes this.
  11. vmedichalo

    vmedichalo Acolyte

    8
    1
    3

    Hi Devor: thank you for this thoughtful response. It is really direct and helpful and began to help my brain get going--or at the very least start endtering my fantasy world again :)
     
  12. vmedichalo

    vmedichalo Acolyte

    8
    1
    3
    You are absolutely right. It is hard to do. But it is true that sometimes that you need to just sit down and type. I like the idea that the first draft doesn't have to be perfect--seeing how I am a perfectionist--that might be a really good approach for me. And the link to to Gaiman is super relatable and much appreciated!
     
  13. vmedichalo

    vmedichalo Acolyte

    8
    1
    3
    So yea, to sort of be super clear. Over the past 10 years, I worked out the entire plot and wrote out bullet points all of the events, plot points, etc that needed to occur within the story. Once I determined how the story needed to occur, I began to write. Whether or not that was the best approach--Idk--but for me that was the way that worked best. So since I began writing, in terms of "plot", I am a little more than half-way through writing the first-draft of the plot. I continue to follow my notes to make sure I stay on target because the plot gets so complicated that I need to stay on target haha. So on "paper" I have gotten through half of the plot but in my head and on paper for outlines, I have the entire plot fleshed out. Does that get at your question better?
     
  14. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Troubadour

    173
    66
    28
    Has anyone else read your story? If not, then a good critique group might help, at least with the first few chapters. They could see things that we can't.
     
    vmedichalo likes this.
  15. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

    423
    108
    43
    So you're ideas are planned out but you're struggling with thinking of what to write? Maybe you need to plan in more detail. Some people do need that and others don't.
     
  16. vmedichalo

    vmedichalo Acolyte

    8
    1
    3
    Thanks Ned, it is a great idea. I have tried this. Most people will read the first half of Part 1 and have provided positive feedback. But nobody has really read beyond that...which for me is tough because I find the "true" plot to start moving after that stage. If you have suggestions on how to establish a critique group, that would be great!
     
  17. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

    423
    108
    43
    I really would consider holding off on getting feedback until your full book is completed and edited to the best of your ability that way no ones time is being wasted. Though posting as you go can provide encouragement, it can also hinder you as you become tempted to edit and not move forwards or can become discouraged. Just my opinion.
     
  18. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    6,105
    3,949
    313
    Better to look for an existing one, as running one takes a fair amount of work. Look locally for a physical one; many online groups also exist.
     
  19. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Troubadour

    173
    66
    28
    As Skip says, it's easier to join an existing one (providing it's well run). I set my own fantasy and sci-fi writers' group up because there was nothing locally. It took several months to get started, but now it's very active.

    I mostly agree with Darkfantasy and have seen problems when writers want an ongoing critique as they write their novel. In fact I ban this approach in my group as I think it's harmful—I've seen the harm. But having the beginning part critiqued can be very useful (but you've already done that).

    I write short stories to refresh myself and like to have these critiqued. The feedback often helps with my longer fiction, too.

    I used Meetup.com to start my writers' group. It's a good way, the only disadvantage is that it costs money. I also have a FB group connected to it, but all of the most active members joined via Meetup.

    We run critique meetings, flash fiction challenges, and socials. One thing I've noticed is that over the years, the longer term members have grown to understand each others writing, and also the nature of critiquing, making the group much more effective than it was at the beginning.
     
  20. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    1,195
    797
    113
    You basically just need to force yourself to sit and write regularly. The time you give depends on you and your schedule. I'm there now. Took a year long break from writing and publishing because it had exhausted me (seven books in less than two years). Too much. So now I'm ready to write again and finding it tedious, finding it hard, finding it difficult to write ANYTHING no matter what the idea and I have several. Part of the problem is that I'm ready to write fantasy again but my audience reads westerns. It's like starting over again.
     
Loading...

Share This Page