My Writers Circle

Writing => All the Write Questions => Topic started by: Jezzica85 on November 01, 2007, 07:25:31 PM

Title: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: Jezzica85 on November 01, 2007, 07:25:31 PM
Hi everybody,
I don't know if I'm just having a bad day or what's going on, but I had something happen today that's really made me lose heart. I've been working on this particular story on and off for the last 2 years, and for the last year, I've been very happy with everything I've written. All of a sudden, though, the whole thing seems clunky, I feel like I should take an ax to it and start cutting everything in sight, I have writer's block that I can't get through with a jackhammer, and it seems like the story stalled. I've had grand hopes of this being a trilogy for the longest time, and now it seems like I'll never even finish the first complete book. I actually finished it once, then this happened to me before and I rewrote it to what I have now. What do I do? I'm fighting the urge to scrap everything again and I really don't want to because I love my characters, but I can't figure out what's going on! Can anyone give me some sage words of wisdom and help me save my story from getting shredded?

Thanks,
Jezzica85
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: naturewalker on November 02, 2007, 04:32:31 AM
Jezzica,
And I thought I was the only one going through it!!!! Did you shred the first version? Hope you did not! Put it aside for a couple of days. Go for a walk,a swim, listen to music- do anything but donot open this manuscript. If you love your characters- they will stand. Is there anything particular that is putting you off? Try and list out what is giving you trouble rather than generalising and doing the whole thing over again! The human brain can handle lists of seven quite comfortably. So list out seven SPECIFIC things you are finding awkward. Change them. Stop. List out seven more. Change them. Stop. Do this for a maximum of three to five cycles. Then, let it go. Do you have an editor in mind? Let the Editor do the rest. At best he will like your effort. At worst he will give you specific feedback about what is wrong in your book.

As for writer's block... no one can beat me at that! I have not written anything meaningful for last six months!!! I still am hopeful that my first book will get published by the end of this year. Well.. if not this year end, may be by mid- next year...

I am sure this happens to most people. I am sure it only needs a little bit of grit... but we can get out of it! I have been trying to write on MWC regularly to break my inhibitions and blocks. It seems to be working.

So get down to it- and most of all- ENJOY yourself!
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: bob414bob on November 02, 2007, 05:34:03 AM
We all go through this. I've gone from loving my book to hating every word more times than I care to mention. My advice is to set out a brief out line of where you want the book to go. Then check that against your ms. I know when I started mine, I had a clear picture in mind, then my characters had other ideas and went off on a tangent.

I do agree with naturewalker as well. Go and do something completely different and relax. I'm sure when you come back to it you'll have a burst of inspiration and will see where you want to make changes.
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: Christopher Silva on November 02, 2007, 06:15:07 AM
I have found that I simply put it aside for awhile and try not to analyze it so much. i'll give it to a friend or post part of it on a web site and from the reactions and responses I get the urge to hit the keys again.


chris
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: Nelodra on November 02, 2007, 07:09:37 AM
I agree with all that's been said already, and would like to add some of myown thoughts/experiences.

What helps me beating the writer's block is usualy one of these things:

These are the things that help me.
They won't necessarily help you, but you could always try. Youwon't knwo if it works for you unless you've tried it.  ;)
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: Jezzica85 on November 02, 2007, 07:38:49 AM
Thanks for all the advice guys, I feel much better now.

And no, naturewalker, I never shredded the first version. I still have it and I used a lot of the ideas from it in my second version, basically the biggest difference between them is a switched from an omniscient POV in the first one to third person limited, all from my protagonist's POV, in the second version. I thought it flowed better and has more focus on the right person (which it does, so I did a good thing there  :) ). I actually don't have an editor; I'm just doing this for fun at the moment and I'm just trying to get it all down. I don't have the guts at the moment to do anything more than that.

I've been thinking about starting the second book, because I know basically what is going to happen--the specific events that needed to happen for that book to begin are already written down in the first one. Would that be a bad idea, skipping ahead this far? In my story timeline it would be about 6 months after where I am right now.

Again, thanks a lot everybody, I think you've effectively saved me from another shredding session, and this one I would have regretted.

Jezzica85
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: thatollie on November 02, 2007, 08:31:04 AM
I've done this before, and I hope this helps. You won't know exactly what works and what doesn't until you've finished. There is no point making changes halfway through, only at the end.
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: bob414bob on November 02, 2007, 08:44:46 AM
Hi,
    also remember that no writing is wasted. If you've learned something from it then that's a good thing, used what you've learnt to improve it.
Why don't you post a piece on here to get some other peoples ideas. I find that helps me more than anything. I think as a writer we are sometimes too close to the work to see clearly. A new set of eyes can work wonders and give you a new slant on things. Good luck,
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: naturewalker on November 02, 2007, 02:07:44 PM
Jezzica!
Good you have all the work. If what you feel like doing is starting the next book- what are you waiting for?! Go ahead! Start. That just might be the thing you need!!!

Happy to be of any help at all.

All the best!
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: Writers Block on November 02, 2007, 08:22:23 PM
Leaving it alone for a bit can help.

Or you could try to be proactive.  ;D

Get a pad and pen, or use a a comp, whatever works for you.

List what you like about it, and what you don't.

Once you think you have a list (save it and add to it as neccessary) work on your strengths. At the same time look at ways for resolving your weeknesses.

For instance:
If you think it's your punctuation, then look for ways of improving it, tuition, self-help books, writing courses, or whatever combination resolves your problem.

Look at it as a learning exercise, a means to grow and improve your self AND your skills and confidence.

Whilst it's possible some of your streangths may turn out to be weaknesses, it's equally likely some of what you thought was bothering is actually a positive. ;)

Most important of all - don't give up. :)
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: AJ Barnett on November 03, 2007, 04:24:18 AM
Jezzica, I think that when you get to this stage, it means that you have become a REAL writer.

You have become your own worst critic, and that means everything.  To be satisfied with your own work means that you aren't looking at it through artistic eyes. As a writer you need to be striving for perfection, and the better you actually become, the worse your work seems. It seems to me that you're at the stage where another professional needs to appraise it - without your perfection prejudice.

Good Luck -Anthony
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: naturewalker on November 04, 2007, 12:30:11 PM
WOW!!! Beautifully put!!! And I was mundanely suggesting an editor!!! Anthony you must be great yourself!!!
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: AJ Barnett on November 05, 2007, 02:16:48 AM
Thank you for that dose of urine extraction, naturewalker. Point taken - Anthony
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: naturewalker on November 05, 2007, 02:43:01 AM
I honestly meant that!!! Please do not take it otherwise!!
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: AJ Barnett on November 05, 2007, 05:16:06 AM
No, naturewalker, on examining my post, it seems quite pompous. I hadn't meant it to come across like that. I'm just a jobbing hack who went through the grind before finally getting published in 1994. I know from painful experience that self critism is hard to come to terms with. - Anthony
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: naturewalker on November 05, 2007, 06:20:08 AM
Well.... here I am... almost convinced that my book will never see the print!  :-\ It is not good enough...  :-[ So I identified with the feeling Jezz described. I am getting a little easier on myself and breaking out of my inhibitions. I have not much in print except a few professional papers in journals.

I thought that your post was very encouraging and actually quite beautifully worded. It made me feel a little better about myself too! ;)

I am appreciating you for how you put it... See my post in the Drabbles section- two short stories which really are plots for full books for me. Can you see me reaching anywhere?
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: AJ Barnett on November 05, 2007, 12:53:17 PM
Naturewalker, my laptop is causing me grief. I'm on dial-up and it's only working at 21kB which is like watching paint dry. Can you tell me exactly where to find your short stories so that I don't have to spend time searching, I'll take a look at them if you'll do that.

And PLEASE PLEASE never, ever, give up, never get too low, always believe that success is waiting around the corner, it's just a matter of finding which corner it's behind.... Keep on looking - Anthony
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: thatollie on November 05, 2007, 12:55:41 PM
Anthony, the drabbles thread is in the writing games and challenges board.
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: AJ Barnett on November 06, 2007, 05:22:25 AM
Thanks thatollie, good-on-you, I've found it. I'm back up to spead now on my laptop, my PS was giving problems and my battery was kn*****. I replaced both five minutes ago.

Naturewalker, I've read your pieces in Drabble, and left the comments there.
Good luck - Anthony
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: thatollie on November 06, 2007, 11:46:42 AM
Jezz has been a bit quiet recently, hope that means she's off writing up a storm.
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: naturewalker on November 15, 2007, 02:31:21 PM
Jezz? Jezz?? Are you on? Or are you on a different planet? Found your words for the next book? I would love to hear from you... I have started editing/ revising my first manuscript after a lot of procrastinating! I owe it to you and Anthony! Thanks Guys! I hope to post a couple of chapters and hear from the pros how to move further.

I feel there are a few gaps in the narrative- things I need to flesh out a bit more and add a few subplot flesh!

Thanks again!
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: AJ Barnett on November 17, 2007, 07:51:45 AM
Glad that my couple of words helped. Sorry I'm late acknowledging but I've been away for a few days. Good luck with everything. Anthony
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: Nick.P on December 02, 2007, 06:32:05 PM
Talk to your characters. Ask them what they think? Write down what they reply. Ask how they feel about the role you have given them?
I have a story (385 pages), where this one character would not go away. I did everything I could to get him out of the story, but he wanted the lead part! I asked why? "Because," he replied, "You have used me in two other books. Now it's my turn."
He was right. I knew him better than the character I had in the lead. "Ok," I agreed, "But you have to help me with the story."

Get to know your characters. If they become real as you write, they will be real to your readers. I even have folders on each character. I know what they like to eat, little habits they have. What they like and dislike. How they get dressed and what they like to wear.
I know little things about them they would never tell anyone. I make drawings of what they look like, and what they think they look like.

                                          Make them real, and your story won't bog down.
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: Nadine L on December 02, 2007, 07:14:21 PM
TA! Yes, this is normal (as everyone has said). From experience, I'd advise to not hatchet.

Need to get past this mood without sharp objects in your hand. Read the posts and find the method that works for you.

I have found that I am less hatchet clutching if I work with someone at this stage. They can be objective where I cannot. Find someone who will be honest. Usually not someone who loves every word you write...while very sweet, not very helpful. Also, there is this: http://www.mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=1601.60

~OR~

Print your ms (you know mss should be double spaced), read it aloud to yourself, stop when you stumble over readability issues or have ideas to insert, or catch errors. Make notes, that is what the double spaces are for, in addition to ease of reading. (Use a highlighter to mark places that really, really make you think, "Wow! I wrote that!" that way you don't cut them when you get in that hatchet mood again.)

Personally, I like to read from the front straight through in a short period of time, like a weekend or a week. If you haven't finished writing the first draft, it will take you to where you are and possibly the momentum will get you writing again.

Just ideas, but yes...this is normal to feel this way.

Nadine
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: Nadine L on December 02, 2007, 07:22:04 PM
Naturewalker,

That's great news. Congrats.

To see if someone is online (here) you can hover your curser over their PM icon, or click on their profile icon. Or at the bottom of the home page where it lists how many guests and how many members are online at the moment, you can click on that line and it will show you where everyone is. Or, look at the list of members online just below that.

Nadine
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: naturewalker on December 02, 2007, 11:46:20 PM
Thanks so much... all of you! Nadine- your idea of a print copy is quite appealing! I get tired of reading computer screens and read endlessly when reading printed matter. Also- that makes sure the hatchet is not irreversible! I still get to keep the soft copy as it is in case I really change my mind!

Nick... that is FAB. Gyppo did one such exercise with me and it felt... amazing! Wow! My characters could convey so much?! I shall do this with the characters in my story and see where it leads me.

You all are sooooo helpful...that it is a wonder such people exist in this real world!

Thanks again.
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: AJ Barnett on December 03, 2007, 01:40:17 AM
Nadine, I don't know about you, but I find that after I do a print out, the work reads differently. I see errors of construction I don't see on screen. I often have to re-write several passages after a 'hard' read. For me the 'hard' read really is an essential part of the process.

Anthony
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: Nadine L on December 03, 2007, 04:33:20 AM
Ta! Anthony, I agree.

Plus I like to take my fav pen in hand and write on the page, to perfect and sometimes to doodle. It is part of the right of passage for the mss.

When finished, it is best to make the corrections from the back forward on the computer version. If you go forward to back, you will eventually change the page numbers and have more trouble finding the place once they no longer match. (If not set in the beginning, best to set page numbering before you print it. They have a way of ending up on the floor more often, if not numbered.) Right, I've never had that happen, but I've heard...  :o

Nadine  ;D
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: naturewalker on December 03, 2007, 05:41:11 AM
Heard of Murphy?  :D the wrench always rolls under the exact centre of gravity of the car! ::) It is always the un-numbered pages that fall to the floor in a heap :P

Murphy is such a Darling! And a lot of fun to read!!! Have any of you tried reading Murphy's laws?
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: AJ Barnett on December 03, 2007, 07:52:23 AM
Read them? He only wrote them because of me.

Anthony
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: Gyppo on December 03, 2007, 09:24:30 AM
Heard of Murphy?  :D the wrench always rolls under the exact centre of gravity of the car! ::) It is always the un-numbered pages that fall to the floor in a heap :P

Murphy is such a Darling! And a lot of fun to read!!! Have any of you tried reading Murphy's laws?

I don't read Murphy's Laws.   I live them ;-)  Not voluntarily, but...

Some days it feels as if the entire Murphy Clan is out to get me.

Nadine:  Paper copy not only reveals mistakes we can easily miss on-screen it also feels more real.  When you hold that thick pile of papers in your hand you know you have a book.  It's no longer just an idea in your head or a collection of ordered electrons on a disc.  For someone who perhaps feels a little unsure of themselves that can be one hell of a boost.

Re Hatchet work.  Never destroy the original.  Even if you rewrite completely.  Often there will be something in that original which may trigger another tale, or a different slant.  There's also the 'Was I really that bad' effect. If you feel you're losing your way, or not progressing as fast as you'd like, looking back over some really dire early work will serve as a sharp reminder of how far you've come ;-)

NW:  Thankyou.  Gyppo almost blushes.
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: naturewalker on December 03, 2007, 12:23:50 PM
Anthony! Have I stumbled on the ORIGINAL Murphy? ;) I have never really experienced a truly Mrphy moment except in traffic jams when the 'other' line always moves faster- and if you change lanes and move into the faster line- the 'other' line moves faster! To be very frank- this suits me just fine sometimes... with my current read on the seat next to me, if I get stuck- I simply roll the windows up and read- crawling on- and reading on.

No, Gyppo! THANK YOU... It was very instructive for me to see my own story transform!
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: thatollie on December 03, 2007, 12:26:53 PM
What is this fantastic character development exercise the two of you have done?
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: naturewalker on December 03, 2007, 12:42:10 PM
Do you really want to know? ;) Are you realllllyyy dying to know....???? :D

On a serious note, however...

Actually, TO, it was a story that I wrote to Gyppo and he sent me back the character analysis of my characters. I could only say- WOW! Did I really say all that through my characters? He also inserted a few quotes for the main players of the story making it all so real.

When I first read his version of my writing, I honestly thought he had only sent me back what I had written with the few typos corrected. Then, I reread mine and his- it was the same- but with a  lot more flesh and 'character' or attitude. It was quite instructive. Infact, that was one of the main reasons, I confess I stayed on at the MWC! Another was Nadine and her gentle encouragement.

This list- of reasons- and friends, I hope, that I am making, is growing everyday. Each interaction is adding to my ability to see my own writing a little more objectively, and sometimes, letting me just hold on to the belief that I can indeed publish my writing.

I am paying attention to Patti's tips, to Anthony's encouragement, to Funwriter's style, and ofcourse- enjoying a good repartee with you.
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: thatollie on December 03, 2007, 12:43:39 PM
I'm glad you're enjoying it here.
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: naturewalker on December 03, 2007, 12:49:13 PM
Enough about me, though! I am beginning to blush!

 Are you enjoying your muse these days... is your writing up there? You seem to be quite prolific!

PS: Thanks for all the help all of you give so naturally.
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: thatollie on December 03, 2007, 12:51:27 PM
I haven't been slacking off all day, I did get piece written.
My muse and I are getting along too well, people are beginning to talk.
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: naturewalker on December 03, 2007, 12:58:45 PM
Hey! Great!! She has not been too friendly with all those who are talking! I am having a good day, too! Mine is becoming a good friend.

Well... to good times ahead...
Title: Re: Realizing that I will never finish my book?
Post by: thatollie on December 03, 2007, 01:00:39 PM
Yep, I feel guilty when I'm in form because others aren't, but I know I'll feel more guilty if I don't write.