It was inevitable. What goes up must, at some stage, go down. Yeah, the drug that was the character high has now worn off. Big time. Everything is as it was – crap. Oh, not entire crap because I still have had that great character revelation and I still feel good about it. I just need to rewrite the rest of the story. Completely.

So. Awesome.

I guess that’s the ‘wonderful’ thing about writing. One minute you cannot believe the power of your fantastic brain. The next you cannot believe the power of your own ability to convince yourself anything you write is actually good.

And it doesn’t help that – for the unpublisheds among us – we are essentially writing in a vacuum. Oh, we have critique partners and other people to read our work and give feedback but once we send that baby away, we’re looking at months and months of waiting without any clue about whether we headed down the right track or whether once again, we’ve been gullible about what we’ve been writing.

We have no reason to keep going in other words. No reason to keep writing. Certainly no reason to keep rewriting. With no deadlines, no rabid fans clamouring to read your next book, nothing to keep you motivated, it’s extremely hard to think of reasons why you should even finish the book you’re currently writing (cos no one will EVER read it right??).

Sometimes loving writing just isn’t enough.

So how do you keep yourself going when you’re in the vacuum?Β  When you’re doing nothing but waiting? When you’re not sure if the stories you’re writing are complete crap or genius? How do you keep the faith?
Any tips gratefully received!

12 thoughts on “Crash”

  1. I’m sorry to hear this Jackie. Your story isn’t crap – such enthusiasm won’t have been over nothing. But excitement is like a sugar high, you come back down and feel lower than before.

    What do I do? Well, to be honest, I find it harder to keep going on the same story once I’ve “realised” it’s no good. Unless I’m only in the first half, it can be too daunting to go back through the whole thing. I pick up better if I analyse WHY it’s crap and carry that across to a new story (that’s only if the problems are so big that they will require a rewrite, not just tweaks). I don’t know how far you are in to this story, but if it’s after a love scene, I’m guessing at least half way. So my suggestions are:

    – Identify EXACTLY why it’s crap. Read through what you’ve got and make note of every thing that makes you groan. If you can’t find anything specific, then this crash is based in emotion, not reality. By next week, you should be realising how good it is again (or at least accepting how it can be fixed in a positive way). If you jot down a whole lot of things, then now you have a list of what needs changing. I like to tick these off as I make the changes, because it reflects that I AM making progress.

    – Not to keep writing until you’ve fixed up what you’ve got. Too many times have I gone ‘Oh, all of that is wrong, but I just want to finish, so I’ll come back to it.’ And then I don’t, because I have a complete story that needs reworking from start to finish. Too daunting.

    – Remember your end goal. Publication. Being a romance author. Remember that the only way to get there is if you truly believe you can do it. An editor can see if you don’t believe in your work. If you don’t believe in yourself today, take it off and come back tomorrow. Sometimes, those days off are the best things for me. It gives me time to start itching to write; to realise that no, I can’t live without writing. So what do I have to do to succeed? Oh yeah, make those changes!

    By the sound of it, your story had a huge revelation the other day. It’s likely that elements of your story aren’t crap and need to go – it’s that elements from this new revelation are missing. It could be that once you identify which bits are crap, you’ve actually identified the places you can insert this new slant on the story. If my methods are way off track for you, I hope someone else’s comment helps. Hugs, Madeline x

  2. Oh Jackie. I’ve been there so many times. But I don’t think I have really, really good advice because I’ve always just waited for it to pass. Mainly because although I said I was going to stop writing for a while, I couldn’t. But my good or bad advice is to take a SMALL break. Have the weekend off to just enjoy reading, which is generally what led us all to writing in the first place. Read good books that make you want to achieve and BAD BOOKS that make you think, hell, I can do better than that.
    Because you can. I have faith!!

  3. I feel for you, Jackie πŸ™

    I know exactly that feeling of ‘Why the hell am I doing this? What’s the POINT? Will I EVER have anything to show for all my effort.’

    It’s crap. And it’s yuck. And it makes me want to go and do something constructive…like paint the kitchen, or build a fence (not that I can build a fence!) because then at least I’d have something to show for my hard work.

    And I don’t have a magic answer. Sometimes I do walk away…but inevitably the voices start up in my head, the stories and characters demand my attention and I end up right back here at the computer.

    Other times I have to force myself, remind myself that while I love writing (just for the sake of it) I also want to create something I can be proud of…something that I can hold up and say “woo-hoo, look what I made. A book!”

    I would say. Stop writing for a moment, take a breath. Find some quiet space in your head and let the story tumble around in there. I find vaccuming, ironing and long walks with the dog particuarly good for this. You will eventually have some ‘aha’ moments, and that little kick of enthusiasm will get you back to the keyboard.

    Oh…and I set myself deadlines. Challenging ones. I want a filthy, dirty draft by the end of November. Then I have 3 months to edit. I want to have 2 completed novels by RWAus next year.

    And I want a 6-figure, 3 book deal by Christmas 2012. πŸ˜€

    Carrots and sticks. I use ’em both.

  4. Madeline – fantastic tips, m’dear. Thank you. My problem is vacillating between finishing and going back and actually rewriting. The rest of the story IS crap. Not the characters though and that’s what’s keeping me writing this. I like my characters. But the chapters I’ve written are all things I’ve forced the characters to do. Kind of like I had to put them in various situations to see what they would do and now I know them, I realise all those situations are wrong and I need to go back and rewrite them all.
    Sometimes it’s not disheartening but exciting because I can ‘see’ the real story under the crap. Other times I just hate the process I have now which involves multiple rewriting.
    And it’s especially difficult to put a lot of time into a story that may not go anywhere.
    Certainly NOT writing is what i need to do today.

    RAch – thanks lovie. I’ve already had a mini-break from writing. And I have a self-imposed contest deadline. Sooooo…

    Anna – love your goals. They sound awesome. I have some too but then I get into the ‘what’s the point? No one will ever get to see these stories anyway…’
    But definitely I need something to kick me back into it. Maybe a long walk is what I need. Or coffee. Or chocolate. Or all of them all at once. πŸ™‚

  5. Jackie
    It really does feel totally utterly pointless sometimes BUT it isn’t.
    Actually no – I guess I can’t say that – maybe it is – maybe neither of us will get published ever but we definitely won’t be published if we give up..

    In terms of any tips – I think you just have to slog through it. I always need to have a draft down just so I know there is 50000 words worth of book even if its drivel. Then I rewrite and rewrite till its as good as I can get it. This involves hair tearing, head banging on desk, general frustration and occasional aha moments.

    The great thing is you can see the gold – so you ‘just’ have to dig deep and find it. You can do it, because you won’t be able to abandon your characters to flounder.

    Other ideas – have you thought about writing something completely different a short story or a childrens book and sending it somewhere else so you have more eggs in different baskets?

    Enjoy the walk, the coffee, the chocolate and throw some alcohol into the mix…

    Nina x

  6. I hear you Jackie! Boy do I hear you! Like you I’m in the writing doldrums at the moment.

    I’m in two minds as to what to do about it tho’. 1. Just carry on and finish the WIP and then send it off as per the norm. Or 2. Just do the requisite 3 chaps and a synopsis and just send that off. Have you thought about this at all? I would be interested in seeing what you think. Caroline x

  7. Nina – your process sounds exactly like mine! Writing anything down just so you’ve got the words on the page and then rewriting over and over. It’s sooooo annoying. But yes, I keep at it because I think my characters are worth it and I really like the idea. And I want to craft a story worthy of them.
    I do have another submission with Carina so that’s another egg. And I’m going to enter a couple of mss into a competition so there’s another one. Perhaps I need to do a few more. πŸ™‚

    Caroline – I think it’s entirely dependent on your process. I am usually the ‘write 3 chapters and synopsis then send’ type of gal. But lately I’ve been coming round to the fact that I really need to finish the whole thing first. I tend to discover my characters and their conflict as I go so often I’ll need to rewrite the beginning due to discoveries I make about the characters once I’ve finished the first draft.
    In fact, that major insight I had into my heroine, that didn’t happen till 3/4s of the way through the first draft so now I have to adjust the beginning to include it. And it’s such a BIG part of her character and makes the story so much stronger that leaving it out of the partial would not be a good idea.

    I guess what I’m saying is that it’s really up to you and how you write. Does that help? No, probably not! πŸ™‚

  8. I’ve got one of those stories I’m thinking of revising. It’s not awful. Individual scenes aren’t terrible. But as a whole it just doesn’t work as well as I’d like. But there’s plenty of doubt filled work to be done.

  9. Jackie, having those moments is quite normal, so don’t feel alone. But losing your way for a moment doesn’t mean your story is bad. As Madeline said, it’s the emotion of writing playing tricks on you. And you’ll get through it, come out the other end, and realise your story deserves to be told.
    And I know that being unpublished does sometimes feel like a wilderness… the waiting, the hoping, the feeling of ‘when will it be my turn’. It took me twenty years to get published and countless rejections, but I kept writing because that’s what I do, that’s what I am. A writer. And we’re made of tough stuff.
    So take a deep breath, remember the all the great things you’ve achieved – the books finished and submitted, the editor feedback, the contest finals and wins.
    And keep writing!

  10. *Hugs* Jackie! I think your writing is awesome and it could be THIS story that gets published and 25 million people read.

    P.S. I’m so excited that you’re entering SYTYCW. By February next year you could be published! xx

  11. Julia – that pretty much sums up my story. Not horrible, not terrible. Just not working the way I want. Sigh.

    Helen – so true. And I do fall prey to the emotion of writing A LOT. I have to say, I find your writing journey a huge inspiration. It’s stories like that that make me keep going. And yes, remembering the successes on the way is something I should do more often. Especially when it feels like everything is bad.

    Lacey – eh, well, not too sure about that. I’d LIKE it to be. πŸ™‚ Hey, how do you know about SYTYCW?? And I WON’T win that. Absolutely certain of it.

Comments are closed.