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Thread: stuck

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin nemesis87's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    South Africa


    I have two babies and can hardly find time to write without being distracted by dirty diapers and bottle making, and my husband wanting attention. So I got my husband to start studying, which keeps him busy, and now find I've got quite some time to write, apaart from the usual waking up at 3am to write a few lines.
    The thing is, with the free time I now have for writing, I type one line and sit staring aat the screen. It sucks to say the least because I know what I want to write, I know how I want to write it, but I just don't do it.
    Does this happen to everyone/anyone now and then or is it just me?

  2. #2
    Behaving SuperModerator
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    Apr 2005
    Hard to say from your short description but it sounds like perfectionism. You want to write that perfect sentence or perfect paragraph. It's similar to an artist facing that pristine clean sheet of paper or canvas.

    Maybe make your self write one page even if it's absolute drivel, even if it's not related to what you intended to write; anything to get yourself started.

  3. #3
    You can't sit with us! missesdash's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    Paris, France
    You should also try outlining your scenes. That way you know what you need to write before you sit down. I outline on the go, writing notes and ideas when they come to me. And then when it's time to actually write, I'll have a rough outline and follow that. I think when you don't have a ton of time, little by little and very organized is the most efficient.

  4. #4
    Merry SSSFFSS! KateSmash's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
    In addition to the above, it sounds like you've gotten used to not writing and have a mental block in place now that the opportunity is there again. So it gets a little overwhelming. It happens to everyone whenever they've been away from something creative for a while.

    So you've got to build back up into it. Start with small goals, and increase it every few days. A timer can really help with this. Set it for 5-10 minutes and do nothing but write for that time. Doesn't matter if it dissolves into stream of consciousness - just write and get your hands and brain used to the activity again. When time is up, walk away. Get up and physically leave your computer. Take a bathroom break, get a snack, whatever. Keep the break short and, without reading what you already wrote, do another 5-10 minutes. Either add more rounds in which you do this or 5 minutes to your timer every/every other day. Your creative floodgates should rush open in a week or two.

  5. #5
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin nemesis87's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    South Africa
    I also do the outlining thing. I think I might be bored with my wip.
    Is it possible to love what you're writing but being distracted by another idea?

    Thanks for the replies, I'll take it all into concideration

  6. #6
    Ustom Ser Itle Dgullen's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
    Near London, UK
    I think KateSmash has some good ideas and observations. I find the timer very useful when I'm finding it hard to concentrate.

    Outlining & brainstorming can help too, but as Kate says, it might just be you need to get used to the idea. Words written per day can help too - you'll want to try and beat your last record, and also find what is realistic as a goal The more you do, the more you can do, as your writing muscles get some exercise.

    You're not alone!

  7. #7
    :) bethany's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Room two-hundred-something on the first floor
    Find something you want to write so badly that you can't stop. Something that won't get of your head, that you have to get on paper.

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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    I know what you mean, it has happened to me, but it's something you have to get over and only you can do it.

    Try oulining, bullet-pointing, brainstorming, free-writing... anything that makes you write in that time you have. You need to find a way to get yourself into the mindset that when you sit down to write at that time it is your writing time and your opportunity to work.

    For me, thinking of writing as a job helps me to write. I work part-time and I've gone part time so that I have time to write. Going part-time has meant that we have less money and it's a sacrifice I've decided to make in order to give me the time to write. It's a lot of pressure and I could end up sitting every morning looking at the screen wondering why I've given up all that money - but I don't. I seize that time and write as much as I can. I have good days and bad days but the books get written in decent time.

    For other people thinking of writing as being like work puts them off. They think of it as a hobby and that takes the pressure off.

    You could try things like to get you going, or google for some idea generators. This is the best month ever to get writing it's NaNoWriMo! Browse their forums and see how other people get motivated.

    Good luck with it!

  9. #9
    Author, Designer, Imaginative Being aibrean's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Try not to think as much about what you want to write when you get down to actually putting "pen to paper". In all the time you have leading up to your free time, start planning in your head. Think of the story and where you'd want it to go. In other words, use your momma time to brainstorm I try and hash out my stories when I'm dozing off to bed.

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  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW SheilaJG's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
    Northern California
    I don't know anyone who hasn't felt stuck at some time or another. Even Stephen King gets stuck, if only for a minute:

    What works for me is doing the fun scenes. Jump around in your WIP and write the ending, or any scene that seems exciting. I find when I do that it opens me up to do other scenes. Planning ahead is a great idea, too, like aibrean suggested. I often go to bed thinking about what I'm going to write next.

    Good luck!

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  11. #11
    we're gonna make it out of the fire The_Ink_Goddess's Avatar
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    Jul 2009
    Also don't worry about order. An outline is good for this, but one thing that used to hold me back was thinking that I had to begin at the beginning and carry on in a straight line from there. I got so much better when I realised that I could outline the scenes so I knew where I was going and then I could jump around all over the place and write the scene that was in my head, rather than the one that followed from what I'd just written.

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  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW Windcutter's Avatar
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    May 2011
    What works for me during such periods is writing something easy. Something you are good at. It can be a particular wip, or a style, or a format (for example, a novella instead of a large novel), maybe a genre (just recently a person said it took her a long time to write fantasy but when she sat down to write a contemporary YA, she breezed through it in a few weeks.) Something that's not a challenge, something that doesn't push the inner perfectionist to run out fully armed and ready to destroy every page.

  13. #13
    I find ur lack of faith disturbing mellymel's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
    I'm not sure, but if you find me, for the love of God, please let me know!
    Great suggestions so far. Just thought I'd throw out where most of my mental blocks come from. Whenever I feel "stuck" and like I can't get the sentence to sound how I want or can't decide which direction to take the scene in or just feel paralyzed by the words I want to put down there are two things that are usually the cause or help. 1. Just stepping away for a couple of days and reading or catching up on television and just thinking about the scene in between (especially while in the shower and driving) and then re-approaching it with fresh eyes. 2. If that is still not working, then I usually come to the conclusion that the scene itself is just not working and that I'm trying to force something that doesn't want to be. So, as hard as it is, I scrap the entire scene and start again. 90% of the time I get stuck it's because the scene isn't working but I'm stubborn and keep thinking I can make it work. I get so mad at myself for wasting so much time! lol

    I think it is possible you are also putting a lot of pressure on yourself. It's like OMG this is my time to write. MY ONLY TIME TO WRITE THE WHOLE DAY I. MUST. GET. WORDS. DOWN. aaaarggggghhhghgh It's really hard to find that "me" time when you have kids (especially young ones/babies) and it's hard to even focus because even when want to write, your mind is thinking about the million and one other things that need to get done for everyone else.

    Hang in there. I've been through it many times. Still go through it now. It's just a phase that many writers go through but you will come out of it.

    ETA: for the record, I'm not an outliner. I SUCK at outlines. Don't even know how to make a proper one so that as a solution for me would never work, but if outlines are something you can do, I'm sure it could be very helpful. I really need to take a course or read up on how to make good writing outlines. I've always wanted to learn, but I'm still traumatized from how much difficulty I had with them in elementary and junior high.
    "The good thing about telling the truth is that there's nothing to remember."--John Ford Noonan (playwright)
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  14. #14
    Stay in and write. Erin Latimer's Avatar
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    Sep 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    I have the same problem. It's easy to get distracted or discouraged if you don't have a clear idea of exactly what to write next. (At least, I find that's my problem). I'll echo the suggestion to outline. What I end up doing now, before sitting down each time, is outline the entire chapter, then outline the first thing I'm going to write, if necessary, in extreme detail. If lack of focus is your problem, that's the best advice I can give. If it's something different, like perfectionism, you just have to push down the urge and bang out that first draft. "Perfection" can come later.
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  15. #15
    I read good advice recently re: blocks:

    during these "droughts", just write freely (even awful, awful stuff) as a page with words is better than an empty page. An empty page may lead to more empty pages (as you stagnate) while the words you did write may lead to openings in your story. You may even find gems amongst the drivel.

    Basically, this advice is geared to making writing a consistent habit - which is apparently one of the secrets to success in this field of ours.

    I'm awful at consistent writing. I wait for inspiration. Ha.

  16. #16
    Twitchy Niiicola's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    New England
    Oh, lady, I feel your pain. I have a 5-month-old and a two-year-old, and it's so hard to find time, especially when you can't depend on any kind of consistent schedule during the day. It's really a game of getting into the right headspace, which is just crazy hard in your situation. Hats off to you for even attempting it with two babies!

    As somebody mentioned above, mindless mommy time can be great for planning your scenes. Like when you're feeding the kids or rocking them to sleep or taking them for a walk -- something that feels totally brainless -- you can just zone out and figure out what your next scene will be. That way, you can psych yourself up for it and be ready to roll when free time opens up.

    Once you start writing, don't worry about how you say it, just write it as messily and with as many words as you need to. Once you get some momentum, the scene will come together and you can go back and fix it later. Often, I find that I need to get a bunch of scenes flowing together before I really have a sense of where things are going. And I often completely rewrite how I get there, but it's the getting there that matters.

    Hang in there. It will get easier. You just need to figure out a new process. And don't be so hard on yourself. Do what you can for now and try to enjoy yourself, both with the babies and with your writing.

  17. #17
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin tanyadavies's Avatar
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    Sep 2012
    I too have struggled with this - and still do - though it is always changing. I think you can reach a point where your alone time is sooo precious that you literally cannot do anything in that time. As though your brain can't comprehend what it has before it. I find I write much better when my children are around me; when the house is empty I feel lost and panicked about what to do...write? Meet a friend? Make a phone call? Clean the fridge out? Take a walk? And often end up watching something mindless and then feeling rather ashamed. All types of guilt backed up there!
    I think all the advice above is gold - and hope you find some things that help.
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  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW JKRowley's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Maybe getting away from the house would help. When my oldest son was a baby, I would go to a coffeeshop on Wednesday nights for a couple hours. It fueled me up enough to write during naptime the rest of the week.

    Are you in a critique group? Sometimes a deadline can force you to put words on the page.

    Hang in there. My babies are big kids now. They don't wake me up at 3 am anymore (unless they are trying to sneak in Xbox time), but they don't go to bed at 8 pm either. I miss the house being quiet.
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  19. #19
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin pattycat's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    Chicago, IL
    I recommend reading Laini Taylor's essays on writing --

    She writes about her perfectionism and how to get "unstuck" as well as her writing process from beginning to end. I tried her freewriting/brainstorming exercise this morning and came out with three strong ideas to develop into outlines.

    One line from her essays... "When a project gets hard, the "hard" feeling often translated as "boring." We get bored with our own work, and we need the freshness and excitement of a new idea, so we start a new story. BAD writer! BAD! Stop it. You'll never finish anything that way."

  20. #20
    figuring it all out
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    Nov 2012
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    I go with Niiicola on this one. Free-range it. Just write in the general direction you want to go, writing off the top of your head - or more correctly, perhaps, from the head of your character POV. Come back and review it after a period when you have moved your story on. This way your story will sometimes take off in a completely new direction. You mull over what you've written when you're walking the dog. Don't expect perfection from a first draft.

  21. #21
    Cadence of Her Last Breath Ms_Sassypants's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    In your imaginary world
    I totally feel your pain. Same here. Everytime I can finally sit on that chair and write, I can't... I feel an immense pressure to churn out perfect words, and when the words on the screen don't match the perfection I have in my mind, I get very frustrated (and sleepy, for some reason?)

    I think it's brain fatigue. I need a holiday, and a break from writing. You probably need some peace too. Good luck!


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