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Old 11-17-2012, 02:05 AM   #1
DavidBrett
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A Crisis of Faith...

Last night I went to bed with the full intention of revising my novel. And then I woke up this morning and had a crushing feeling of 'Why Bother?'

All of a sudden I can't shake the feeling that the best I'd be doing with my time is - pardon my term - polishing a turd: it's boring, basic, I feel I'm always telling (even when I'm not), the characters are flat, the dialogue weak... I could go on and on.

Now, I know they say that every writer suffers from their inner-critic, but I've never had these kinda thoughts before; sure, I think my writing is 'meh' most times, and am pleasantly surprised when people like it. But never anything like this...

What's worse, I still have those agents waiting to get a hold of it. I'm at the end of my rope, and need advice. What does everyone else do when they feel like this?

Thanks,

Dave
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Old 11-17-2012, 03:14 AM   #2
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Take some time away from the MS, even if it's just a few days, a week, or several weeks. I've had these feelings before, and they can be defeating and overwhelming. Give yourself some time to breathe -- maybe read a good book or write a few stories that have no intention of going anywhere. Recharge, start again.

:-)

Best of wishes. And no worries -- we've ALL been there. That inner critic never goes away, either; not with book deals or publications or any of that. That's the bad news. The good news is, our inner critic also keeps us on our toes. And I've never met a great writer who actually thought they were great. Most writers I know who never doubt themselves aren't very good. That's the truth.
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Old 11-17-2012, 04:24 AM   #3
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Oh, David, I'm sorry you're struggling right now. Been there, done that. I'm not trying to make light of it because I know it can be a depressing situation when you begin to doubt your abilities.

When you hear that voice telling you it isn't worth it - it's your own voice, isn't it? What are other voices saying? That your writing is good, that they want to see more of it, that you have a talent. Listen to those voices.

And maybe you do need to take a break - I'm not sure, some people need to just keep writing and get past this point. Depends on the individual. But a nice run or quick walk when you're feeling doubtful might rejuvenate your thinking processes. Again, everyone's different.

Hang in there, and if you need more encouragement, or a kick in the pants (just kidding) let me know and I'm there. I love to browbeat, I mean, encourage other writers when I'm making no progress myself.
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Old 11-17-2012, 04:40 AM   #4
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I think this is a completely normal feeling to have when you are revising. You've read and re-read your story so many times, all the joy you felt writing it is gone. But think about it - if you took your favorite author and read his/her work 50 times, you would eventually start to think it was boring, right? Well, maybe not, but do you see my point?

Your characters certainly aren't flat, and your story is neither boring or basic. I am slapping you in the face now - slap! Now, snap out of it! Did that help? Here's some good advice that will let you approach revisions methodically, and not get bogged down in self-doubt, etc:

http://hollylisle.com/how-to-revise-a-novel/

Don't give up, you can do it!
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Old 11-17-2012, 05:28 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin Kelly View Post
Best of wishes. And no worries -- we've ALL been there. That inner critic never goes away, either; not with book deals or publications or any of that. That's the bad news. The good news is, our inner critic also keeps us on our toes. And I've never met a great writer who actually thought they were great. Most writers I know who never doubt themselves aren't very good. That's the truth.
I know it never goes away - it's wormed its way in there good and deep, charging its megaphone every so often to down out all logic and rationality. I guess I've just gotta wait for the batteries to drain again.

But if what you say is true, then at times I must REALLY be the most unknowingly awesome writer EVER. Hmm... Now that'd a thought.

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Originally Posted by sissybaby View Post
When you hear that voice telling you it isn't worth it - it's your own voice, isn't it? What are other voices saying? That your writing is good, that they want to see more of it, that you have a talent. Listen to those voices.
Yep, it's mine alright - man I hate my stupid voice so much sometimes...! The other voices? Well, regarding EF I only know two people who've read the first draft: Sheila, and Laura's son. And you're right; they're both really positive about it, and Laura's son is eager to read the second one... Neither of which would be if my voice was right. So I guess you have something, there!

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Originally Posted by sissybaby View Post
And maybe you do need to take a break - I'm not sure, some people need to just keep writing and get past this point. Depends on the individual. But a nice run or quick walk when you're feeling doubtful might rejuvenate your thinking processes. Again, everyone's different.

Hang in there, and if you need more encouragement, or a kick in the pants (just kidding) let me know and I'm there. I love to browbeat, I mean, encourage other writers when I'm making no process myself.
It's past midnight here, so no runs or walks for this dozy troll. But thanks for the kind words and advice!

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Originally Posted by SheilaJG View Post
I think this is a completely normal feeling to have when you are revising. You've read and re-read your story so many times, all the joy you felt writing it is gone. But think about it - if you took your favorite author and read his/her work 50 times, you would eventually start to think it was boring, right? Well, maybe not, but do you see my point?

I think I do: it's all very well planning the series' future and imagining the success, but it gets a bit grating to go over the MS again and again and again. But, I guess that's all part and parcel of the Road to Authortown.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SheilaJG View Post
Your characters certainly aren't flat, and your story is neither boring or basic. I am slapping you in the face now - slap! Now, snap out of it! Did that help? Here's some good advice that will let you approach revisions methodically, and not get bogged down in self-doubt, etc:

http://hollylisle.com/how-to-revise-a-novel/

Don't give up, you can do it!
Heh, I shoulda known one of my betas would have a clearer view/opinion on the book than my current negative mindstate. Thanks, Sheila! I don't usually appreciate being slapped, but I guess I needed it. I also guess that if it WAS basic, agents wouldn't be so excited by the 'X-Files for kids' pitch. And revision can only make it better, right?

Thanks again all - this weekend is going to be a royal write-a-palooza!

Dave
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Authors warn me writing children's books is a lot of work - signings, school events, literary festivals, a blog, etc. I always reply "I WANT THAT!"

I don't claim to be a professional (yet). I just try and help others when and where I can.

Follow me @symplesymon
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:15 AM   #6
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You did the right thing--you reached out to people who understand the feeling. We've all been there--and it does pass. Work through it, if you can, and give yourself permission to wallow in lethargy and self-pity if you need to. Then pick yourself up and get back to work on whatever you feel inspired to do. Things will get easier after a while.
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Old 12-05-2012, 02:59 AM   #7
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Right there with you Dave. I'm in the "this really sucks, doesn't it?" phase. I'm glad to read the responses you got.

I think taking a little break is good. I read the ending to the book I'm currently editing, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the ending.

I'm so sick of my work right now. And I think I just plain suck and that I'm wasting my time.

I also think it is hard when people know you are writing and think you should be done already. Oh, should have given up by now.

I'm currently in the 'who the hell am I to try and write a book?' and this is my second one. The road ahead seems long and impossible.

Take care and for what it's worth, my kid loved your story.

Pity party over, get back to work!

My dh must be kind of tired of my crisis of faith because when I said 'I suck, I can't do this' he said 'so quit'. I was kind of shocked and said, 'I don't want to.' Answer 'so don't. quit complaining and doubting and just do it.'

He is normally very supportive.
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:58 AM   #8
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Old 12-05-2012, 09:15 AM   #9
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It's hard to know what to say, some people need to take a break, others need to slog through. But it's good knowing that this is normal to feel this, and if you never do, you're probably kidding yourself about your writing!

Having said that, I don't know that you ever feel really 'finished' with a book. There is always more that could be done. The trick is knowing when to say it's time to stop.

As for me, when I feel like this I click around distracting myself with all sorts of other things on the computer, then keep returning to the manuscript. If it makes me feel sick to look at it, I click off and do something else. At some point, when I return to the manuscript, I feel ready to make a revision of some sort, then one thing usually leads to another.

I save often as Book Title Revision1, Book Title Revision2, then 3, 4, 5 etc. Often I put in a note in the title to tell me what exactly I'd done at that stage, so it might be Title Rearranged Chapters 3/4 or whatever makes sense to me.

This gives me the feeling that the revisions aren't permanent. I can always return to a previous version if I don't like how it's turning out.

My current book has three major versions saved, one with girl MC, one with shared pov, and one with boy MC, which turns out to be the one I'm querying. But each book has many versions. Somehow, having them all there, saved, is like a security blanket, knowing that nothing is lost if I change my mind.

Just playing around in this way helps me keep in mind that it is still a work in progress, and that it can be changed and improved, and that all the different versions have their own worth.

Another thing if I'm really feeling unsure is to get someone else to read, someone who hasn't read it before. It doesn't have to be a great beta, just someone who'll be honest. I've made some of my best revisions after surprising feedback, plus, it's often given me the spark to get back into the fray.

This is just how I work, everyone is different. But, HTH, and hang in there. You can do it!
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