PDA

View Full Version : Getting Started Again



VGrossack
05-30-2008, 12:09 PM
Two weeks ago my co author and I sent off our revised ms to our agent. Itís now in her hands. The novel has occupied much of my heart and soul for the last 18 months. Especially from mid March through mid May this year I was practically high, with an amazing creative buzz.

Iíve taken a break (and taken care of some necessary things, such as paperwork, vacuuming, catching up on sleep, etc) and now itís time to get moving on the next novel. Now, I donít believe in succumbing to writerís block and Iím not wallowing in self-sympathy, but it is hard to go from the tinkering and polishing stage (where everything that my collaborator and I have written seems wonderful) to the groping, get something down on paper stage (when all my words seem to s*ck and I donít know if Iím going to keep a scene or not).

So, Iím curious: do any of you have tips and tricks that you use to get started again? To make the process of switching from one stage to another any easier?

Maryn
05-30-2008, 04:49 PM
The standard for me is that I have permission to write utter crap. Get the idea down in written form, knowing it sucks mightily, because then I at least have something to rewrite later, when a draft is complete, hideous though it may be.

Maryn, whose first drafts are craptacular

nevada
05-30-2008, 06:00 PM
I learned in skills class that Motivation Follows Action. In other words, you have to start doing something before you want to do it. Very often people sit around waiting for motivation to strike before they do something they're dragging their feet on. But if you start, even with something as small as making up character names, it's like the spark to tinder. soon you'll find yourself coming up with character traits for those names. Conflicts that'll test the characters beyond their capacity, and before you know it, you're motivated and you're outlining, or however your process works.

inkkognito
05-30-2008, 06:34 PM
The standard for me is that I have permission to write utter crap. Get the idea down in written form, knowing it sucks mightily, because then I at least have something to rewrite later, when a draft is complete, hideous though it may be.
I think this is great advice. I do non-fiction articles but do a version of the same thing. I'll take an idea and bang something out even if it's not coming together the way I want it to. I might go back to it, polish it, and send it out. I might just let it sit because I get inspired to do a topic that flows. But a positive side effect is that when I'm stuck and don't even have an idea, I go back to one of those crappy little "starts" and rewrite it. Often it actually turns into something marketable.

scope
05-30-2008, 06:37 PM
Sorry, I don't have any tricks or tips. Such is the life of a writer. Are you sure you took enough of a breather? I take a month or two between books since I that time to clear my head. But we all differ.

VGrossack
05-30-2008, 08:03 PM
Well, nevada, I have taken your suggestion that motivation follows action (which I have heard/applied before) and so I wrote 1000+ words today anyway. And, to everyone else, these first words are utter cr*p!

Scope, in a way it's already been six weeks since we finished. We sent our ms to our agent on 4/14 and she got back to us on 4/28 with the request for changes. We spent the next 2.5 weeks revising to her suggestions as well as making minor changes because of comments and questions due to our beta readers. So in a way it has been done a little longer than 2 weeks. Besides, I expect to have to go through the cr*ppy first draft stage at some point - you all are assuring me there's not much to do to get around it - so I might as well get it over with.

Phaeal
05-30-2008, 09:22 PM
Relax and do a lot of free-writing through ideas for your next piece. Eventually these will reach a critical mass, ignite, and you'll get excited again.

nevada
05-30-2008, 09:40 PM
If a shitty first draft was good enough for Hemingway, it's good enough for me.

scope
05-31-2008, 08:31 AM
It sounds like the first manuscript and the work you sent out are very much occupying and perhaps cluttering your thoughts. It also sounds as if you aren't ready to seriously address your next work--two weeks isn't a very long time. I think you need more mental distance from your first work before embarking on another. Why not spend a few more weeks doing some research, jotting down ideas as they come to you for the second work, or whatever else you can think of. Instead of jumping into the second work, ease into it at a time that's appropriate for you. To force the issue and produce crap is to some writers second nature and they can work through it. To others it can spell doom. Only you know where you fit.

VGrossack
05-31-2008, 09:49 AM
It sounds like the first manuscript and the work you sent out are very much occupying and perhaps cluttering your thoughts. It also sounds as if you aren't ready to seriously address your next work--two weeks isn't a very long time. I think you need more mental distance from your first work before embarking on another. Why not spend a few more weeks doing some research, jotting down ideas as they come to you for the second work, or whatever else you can think of. Instead of jumping into the second work, ease into it at a time that's appropriate for you. To force the issue and produce crap is to some writers second nature and they can work through it. To others it can spell doom. Only you know where you fit.

Well, Scope, you're right; I do know where I fit. Sitting around and waiting for inspiration is not right for me (now that I'm over the exhaustion stage). Crap isn't doom; I've worked through it before.

Besides, the new work is related to the last work, so "distancing" is not required, perhaps not even appropriate.

Thanks for everyone's advice!

JoNightshade
05-31-2008, 10:03 AM
I'm at this point right now, too. I emailed my manuscript to my agent last night, and now I'm free!

I don't really look at this as a hurdle or an obstacle... it's an opportunity! Right now, I get to choose which of my 3 or 4 ideas to spend the next 9 months of my life on. Which baby gets to be born next? It's kinda cool.

And for me, first draft is always the most fun. It's when you get to write anything you want, any way you want - just follow the story.

Hacking off the rough edges comes later. :)

VGrossack
05-31-2008, 05:32 PM
Congratulations, JoNightshade, on getting to the end of a manuscript!

As for me, I don't exactly have a choice about which book comes next. My co author and my agent are expecting, well, the next book in the series and so I think I'd better work on that. And I am working on that. But I like your attitude a lot!

You know what was really helpful, and started the juices flowing? For the idea generation, not for the writing, but the ideas need to come first. My husband and I drove for what must have been about nine hours on Sunday. Driving long distances is environmentally unfriendly, and so very dull, that it's a great time to cogitate on the plot.

Kalyke
05-31-2008, 06:53 PM
I would need to remind myself that this is a project- by - project business, not a business where you do the same thing every day, day in and day out, but one where you move a little forward in the schedule once a "phase" is done. This is true in film, architecture, and other arts as well. With this in mind, it is somewhat hard to "let go" of a project that has lasted over a year. It gets to be a routine. But in a sense, it is just one of your "products," and you need to forget about it and show the same enthusiasm for the next project on your list.

Each project has a life-cycle. I think by breaking down the phases of the life cycle, and looking at them separately, you begin to appreciate your project management skills. I sincerely think that project management is necessary to all "professional" arts and should be taken seriously.

CBumpkin
05-31-2008, 08:11 PM
If I have another idea ready to go, I jump right into it. If I don't have one, I'll take a week to allow myself to ponder new ideas and write something else in the meantime. Do some freelancing or flesh out an idea into a short story to see if you have something.

There are no rules. I don't believe in "real writers do this and that." Do what you need to do.

VGrossack
06-01-2008, 08:31 AM
Each project has a life-cycle. I think by breaking down the phases of the life cycle, and looking at them separately, you begin to appreciate your project management skills. I sincerely think that project management is necessary to all "professional" arts and should be taken seriously.

Oh, I agree! Especially as I have a co author and we have both managed projects in the corporate environment. We use spreadsheets for tracking the scenes in each chapter and the timelines of all our characters. But it's a good reminder in the awkward groping stage (and as I am applying myself to the current tasks, they are quickly feeling less horrible).

Kalyke
06-07-2008, 09:53 AM
Oh, I agree! Especially as I have a co author and we have both managed projects in the corporate environment. We use spreadsheets for tracking the scenes in each chapter and the timelines of all our characters. But it's a good reminder in the awkward groping stage (and as I am applying myself to the current tasks, they are quickly feeling less horrible).

Thanks for the vote of confidence! But it is all about the "project," and the fact that the writer is the planner of all stages and aspects. I think a lot of the -- I guess younger or less familiar writers here who are just getting started kind of forget that there is no one down the line to help out.

In film, you hire someone to do the pre-vis, effects, costumes, someone to do the sets, the art makeup, and acting, as well as script writing, camera work, extras and catering. The Writer needs to do the directing and the producing, plus every other job, and there is less than a 5% chance that you will even be published. -- Wow! The odds say don't do it.

I never want to put anyone down here. This is a very tough field. You must have resilience, and a thick skin, and courage, and tenacity. Anyone who is here will learn shortly what it takes.

dgiharris
06-07-2008, 10:07 AM
Maybe try writing a couple of short stories to clear the chamber sort to speak.

Something that isn't too taxing, will take you a week or so to write, polish off, and send off for shits and giggles. Of course, during this time you're also researching your next idea.


Or if you have another creative interest or area to occupy your mind while you recharge and regroup. Like painting or cooking or something.

anyways, just a thought.

Since i've yet to write a complete book, yours is a problem i haven't had yet

Mel...