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Enlightened
08-01-2018, 07:57 AM
It's easy to Google "confidence building ideas" and get a nice list of ways to build one's confidence. I'm sure motivation is similarly easy to find. Regardless, I'd like to know what, specifically, writers do to help stay confident and help stay motivated. For me, long-term confidence building is non-existent (whereby I rely on motivation to get me through the long-term issues). If you have any strategies you care to share, please do so.

My strategies for staying:

Confident: Meeting/surpassing my expectations (short-term only). Celebrate completed work; e.g. self-congratulatory comments (short-term only). These are forgotten long term.

Motivated: Completing challenges I set for myself. Alternating tasks of the project (keep it fresh) between days, so I do not burn out.

I'm a Type-A workaholic. I create my own carrot (motivation) and go. I challenge myself, and that is usually enough to get me started (wanting to complete the challenge). Writing a novel is no different, but the longer-than-expected duration is forcing me to question my confidence. I finish what I start (strong commitment), and I am in it for the long haul. Regardless -- in the last two paragraphs of this post, I explain a confidence issue I had the other day -- it's rough when one questions himself. I know all writers get this, but it's ridiculous at times.

For now, I have expectations and goals. My expectations are very realistic (learn how to write a book, write my first book, and so forth). My goals are doable, but are nothing I expect (e.g. finding and agent and getting published).

The following got me thinking about my motivations, and a big reason why I started this thread. Only read if interested; nothing germane to the thread otherwise. For me, I will complete an exact calendar year since I started learning how to write novels and did a lot of research. When I started, I thought it would take me 6 months, 8 max, to start writing. I have 13 days left till I finish my first year of my project. I believe I am WAY better off than where I wanted to start writing, and that will help me write (e.g. more confidence and less anxiety). Yesterday, I ended my 50th week since starting, and I got a 30 minute stint of: "Wow, WTF am I doing! I haven't even started writing in 50 weeks."

Because I am learning, I opted to go all out. I'm attempting something quite lofty. I know it is recommended not to start so big, but this is how I like learning new things (i.e. throw 5 or 6, 1000-piece puzzles out into a big pile and form the puzzles). Jumping between tasks (e.g. sorting puzzle pieces into new piles, piecing some of them together, and so forth) is one thing that keeps the work fresh.

Helix
08-01-2018, 08:38 AM
You have to start writing. All the motivational tips in the world won't help unless you start writing.

shortstorymachinist
08-01-2018, 08:54 AM
Hey Enlightened. I see you like Brandon Sanderson, or you've at least seen some of his writing courses. He talks a bit about "world building disease", where a writer spends hours and hours developing a world for a story they never get around to writing. From what I can see, this is where you're at.

Helix is right: Sometimes you just gotta put your butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard, and go. If you're striving to create the perfect novel on the first attempt, I don't think there will ever be enough motivation, because somewhere inside you have to know it's not a reasonable goal. On Writing Excuses they talk about how every writer has some number of practice words in them, words they have to get through like a novice pianist has to get through ugly scales. If you never start practicing, you'll never start improving.

That's one way I stay motivated: Everything, even work I don't like in the end, is practice.

Enlightened
08-01-2018, 09:22 AM
Hey Enlightened. I see you like Brandon Sanderson, or you've at least seen some of his writing courses. He talks a bit about "world building disease", where a writer spends hours and hours developing a world for a story they never get around to writing. From what I can see, this is where you're at.

For my writing, I work backwards. It improves the quality of my creative work. For example, I created plot and pinch points from spells/counter-spells and potions I created. As another example, I created subplots from characters I generated before working on writing. Knowing their quirks and motivations help, tremendously, with this element. My sitting down and writing without these, and other, elements first constructed is detrimental for me.

My locations are ready. My cast of characters are ready for me to start. I will add or change as needed. My spells and potions will be finished in a few more days. These elements help me guide my story; a task I'd have a terrible time doing without them. This is how I work.

For the majority of my past year, it was spent learning how to write (not just a novel, but a series). I am strong with academic, business, and journalistic writing, but started from ground zero with novel writing. I had to play a lot of catch up. In other words, it was not spent "world building." I also had to learn the business, to some extent; i.e. how to find agents, what documents I need to work (query, synopsis, and so forth). There were many other things I had to learn. I'm still learning.

I'd have to answer no; the majority of my year was spent on many things and world building was not it. I did do a lot of research and work on my book (that is deemed world building), but that is just part of the work. Working it to a series is a different animal than just one book.

It's easy to say BIC, start writing. However, like people new to computers and the Internet (as I am new to writing a book), I don't want my issue to be a PICNIC problem (problem in chair, not in computer.... Or, in my case, problem with my lack of preparation/learning and not a problem with anything else).

Thanks for offering a suggestion about staying motivated. Cheers.

I thought this thread would be nice for any writers looking for ideas to stay motivated and self-confident.

Anyone else?

Tocotin
08-01-2018, 09:29 AM
Hello Enlightened,

I admire your determination to learn as much as you can about the business of writing. You are approaching it in a very methodical way, so my experience probably wonít help you much, but I can tell you that my only motivation that I like writing and canít imagine my life without it. There are days when I donít write, but I always go back. Itís what Iíve always been doing, it feels good, it feels natural, it feels right. Itís similar to eating potatoes for me, maybe, only 100x stronger.

(I grew up with people who tried to actively discourage me from writing. Hiding my notebooks from them was good for motivation too.)

Self-confidence Ė well, if you donít have it from the start, itís not something you will be able to generate by yourself now, if you havenít written anything yet. The best thing is to start writing and show the writing to the readers. Nothing beats praise from people who donít know you and have no reason to spare your delicate feelings. You will have to work very hard for it, but itís worth it.

I wish you the best of luck.

cornflake
08-01-2018, 09:31 AM
No offense, but you haven't even begun learning to write.

I think motivation is personal -- depends on a person's goals, personality, etc.

Enlightened
08-01-2018, 09:57 AM
Hello Enlightened,

I admire your determination to learn as much as you can about the business of writing. You are approaching it in a very methodical way, so my experience probably won’t help you much, but I can tell you that my only motivation that I like writing and can’t imagine my life without it. There are days when I don’t write, but I always go back. It’s what I’ve always been doing, it feels good, it feels natural, it feels right. It’s similar to eating potatoes for me, maybe, only 100x stronger.

(I grew up with people who tried to actively discourage me from writing. Hiding my notebooks from them was good for motivation too.)

Self-confidence – well, if you don’t have it from the start, it’s not something you will be able to generate by yourself now, if you haven’t written anything yet. The best thing is to start writing and show the writing to the readers. Nothing beats praise from people who don’t know you and have no reason to spare your delicate feelings. You will have to work very hard for it, but it’s worth it.

I wish you the best of luck.

Splendid post; thank you!

Enlightened
08-01-2018, 10:00 AM
No offense, but you haven't even begun learning to write.

I think motivation is personal -- depends on a person's goals, personality, etc.

Coming from my background, I know I learned a lot (of novel writing, from where I started). I know I cannot say I learned anything, tangible, till I start writing.

Thanks for the motivation insight. I agree.

neandermagnon
08-01-2018, 10:31 AM
For the majority of my past year, it was spent learning how to write (not just a novel, but a series). I am strong with academic, business, and journalistic writing, but started from ground zero with novel writing. I had to play a lot of catch up.

You're not learning to write if you're not doing the actual writing though. It's like if someone wants to learn to drive so they spend a year memorising the Highway Code (or whatever the USA equivalent is) and car manuals that tell you how to change the gears and where the different buttons are on the dashboard and stuff, without actually ever getting into a car. Yeah, it's useful to know some stuff before you start (but not essential) but you're still a beginner when you get in the car and start trying to actually drive. You can't learn clutch control or road sense out of a book.

So why delay starting writing for stuff that you can just as easily learn as you go along and probably will get more out of when you're also getting the actual writing experience?

The things that made me learn the most about writing are: 1. re-reading what I'd written, 2. editing what I'd written after re-reading it, 3. reading lots and lots and lots of books - fiction books, not "how to" books, 4. critiquing other writers and 5. getting my work critiqued by other writers. The only ones of those you can do without having already started to write are 3 and 4. But you get a lot more out of 4 if you have already started to write, because you can take your critiquing skills that you're developing back to your own writing and do a much better job of revising and editing your own work. And you get more benefit out of 3 after you've started writing.


It's easy to say BIC, start writing. However, like people new to computers and the Internet (as I am new to writing a book), I don't want my issue to be a PICNIC problem (problem in chair, not in computer.... Or, in my case, problem with my lack of preparation/learning and not a problem with anything else).

I've never in my life critiqued anything by anyone and thought that lack of preparation/learning in advance was the issue. Never. Lack of re-reading and revising, yes, that's frequently an issue. Lack of experience is also an issue. You can't get experience without writing, just like you can't learn clutch control without getting in a car and using the clutch and changing gears (and crunching the gearbox a fair few times as well). You also can't re-read, revise and edit what you haven't written.

Even in a fantasy or spec fic novel, if the worldbuilding isn't strong enough, I wouldn't put that down to a lack of preparation. You can fix worldbuilding issues while the novel's in progress or even after it's finished. Generally, it's just a matter of adding in more detail. The plot and characters remain the same.

You know you can go back and revise, edit and rewrite as much as you like or need to? You don't have to get it all right in the first draft. Some very experienced writers might be able to do that, but only because of all the experience they've got, and/or because the write the whole thing very carefully, planning, revising and editing as they go. But no-one gets a medal for doing that and all readers see is the finished product and they don't care or even spare a single thought to how many drafts/edits/rewrites it took to get there.

be frank
08-01-2018, 10:35 AM
I'm just gonna leave this here:


https://s22.postimg.cc/yuddxtx1t/writing_procrastination.jpg

neandermagnon
08-01-2018, 10:39 AM
Also, to quote Stephen King "the hardest part is just before you start"

And also the best way to get over any anxiety about starting is "sod it, I can change it later if it doesn't work". Once you start and build up momentum and you get going with telling the story, you can go back later and edit anything that's not working.

Enlightened
08-01-2018, 11:15 AM
So why delay starting writing for stuff that you can just as easily learn as you go along and probably will get more out of when you're also getting the actual writing experience?

I wouldn't write a book then plan a series from it. Instead, I'd plan the series (big elements only), and outline my book one after. I'd do this, so I get enough in (book one), so everything that happens later is not criticized as something that should be added to book one if I forgot it.

If I was attempting one book, absolutely. As I noted, I like to start big and learn how to manage it properly. I planned more than 5 books. Concept evolution is important. Where did Character X get his behavior issues from? What major trials and tribulations do I need my MCs to face to get to their ultimate relationship outcomes with one another (at the end of the series)? I need to think of major issues, to address in later books; in as much as which are most important to address in book one.

If I write and sell book one, and make omission mistakes, no amount of rewrites/revisions will save the later books.

I like to challenge myself by starting big. If I fail, it is my first attempt. I expect to write a book one. If it fails, it fails. I know, this is highly advised against. It is how I learn nuances I cannot doing a standalone book. I like many subplots, large casts, large spell inventory, and so forth. These help me stay motivated/interested, long run. I am highly methodical in my approach to projects. I chatted with a person on the AW IRC channel, months ago. This individual told me their WIP was written 9 times, with numerous rewrites. If I was not methodical, my work would be similar, I'd imagine. I cannot work like that.

Not sure why this thread turned into a learning how to write thread, but good information though.

Self-confidence and motivation techniques are what I think new writers, including myself, would love to know.

MaeZe
08-01-2018, 11:16 AM
My humble opinion, take it with the appropriate amount of salt: Too much planning, not enough starting.

I'm motivated because I believe in the story I'm writing. I've learned how to write as I go and I started from scratch as far as fiction goes. All that planning isn't going to help if you don't get some chapters down and get some feedback on your writing.

I believe I am proficient enough now with a whole lot of editing. I can't just pour out finished prose but once I get the story on paper, I can see all the things I need to fix. That's why you need to start writing.

I'm also motivated because my son keeps telling me to finish already. :tongue

I'm almost there. Story's down, all of it, just needs more editing in a couple sections.

Enlightened
08-01-2018, 11:23 AM
My humble opinion, take it with the appropriate amount of salt: Too much planning, not enough starting.

I'm motivated because I believe in the story I'm writing. I've learned how to write as I go and I started from scratch as far as fiction goes. All that planning isn't going to help if you don't get some chapters down and get some feedback on your writing.

I believe I am proficient enough now with a whole lot of editing. I can't just pour out finished prose but once I get the story on paper, I can see all the things I need to fix. That's why you need to start writing.

I'm also motivated because my son keeps telling me to finish already. :tongue

I'm almost there. Story's down, all of it, just needs more editing in a couple sections.

I like the motivation; fantastic. Thank you!

I was told, by another AW member, to bring lube when and if I go to SYW for critique. :partyguy:

Elle.
08-01-2018, 12:43 PM
I agree with MaeZe - planning is great if that's what someone needs but there is a stage when it goes on for too long when planning becomes procrastinating. I see it as the equivalent of fluffing papers on a desk, check if the pen has a cartridge, going to fetch a pillow for the chair, then fetching a glass of water, getting a coaster, fluffing the paper stack again, etc...

Also no matter how much planning you do, it won't stop you having to do rewrite, and several edits of your novel. It's a normal process of writing that you will discover once you start writing.


Motivation varies from one person to the next but again there is a difference between what someone thinks will motivate them when writing and then discover what actually works once they are doing it. Personally what motivates me is that I like writing, I like seeing my stories finished and I've learned through writing that the self-doubt will always creep in but they always pass too.

Take it or leave it but every single person who responded to you on this thread and all of them are writers have all posted one advice in common: they all told you to start writing. Personally if I got the same unanimous feedback, I would think there is something into it.


Y

The things that made me learn the most about writing are: 1. re-reading what I'd written, 2. editing what I'd written after re-reading it, 3. reading lots and lots and lots of books - fiction books, not "how to" books, 4. critiquing other writers and 5. getting my work critiqued by other writers. The only ones of those you can do without having already started to write are 3 and 4. But you get a lot more out of 4 if you have already started to write, because you can take your critiquing skills that you're developing back to your own writing and do a much better job of revising and editing your own work. And you get more benefit out of 3 after you've started writing.


I agree that technically you can critique other writers without having started writing, but I would take those critiques with a massive pinch of salt. They would strike me as someone who watched cooking shows on TV but never cooked themselves, trying to teach someone who cooks everyday how to improve their technique.

eqb
08-01-2018, 06:02 PM
I agree that technically you can critique other writers without having started writing, but I would take those critiques with a massive pinch of salt. They would strike me as someone who watched cooking shows on TV but never cooked themselves, trying to teach someone who cooks everyday how to improve their technique.

Yes and no. I find that a new/inexperienced writer can give me valuable feedback from the reader's point of view.

My motivation is that I love my characters and their stories. Also, I love finishing things.

Elle.
08-01-2018, 08:24 PM
Yes and no. I find that a new/inexperienced writer can give me valuable feedback from the reader's point of view.

My motivation is that I love my characters and their stories. Also, I love finishing things.


Sorry for the misunderstanding here, for me a new or inexperienced writer is still a writer. I was talking about people who are not writing. For me, still using my cooking analogy, those people can tell me if the cake taste good or not but they can't say if the problem is the mixing, the measurement, or the cooking time.

Enlightened
08-01-2018, 08:37 PM
I agree with MaeZe - planning is great if that's what someone needs but there is a stage when it goes on for too long when planning becomes procrastinating. I see it as the equivalent of fluffing papers on a desk, check if the pen has a cartridge, going to fetch a pillow for the chair, then fetching a glass of water, getting a coaster, fluffing the paper stack again, etc...

Also no matter how much planning you do, it won't stop you having to do rewrite, and several edits of your novel. It's a normal process of writing that you will discover once you start writing.

Yes. Those are methods of procrastinating. No argument. I do not do those, or anything relational. I agree. I will have to rewrite, but I will lessen big mistakes if take the time to prepare well enough.

Thanks for the feedback.

- - - Updated - - -


My motivation is that I love my characters and their stories. Also, I love finishing things.

Thanks for sharing your motivation. Cheers.

eqb
08-01-2018, 10:20 PM
Sorry for the misunderstanding here, for me a new or inexperienced writer is still a writer. I was talking about people who are not writing. For me, still using my cooking analogy, those people can tell me if the cake taste good or not but they can't say if the problem is the mixing, the measurement, or the cooking time.

Ah, understood.

To be honest, I find that readers (including other writers) are better at pointing out problems than suggestions for how to fix those problems.

Frex, three different readers might all say that chapter three has problems. But reader #1 thinks it needs more tension. Reader #2 might say that the characters' motivations don't make sense. And reader #3 might be confused about the worldbuilding. But the real solution might be fixing a scene in chapter 1.

DrDLN
08-01-2018, 11:15 PM
For me as a nonfiction author, the information is boiling on a particular topic. Writing is the only way to free my mind...

Enlightened
08-01-2018, 11:31 PM
For me as a nonfiction author, the information is boiling on a particular topic. Writing is the only way to free my mind...

Thanks for sharing with us; cheers!

Aerythia
08-02-2018, 12:59 PM
I spent much of my teenage years and twenties thinking "I should write a book. I've got lots of good ideas, I should write a book."

In particular I've had this huge epic monumental series in my head since my mid-teens, and so about once every few years I would sit down and attempt to write said series. Without fail I would quit fifty or so pages in for the sole reason of "it's just not good enough." I have written the start of the first book six or seven times and never got anywhere close to finishing because I decided I couldn't do it.

Now I'm in my thirties. Last year I read a series of books that, as I read them, I realised that they were the exact kind of books that I wanted to write. Strong female lead, epic storyline, fantasy world, magical abilities blah blah blah. And I finally realised that if I was going to write a book, I just had to get on and well, WRITE the thing.

The first thing I did was discard the series I'd been thinking of since I was a teenager. I was never going to do that justice. Instead I came up with an entirely new idea, worked out approximately how the book was going to start and a rough ending. Then I sat down at my computer and I wrote. I had no pages of planning, or character profiles or even the overarching plot. I was a true pantser as the saying goes and you know what, once I finally sat down and got on with it I found the ideas tumbled out of my head. As my characters formed on the page I discovered I knew their motivations and quirks and I understood how the scenes were going to go. One thing I refused to allow myself to do was re-read what I had written any more than once. That way I was forced to keep going. I couldn't stop and wallow in self pity that what I'd written wasn't good enough. No, I did all the wallowing AFTER I'd churned out the 120,000 words or so ;). I can see how much better my writing was in the latter half in comparison to the first half. This shows me how much I improved just from getting on with actually writing. You know what, what I've written will probably go no further than my friends and family, but at least I can say I did it.

So in conclusion. Sit down. Write it ;). It might not be as good as you want it to be - or you might discover its as perfect as you dreamed it might become :D.

DanielSTJ
08-03-2018, 10:48 PM
Yes, I agree with the others that you have to start the writing. Without that, you're kind of just spinning your wheels.

Once you start, though, don't let up. Each day you follow through builds your skills. That should be motivation enough to keep you moving forward.

Just my amateur writer 0.02c!

carrie_ann
08-07-2018, 08:47 PM
Perhaps let yourself be motivated by your own potential? I was motivated by the want to know if I was capable and the want to know how long it would take. And there was no way to know but to do it.

I plotted my manuscript. I spent three months creating character development and plot spreadsheets. I wrote well over 25k words in just character development. At that point I thought later, when I was writing, I would go back and copy and paste certain well written sections where they were applicable, but that's not at all what happened.

Instead my creativity took over. The characters had formed themselves in my head and had their own stories to tell and it often didn't involve their speadsheet commited back stories. In fact, none of the development, even the well written sections made it into the first draft. I'm not saying it didn't help to know who they were, it did, but I didn't how it would help until I wrote them in action.

Edit four or five I did go back through the spreadsheets and cherry pick some of my favorite bits, but the manuscript wasn't ready for those bits until edit four or five. And a large majority of what's on those spreadsheets wasn't important to the story. If the planning had eliminated the editing I would say plan on, plot like the wind, but that wasn't my experience. If anything the planning helped editing more than writing.

I will say knowing where I wanted each chapter to go was helpful in staying on task, but I guess my point is, since this is your first, like me, you really won't know your process nor what worked and didn't work until you finish your process. And in your case finishing means starting.

I found learning what you can expect from yourself is fun. I learned once I started writing a chapter I really couldn't focus on anything else until it was finished. It helped me determine how much time I'd need to set aside in life for each chapter. I learned my word count was consistent. Every time I sat to write I was spent at the same word count +/- 500 words. Progress and learning myself as a writer made me more confident.

I'm sure your process will be different, everyone's is different from everyone else. And I suspect every book is a different process still, but I won't know that until I've actually finished my next and done or not done it differently. And you won't know yours until you've finished the first.

I don't think you'll necessarily know what subsequent books in a series will need until you explore the first one. I think by overplanning you are running the risk of stifling your own creativity. At present, there is no way to know if your most brilliant ideas will be exposed by plotting or writing. If you insist on following your own preconceived notions of your process, you are potentially robbing yourself of your own magic of discovery. Just my opinion. And I'm nobody.

Best of Luck!!

Maze Runner
08-07-2018, 09:53 PM
For me it's tenuous, and that's an understatement. The only thing that's helped was when someone complimented something I'd written. 'Course, the opposite is also true. Funny thing is, I can't think of many artists who are so sure of themselves that their confidence doesn't waver. And it's always surprised me how much reassurance even accomplished, successful artists need--I think it has to do with how elusive and subjective it all is.

DepressedbutnotDead
08-13-2018, 06:14 PM
I find that it comes and goes. I've gone months writing every day, really into my work, then other times it seems I go weeks without writing anything. A lot of the time it is when I hit a wall with a project - the what do I do now? Best way to get over it, the old tradition - read something inspiring and just start writing.

vestige
08-15-2018, 01:35 AM
I'm sort of the same way. There's times where I hit a brick wall of writer's block and I take a step back, try to approach it from another angle and give it another shot. If that doesn't work, I usually try to listen to some of my favorite musical tunes and/or will take a break and physically move away from my laptop or desktop, wherever I may be writing and let myself relax and then come back when I feel like I'm ready.

Lately I've been sort of on hiatus, trying my hand at an outline for the rest of one novel I've been working on for awhile.

rosegold
08-15-2018, 01:46 AM
I have absolutely no idea. I'll read a chapter and be convinced that I'm brilliant. One hour later, I'll read the same chapter with the urge to tear apart every word.

DanielSTJ
08-15-2018, 05:12 AM
I have absolutely no idea. I'll read a chapter and be convinced that I'm brilliant. One hour later, I'll read the same chapter with the urge to tear apart every word.

Agreed. Sometimes I think it's so good, other times I believe it's SO BAD. :X