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View Full Version : How do I get myself back on track?



Sean D. Schaffer
12-31-2006, 09:10 AM
Hi everyone,

This might seem a little unusual coming from me, but how do I get back on track with my writing?

For years now, ever since the fiasco of my book with PA, I've not been writing like I should be. It used to be I took my writing very seriously, to the point it didn't matter what kind of office I had or what kind of typewriter I used. So long as I got the writing done, and done well, I was pleased.

Nowadays, it seems like I can't focus on the writing like I used to. I don't enjoy it half as much as I did before I got my book printed, and I want so much to enjoy it like I used to.

Part of me thinks it could be the Internet causing a lot of my problems. But I've learned so much from my time on the 'Net that I really do not wish to get rid of it. (That and the fact I'm under a DSL contract that I really do not want to spend a couple hundred dollars getting disconnected early on, kind of keep me from wanting to get rid of the 'Net altogether.)

But I don't know what to do. I love stories, but I don't really feel them like I did way back when. Plus, I read threads where you have to be under 35 to become a successful writer (and I am, as I post this, 35 years old) and I have to improve my writing exponentially from what I'm doing now, and I get pretty darned discouraged--especially when I see a young author whose writing is nowhere near as good as mine, getting pubbed by a decent-sized house.

Does anyone have any advice for me? I really could use some way of getting to love my work again. I want to be published before I turn 90, and the way things are going, I don't see it happening.

How can I spark my love for the Craft I had those many years ago? I'm tired of not being able to write with the fervency and the love I used to hold for my chosen profession.

Thanks in advance, everyone.

Toothpaste
12-31-2006, 09:29 AM
Oh gosh that's a tall order my friend. I'm sure you'll get many different answers. But here I go.

Firstly. I think the thing I am seeing is you are thinking too much. About everything. About the way your write, about the business (being *gasp* 35), about being hurt in the past. It's a bit like a girl who's been dumped so many times in the past, is now 35 and worried she will never get married and is so scared of getting hurt that she stops dating.

The first thing I guess is to write something that gives you butterflies in the stomach. Something that really excites you. I know I know, sounds easy, but I'm talking about writing anything, not thinking about publishing, or trends or your writing sucking, just well . . .I like pirates. For forever I was writing a detective novel that was going nowhere. Finally I just stopped and said to myself, "I like pirates, maybe I should write about pirates. But Adrienne you know nothing about pirates or sailing or anything . . ." So I immersed myself in it. And wrote about it. Just for fun. And suddenly I had a book.

Just write. Write knowing that this draft is the vomit on the page. Don't go back and edit, no matter how much you want to, just write and write. Do this for a few days even. Then, maybe, you can go back and read over what you've written. But don't think about technique or style, just write. All that other stuff is there ingrained already, you don't need to worry about it. You need to forget about it.

As for the whole "I'm 35 and not successful yet". I know how you feel so much. I'm 26 and an actress. And not successful yet. You think it's scary being a male author? Try working in a profession where the top actresses are 21 and 30 is over the hill. Cate Blanchett was nominated for an oscar for "Elizabeth" at my age. What keeps me going? Well knowing I'm good. Knowing there is nothing else in this world I want more. And also, sadly, reminding myself that Naomi Watts and Felicity Huffman didn't hit it big until way later. So find yourself an author who hit it big later (which is probably way easier than the actress thing) and cling on to that.

But most of all. Work through it. The second you want to fling something across the room in frustration, type harder. Get over the bump and realise that you can make it out to the other side. You can. But you just have to believe you can do it. And the only way to believe is to just do it.

It will come together for you. Keep the faith. You really can do it. You have done it.

Write. And stop thinking!!

tlblack
12-31-2006, 09:34 AM
I know exactly how you feel. I was so down after learning about PA that I stopped writing altogether. I had worked so hard on my first novel, even had it edited in parts while I was taking a writing course. I knew it would sell and wanted it in the hands of a good publisher. What I ended up with was a bad agent who submitted the book to PA without telling me they were a POD publisher. I knew nothing at all about how any of that worked. The kill to the thrill was receiving the "do it yourself" marketing packet from PA after the book was in the final process for publication. At the time I was going through a divorce and had a child to finish raising. I didn't write a word for two years other than what I had to do to pay the bills. I got my son through high school and then took on two jobs to put him through college.

I started writing again out of the sheer need to get the ideas out of my head and on paper. It took me a while to get the gears in my head back on track and still I sometimes wonder if I should not just give it up entirely and focus on something else. I decided that regardless of whether I ever get legitimately published or not would depend on how much effort I was willing to put into the writing and how willing I was to take any rejections. Realizing that PA was about as bad as it could get gave me new inspiration to keep trying. At least now, I have researched enough and found good information both here and on other websites that have encouraged me enough to try finding a "good" agent. All I can do is try, but nothing will be as bad as being PA published was, not even those crooks with the NYLA.

I know that for me, having a lot of encouragement from my friends really did help. And... even though my book was in print by PA, those that have read it, love it and wanted to know when my next book would be out. (I got that contract cancelled recently.) That in itself helped to encourage me to keep writing. How else will they all get the next book if I don't? I hope that you will be able to find again what it is you love about writing. Try and remember what it was that once inspired you. It's in there somewhere waiting to be let out so that all those words and characters start to take shape on your computer screen. Best wishes!

PeeDee
12-31-2006, 10:27 AM
I would suggest going luddite for a little while if you can. Write using a pen and paper. Write something you weren't planning on writing before. A short story, or two. For fun. Nothing serious (unless they're good, in the end).

Or, take a laptop and just stay off the internet. I suspect that your mind's really scattered right now which means that you don't have to completely get rid of the internet, but you need to cut it off when you're writing. Lock yourself in the laundry room, or something. Somewhere that's beyond dull. A closet.

You might do nothing for a day or two, writing luddite like this. You might write something and hate it. I bet the sheer monotony if it will, by day three or so, have you writing something to entertain yourself.

johnzakour
12-31-2006, 05:39 PM
I agree with PD except for the pen and paper part.

Use a word processor the cutting, pasting, formatting and spell checking take a lot of nitpicking problems away allowing you to focus on the bigger picture.

Just my 2 cents. (Well actually more like my 1 cent...)

Linda Adams
12-31-2006, 06:31 PM
Plus, I read threads where you have to be under 35 to become a successful writer

Ahem. So not true. My 90-year old grandmother published a column for a newspaper for at least twenty years. She only ended it last year because she got fed up with the newspaper's in-house politics. Otherwise she'd still be writing it!

Granted, that was non-fiction, but there are plenty of examples of writers who not only 35 but but much older. Clive Cussler is in his 70's. I believe Sue Grafton is in her 60's. In truth, many successful writers are over 35 because that seasoning of life experiences can really make a big difference in crafting a good story. I perodically will see an article about a writer who got their first book published at 60 or even 90. The average of a NY Times best-selling author is 50.5 It all still comes down to telling a story people want to read.

I'm always a little skeptical when I see articles in the newspaper about needing to be twenty-something to be a successful writer. It's all too easy to write about a handful of writers who meet this qualification and speculate that it's a trend when it may not be at all. They've done that with self-publishing often enough! So I would suggest taking such stories with a grain of salt.

But ... Miss Snark answers questions. Ask her if it's true that you have to be 20-something to be a successful writer.



Does anyone have any advice for me?


Start with attitude. If you focus on all the things that are wrong, everything is going to look bad. Start with something good. Okay, so what's good--and even the PA experience does have one good aspect to it. You finished a book. A lot of people never get past writing chapter 3. So that's a major accomplishment, and you'll have learned a lot simply by doing that.

And don't hold yourself up to the way you felt about writing in the past. It's also possible that some of this may be age-related and that you may be looking at it differently than you did. I can say this because it happened to me. I view my writing very differently now than I did when I was twenty, and I think has changed for the better. It may be worth thinking about what exactly you really want to write and being open to the possibility that your taste may have changed. I spent years working on a novel, trying to make it work, and only after I set it aside and later abandoned it, did I realize that I grew out of it. I've seen that happen with some published writers who transition to a new genre.

scarletpeaches
12-31-2006, 06:31 PM
I can offer no advice save a request from one writer to another that you do not give up. Ever.

It is always darkest just before the dawn.

Azure Skye
12-31-2006, 08:26 PM
Hi everyone,

This might seem a little unusual coming from me, but how do I get back on track with my writing?

For years now, ever since the fiasco of my book with PA, I've not been writing like I should be. It used to be I took my writing very seriously, to the point it didn't matter what kind of office I had or what kind of typewriter I used. So long as I got the writing done, and done well, I was pleased.

Nowadays, it seems like I can't focus on the writing like I used to. I don't enjoy it half as much as I did before I got my book printed, and I want so much to enjoy it like I used to.

How burned were you by this PA fiasco? Maybe there's still some resentment that needs to be dealt with. I've had experiences where things go off track a little bit and I end up losing steam. Push through it if that's the case. Write PA an angry letter telling them to eff off and what not and then burn it. ***don't send the letter***


Part of me thinks it could be the Internet causing a lot of my problems. But I've learned so much from my time on the 'Net that I really do not wish to get rid of it. (That and the fact I'm under a DSL contract that I really do not want to spend a couple hundred dollars getting disconnected early on, kind of keep me from wanting to get rid of the 'Net altogether.)

It could be. For the past five years I've said the same thing to myself. The Internet is a great place to go and do research and blah, blah, blah, but it will suck the life right out of you. Finding a healthy balance can be difficult. Give yourself a certain amount of time to go on each day and then go for a walk, read, and most importantly WRITE.


But I don't know what to do. I love stories, but I don't really feel them like I did way back when. Plus, I read threads where you have to be under 35 to become a successful writer (and I am, as I post this, 35 years old) and I have to improve my writing exponentially from what I'm doing now, and I get pretty darned discouraged--especially when I see a young author whose writing is nowhere near as good as mine, getting pubbed by a decent-sized house.

That's the biggest bunch of horsehockey I ever heard. Besides I'm 39 and I'm not listening...la, la, la, la, la. ;) Anyway, I've always thought of writing as being a career where age is irrelevant -- to an extent I mean. I wouldn't worry about a young pup getting pubbed. Be happy for them...they got pubbed!! Sure, we may have started later but we can catch up. Don't lose hope just because of your age. Besides, we're still young anyway. 40 is the new 20...yeah, that's it. :)


Does anyone have any advice for me? I really could use some way of getting to love my work again. I want to be published before I turn 90, and the way things are going, I don't see it happening.

How can I spark my love for the Craft I had those many years ago? I'm tired of not being able to write with the fervency and the love I used to hold for my chosen profession.

Thanks in advance, everyone.

I wish I could give you better advice. "The only way out is through." Maybe your epectations are too high and you need to be a little kinder to yourself with not meeting them. Take a few steps back and move ahead with little baby steps until you figure it all out. This too shall pass.

The Lady
12-31-2006, 09:12 PM
Yep, definitely don't let the age thing bother you. Once when I got a bit upset when some twelve year old had published her first book, I did some research on how old some of my favourite writers had been when they first started getting published, or at least first published the book that got them serious attention.

Pretty much all late thirties.Did you say you were 35?

You're smokin!

William Haskins
12-31-2006, 10:13 PM
your first order of business might ought to be some soul searching. maybe you don't want to write.

that's not a crime, you know.

PeeDee
12-31-2006, 10:20 PM
I mentally sit up and square my shoulders and I tell myself that what I am now going to do is kick ass, take names, and give the world the finger until I've pleased myself.

Maybe you're getting too bogged down by everything else, instead of just the sheer joy of creating something new that wasn't there before.

If it is the internet.....then I can resurrect my Paralyzing Writers thread and say, very gently, "see?"

eldragon
12-31-2006, 10:28 PM
I'm sorry, but does the title of this thread remind anyone else of Chris Farley?

PeeDee
12-31-2006, 10:29 PM
I was trying to be good! I was trying so hard not to bring that up!

eldragon
12-31-2006, 10:33 PM
It's hard not to notice these things when you live in a van down by the river!

PeeDee
12-31-2006, 10:56 PM
Don't worry, Ian! Matt Foley will be along to motivate you shortly!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d9/Matt_Foley,_Saturday_Night_Live.jpg

Carrie in PA
12-31-2006, 11:36 PM
If you have a second computer, unhook it from the internet. I have 2 - when I'm working, I turn off the Internet access, only turning it on if I have to research something. (and then turning it back off. WithOUT checking my email or the board or or or or...)

The whole PA thing sucks, it really does, but it can't be changed. Don't let the experience further damage you by holding you back now!

The age thing? Pffft. I'm not quite 35, but if I could go back to 21, I'd slit my wrists instead. (Ok, not really, but I like early 30s waaaaaaay better than early 20s!)

You know what to do. Sit. Write.

If you want to rediscover that passion, you will. You will.

rugcat
12-31-2006, 11:44 PM
Maybe you're getting too bogged down by everything else, instead of just the sheer joy of creating something new that wasn't there before.I tend to think of it more as sheer agony.

Raindrops
01-01-2007, 12:22 AM
I can't believe that someone actually experiences the same thing as me? Not too long ago, PA had my first novel, but by the grace of God, I was able to get my rights back before it went to print. Since then, its been rewritten, edited. But now I'm stuck rewriting the first chapter and its gone through ten writes or better. Still no luck with it.

Anyway, I have three completed novels, and five more in the works. None of them are published yet. The funny thing is, I love to tell stories, but here lately, it's hard to get past the first chapter. It's as if I've lost ambition or something. There are times I get butterflies, but when I start writing a piece, it seems the butterflies goes away.

If I didn't jot down the ideas in my head, it would drive me crazy! I have so many, but not enough drive to finished them. I wish there was something that could help my situation, but I believe the answer I'm looking for can only be settled by me, the writer. :Shrug:

aadams73
01-01-2007, 02:31 AM
Ian, have you tried maybe shaking things up by tackling another genre? Sometimes a change of pace can give you a new perspective.

PeeDee
01-01-2007, 02:34 AM
Just always remember that there's writing and there's re-writing and there's editing, but the absolute most important thing about the whole process is the bit where you declare it finished and dont' mess with it anymore.

No time limit on it. I do it rather quickly, you might take longer than me, or do even less. Just make sure that you have a point hwere you will quit, even if there are things niggling at you. There will always be something niggling at you. The important thing to do is tell the story, make it clear, and then get it out of the house.

(not exactly on topic, but I wanted to say it anyway)

Little Red Barn
01-01-2007, 02:40 AM
Ian, have you tried maybe shaking things up by tackling another genre? Sometimes a change of pace can give you a new perspective.

This is good advice..I've got myself pumped to do this..not brainy enough for sci fi but I'm doing a little romance right now.

Now about this PA...I guess I finally need to check out that thread...I have no clue what this is but it seems as if it sucks the very life out of writers... Unless someone can tell me in 30 seconds :Shrug: or less what is it?

PeeDee
01-01-2007, 02:44 AM
A scam publisher which sucks writers in, gives them nothing in return, and makes it hellishly painful to get out. Like a violently abusive relationship.

Little Red Barn
01-01-2007, 02:53 AM
A scam publisher which sucks writers in, gives them nothing in return, and makes it hellishly painful to get out. Like a violently abusive relationship.

6 seconds and Thanks... I'll stay far away!

allion
01-01-2007, 04:16 AM
Ian, the only advice I have is what others have offered. It is quite normal to go through a dark night of the soul because of what happened to you. I had a period of about 5 years where I hardly ever wrote, and I honestly thought I would never do write again. A lot of that had to do with personal and job issues which made it difficult to even think about these fictional people inhabiting my head.

Fast forward to this year, and I'm in the last stages of finishing another novel. Sure, I'm unpublished, but I'm having fun again, and that is what matters to me now.

You will get through this. If you have to unplug from the net, that's ok. If you have to write with crayons, that's ok.

And I just turned 40, so yeah, the age thing does play in my head if I let it.

Just don't pack it in. Be gentle with yourself.

Happy New Year,

Karen

Sean D. Schaffer
01-01-2007, 05:07 AM
I took some of the advice that you all gave me, and I've written quite a bit today. There are no major stories within the work I've done today, but I did accomplish quite a bit.

I guess the age thing really is part-and-parcel of the problem here. I've been writing longer than some recently published authors have been alive, and it's a major discouragement to me. I know I can write well, but the fact I've never been published, with the exception of my PA book, just drains the life out of me.

Still, I see the point a lot of you are making. I shouldn't focus so much on the bad stuff, and maybe it is time to change genres. I started at age 11 writing humor, and then went to SF. From there I moved on to Fantasy, and have kind of kept myself there for nigh to two decades. I've taken on a little bit of Erotica, but I don't know as I really want to work just in that genre by itself. Maybe I could do a combination Erotica/Fantasy work, like I've been talking about for some time.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's my natural tendency to focus on the bad parts of my life that are destroying what good points I have. I will focus more on the good, and try not to worry so much about the bad stuff.

Finally, the PA issue hit me the hardest of everything. To be told I was a great writer, only to find out later on that the people telling me this were scamming me as a writer, did a lot to destroy what pride I had in my work beforehand. At the same time, though, Linda is right on the money. I did finish a book, and that right there should be cause for some gladness on my own part. Maybe I should, like others have pointed out, not hold myself to such immensely high standards that no real human being can actually attain.

So yeah, I'll be sure to focus on the good and not on the bad. That's what will get me through this like nothing else can. I appreciate everyone's help.

:)