>> Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ah, the whims of inspiration.

I'm working on my new novel, of course, which takes bits and pieces of a thousand different daydreams and fantasies and tries to put them together intelligently.

Except it's slow going and that worries me a bit.

When I'm excited, caught up in inspiration, I can't be stopped. I scribble scenes and bits whatever I'm doing, often writing up page after page in dull meetings or watching a show. When I was working on the first draft of the Bete, I wrote 63,000 words in 10 days (though I took a few days off work, too).

For catalyst, I struggle to get a page or two a day, if that. And I have to craft each line - it doesn't flow from my fingers as quickly as I can type it as I so often do.

What does this mean? It's not crap (I think) as it usually is when I grind to a halt: when I do that, there's no sense in continuing. What I'll be writing is so bad, it will be completely worthless. I do occasionally run into scenes that are not inspirational and that I just basically fill in the action and plot pieces knowing I'll have to go back and flesh them out later. But it doesn't feel like that either.

Am I crazy? Am I overthinking this? Does it need to simmer a bit more before I tackle this project? How in the heck would you know? Do you care in the slightest? If so, for heaven's sake why?


  • The Mother

    When I get stuck, I sleep on it. Glass of wine, a lie in bed. Usually I'm unstuck by morning. Or the next day. If necessary, rinse and repeat.

  • flit

    I definitely don't know the why ...but of course I care... and I have no doubt that it's going to be great

  • Roy

    I'm not sure how exactly to regard inspiration. I guess it may work a little differently with photography. The camera and all the accessories go with me whenever I go out the door, but I'll admit that some days the camera never comes out of the bag. Or nothing of the day's shooting passes quality control once I look at the results in the computer (except that I may come back to those shots later and see the perfect way to crop it to turn it from dreck to art).

    So is the inspiration in the actual shooting or is it when I get back home and see the bigger version on my monitor? I suspect it's a combination of the two. Which still doesn't answer your questions about your own work. Hmmmm...

  • Stephanie B

    Ah, the Mother, once again my dislike for alcohol works against me. I've slept on it several days and, though I can keep moving forward, it's still not flowing.

    Thanks, flit.

    I don't know, Roy. I can always see it in my minds eye, but sometimes I struggle with how to put it on paper.

  • Aron Sora

    Did you read Seth Godin's The Dip. You learned the lesson he teaches in that book. Basically, Quitting is not bad. If you are working on a project and it's not moving forward, you should quit. But, if there is progress, even the slightest progress, then you should keep moving forward.

    What I use to get inspiration is the podcast The Morning Coach. I would check it out, it helps me get out of areas where I'm stuck.

  • Boris Legradic

    Since I am not writing a novel (yet), I just tend to stop writing (my blog) when inspiration stops. Technical writing, on the other hand, has it's own inspiration in the form of a looming deadline. Wonderful inspiration, that.

    I've read about writers who will write a set amount of words every day, even if they don't feel like it. And I think there may be something to it - even if you feel that you are writing crap, I've found that just writing something down sometimes helps overcome a block. You can always edit it afterwards, and may end up re-writing it totally, but at least you've got something to work with!

  • Stephanie B

    I didn't, Aron. That's just the lesson I've learned via experience.

    Boris, I know some people can, even need, to do that. If I write when I'm well and truly dry, I get so disgusted with what I come up with, I often walk away from writing for months (and, in two cases in the past, years).

    I'm not dry. It's almost like I have too much to work from. I'm pulling together dozens if not hundreds of little scenarios, often replays of scenarios each just slightly different and come up with a single vision. I suspect that's the real problem: too many different paths to take and choosing between them when I don't know where they all lead.

  • Richard

    Sounds like you're still making progress, just in a different way than you're used to. Maybe you're growing as a writer. Perhaps you'll find, after you get through the first draft of this work, that it needs much less editing since you spent more time crafting the story as you wrote it. Or maybe you're just a little too close to the source material.

    Personally, I'm a big fan of the outline. It's where I do my most creative work. If too many paths is your problem, an outline might help. Once I have the scenes laid out and the character development sketched, the actual writing is just sticking to the map until I reach my destination. I find that I do a lot of my best outlining in the woods. Preferably three days of hiking and 30-40 miles away from civilization (but hey, that's just the kind of freak I am).

    I do a lot of writing at home, but I find that a change of scenery often helps get the fingers tapping. Coffee shop, library, front porch, busy shopping mall, you name it, as long as I can plug in the headset on my laptop.

    Whatever you do, don't give up if you still think there's life left in your story. Good luck!

  • Shakespeare

    Every writing project has been different for me. My first novel began with a 15-page outline and practically wrote itself. Now I'm going back to it to tear it apart, though. My second one had nothing but a brief outline of characters, and it wrote itself even faster--and is far better than my first novel. I'm about to revise it and send it off to agents soon.

    My third novel was EXCRUCIATING to write, and I reworked it three full times before I actually finished a draft, keeping the premise the same, but changing the main character and the narration... only on the third try was it easier to write, but it didn't push me the way the first two books did.

    You may find that slow and steady just works for this particular book. That can still work in your favor--and it may give you a far better first draft than you would have had if you'd written it all fast.

    Keep going! Any progress is good, and each project is another chance to develop as a writer.

    So glad you are writing on a new project!

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