Wednesday, October 6, 2010

#draftfail?


Sometimes life just gets in the way of writing. This weekend was one of those times.

I had planned on cranking out about three thousand words this Saturday. Know how many I actually wrote? ZERO. Nada. Zilch.

It's not that I was all that busy, but I never had the chance to sit down and write. There were too many distractions, and not enough time to concentrate on my WiP. Too much was going on in my personal sphere and there was just no good time to sit down with Cass and all my new characters.

Here's the thing, though. Yesterday during lunch I did some plotting, and completely changed my idea of how the scene I hadn't written over the weekend ought to go. I decided the way I had it planned was too boring, and now I'm writing something new. I only wrote about three-hundred words yesterday, but I'm feeling more motivated to write towards this new idea.

It makes me wonder: if I'd been able to sit down and write this Saturday, would I have thought of this change sooner? Would the muse have been kick-started into action? Or would I have just written the scene the original way, thinking everything was fine? Would I have written it and not felt like it was boring? Confused yet? ;)

My last post was all about how making yourself sit down and write is better than waiting for inspiration to strike. This week, I'm so not feeling the Butt-In-Chair philosophy, and the guilt is starting to set in, but at least I'm making some progress.

Not sure what the point of this rambling little post is. Maybe that sometimes the muse knows best, and you should listen to her or you might miss the mark like poor Fido up there.

But I do know this: sitting around waiting for her to inspire isn't going to get you through any hoops. Or tires. ;)

Has your muse been A.W.O.L lately? Do you make yourself write when you're not inspired? If so, how? I'd love to hear it.

Turns out there's a guest post over at Michelle McLean's blog today on a similar subject, only written in a much more lucid style than my post. What can I say, I was sleepy this morning. ;) Check it out!

31 comments:

Abby Annis said...

Ah, the guilt of being a pantser...

Pardon me for a moment, while I make this post all about me. :)

As you know, I've been having the hardest time sitting down and just writing my ending, and my lack of motivation is making me feel like a total loser. Why am I putting myself through this if I can't even get words on paper, right?

At the same time, over the last month, I've come up with several new elements to include in my ending that are going to make it so much better (in my head, anyway). And I can't help but wonder, if I'd just sat down and forced myself to write something awful, would I have ever come up with this additional stuff?

I think sometimes, the Butt-In-Chair philosophy isn't the way to go. When it is and when it isn't, I couldn't tell you. I know. I like to be helpful.

Thanks for this post. It was exactly what I needed today. :)

Valerie Geary said...

I do not wait for inspiration. I chase it down and beat it into submission. Also, I don't trust my Muse. She's fickle and writes purple prose. Boo. So usually I make her sit in the corner and color or paint while I'm writing. ;)

Meredith said...

I always like the butt-in-chair philosophy, but sometimes, it's just not working. I take a break, go for a walk, do something, and then maybe I'll get some inspiration for a new scene. Congrats on finding a new, better scene!

Tere Kirkland said...

LOL, Abby, glad I could help! I've been trying to just spew out this draft as fast as I can, but somehow that technique is not agreeing with my muse. I keep thinking I'll just get it written, and change things in the rewrites, but what if I make a change so huge it's like writing a whole new book from there? I'm sure you can relate. ;)

Valerie, ha! I've been trying to train the purple out of my muse, but that's just made her unreliable and tardy. Why are they all so fickle? I guess if she wasn't everyone would be a writer.

Tere Kirkland said...

Meredith, thanks! You're right, sometimes the BiC philosophy can be like beating your head against a wall, and just more counterproductive than anything else. A nice walk helps, especially now that the weather has cooled!

Joanna St. James said...

I had to put my WIP on Timeout and pick up another one before my muse would stop sulking and talk to me again

Tere Kirkland said...

Joanna, that's brave! I have a feeling if I started something else right now, my WiP would just get put on the back burner and I wouldn't get back to it for a long time. And I love this story, I just haven't been as immersed in it as other stories.

Maybe I need to read it all the way through once before I start writing again to get me back into the story, which is something I've been trying to avoid in the name of speed, and trying to keep from editing until I have a first draft. Maybe that's doing me more harm than good!

Interesting...

Dominique said...

I'm in the middle of the climax of my story, so my muse has been giggling in a corner lately. Though, yesterday, she went out for coffee during my writing time, and for that I shall kick her.

Still, I think being excited for what you're about to write really helps.

Misha said...

I find that the butt-in-chair principle frustrates the life out of me.

I will literally sit there for hours and not write a solitary word.

If my words aren't there, or my characters are quiet, I don't write - even if I have the whole week to do so.

Melissa said...

My muse is AWOL a lot:) I have a bad habit of taking long breaks when I'm not motivated, but sometimes just writing works. When that doesn't, sometimes I pick a character and write their backstory. That forces me to really think about their motivation for doing the things that will end up in my story.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Sometimes you have to let things simmer, and that means waiting. I think there is as much point in butt-in-chair as there is in letting the muse have holidays to get refreshed. It's balance that gets it done. (my two cents)

The Golden Eagle said...

Sometimes I'll just write whatever comes to mind, even if it's totally ridiculous or unrelated; the flow of the writing can sometimes stimulate that good ol' muse.

Krispy said...

I think sometimes the universe forces you to take a break, and it's usually for the best. :) Like you said though, you can't sit around and just wait every time the muse is AWOL.

Mine has been uncooperative and forcing myself to sit down and write has been a little excruciating without the word flow, but I figure it's better than nothing.

Susan R. Mills said...

My muse has been AWOL more times than I can count. If I waited for it to come back, I'd never get any writing done. But, my writing is better and more natural when the muse is around.

Jamie Grey said...

I think I was born muse-less :( No one talks to me while I'm writing!

And while I agree with BIC, sometimes you just have to walk away or take a break. I think sometimes when you can't write a scene, there's a reason for it - perhaps you need to do something different with the story/characters/plot.

I've actually stopped halfway through a WIP and put it away b/c I couldn't make myself write. That's how I knew there were some fundamental problems.

Now in your case, that's awesome that you were able to re-plot before writing it. Sometimes the universe knows exactly what we need!

Tere Kirkland said...

Interesting results here! I'm thinking a balance must be made between making yourself write, and taking a much-needed break.

I'm also starting to think that this current novel is much more character driven than the previous novels I've written, where I planned what was going to happen down to all the twists and conflicts. (Obviously, I'm a plotter.)

This time the characters have been changing my plans right and left and generally screwing up my plots. So I guess the best bet is to let them take the lead and spin the story as they act it.

This is undiscovered country for me, but I think it'll be fun if I just sit down and motivate myself to write.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, yeah. My muse is totally AWOL right now. I finished my MS and officially entered query wars, so I should be moving on to the next story. Except, I'm not sure what that is yet. :-)

Plamena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Plamena said...

Hmm, I'm a slow plotter -- I start writing from the beginning, the hook, but then I write so slow (or maybe I think so fast, yeah!) that I get the story plotted in a scene by scene manner long before I even reach Chp 4 or 5. And after I get the main twists and turns down, I add layers to it that involve the characters and then I tweak it some more.

Since I have my story plotted I tend to jump to different scenes (based on which one I can relate to that day) and sometimes I don't get to some of the early chapters till later. However, this kind of helps, because it was almost as if those chapters weren't ready to be written. When I write them later I know that I wouldn't have thought of writing them the same way earlier or included all the things I needed.

So my general strategy is: sit down to write sentence by sentence and if a ready scene comes to me I jot it down fast and if it doesn't, I still got something written. It's also important to take a day or two away from writing every week to recharge. At least for me : )

Tere Kirkland said...

Plamena, that's an excellent plan of attack. That's more or less how I wrote my last novel, Strings. There were some key scenes near the beginning I purposely didn't write, because I knew I had to write the ending first to make everything come full circle, but I knew more or less what was going to happen before I wrote it.

Of course, Clockwork (Cass's story) is not lending itself to this work flow. Ironic that it's not going like clockwork, eh? ;)

Jade said...

I have a tendency to stop working on a story and go do something else until the muse strikes again. I took a break from Forever More where I wrote 2 other MS before I came back to it. I did the same thing for my last MS and now the Silagree is sitting at 20k and I haven't touched it in a couple of weeks. I have total faith that I'll get back to it now.

Good luck! Hopefully you'll sort yourself out soon. I'm looking forward to reading this one. (So selfish!)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I had my new wip outlined a while ago, but ended up majorly editing my newly completed (as of today) ms. I'm glad that happened. Both are stronger for it. After I received a crit on my wip, I realized what I needed to do to make the new story stronger. :D

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Mine is ready to go into high gear for NaNo next month! With my book release this month, there's just no way I can write now.

Danielle said...

Gonna be honest, when I'm not inspired, or just not feeling like I want to write....I don't. If I try to force it I usually end up hating what I write and feeling like I wasted my time anyway. Of course, this explains why writing is such a long, slow process for me.

L.T. Elliot said...

Sometimes I think those moments of reprieve are really just clouds forming in order for lighting to strike. =]

Melissa said...

When I'm not inspired and I try to write I come out with crap... but usually the process of just writing will spark my muse. Or I just listen to a lot of music.

Tara Maya said...

What I hate is when I am feeling inspired, but I have something else I need to do. Result, I do neither. Ugh.

Dominique said...

By the way, there's an award for you on my blog. :)
http://mavieenviolet.blogspot.com/2010/10/some-general-randomness.html

Janet Johnson said...

Sometimes it's good to let ideas germinate. I guess there's a time for everything . . . even NOT writing. :)

Amanda Sablan said...

My muse, whoever that is, has been away for maybe a week and it's hard for me to write without being in the moment. All I can do is just stare at the words I've already written and hope that more will come. Nothing fancy there. :]

Lola Sharp said...

Dude, what L.T. said. Word.

Sometimes we're "writing" when we're not writing. Mulling. Festering.

I have my best writing breakthroughs in the shower or when I'm driving, for some reason. Both are inconvenient places for writing things down, but you take it when you can get it.

Love,
Lola