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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Endurance and Victory! - Part Two

I have been so busy as of late that it seems I've begun neglecting my blog. As most of you can probably understand I've had Christmas family stuff to deal with, a short family crisis, as well as simple time to write and be with the family. Here is the promised Endurance and Victory Post (though not the one I expected) and coming soon might be a third part as well as the series on types of characters.

I talk to many aspiring writers, quite a few of which are my friends in real life. They stick with writing for months, sometimes even a full year, and then just quit. They grow tired, or loose interest. This is my greatest fear--that I may by some means loose interest in my current project or in writing in general.

I've gone through many obsessions in life. Being a kid, I often have "phases" of one thing or another. While I was REALLY small I was in love with Batman. All I ever wanted to do and to be was Batman. I never took off the costume, refused to answer to "Nathan" (only to "Batman"), and I even recall praying that I would miraculously be transformed into Batman. But what came with this obsession was the nagging fear that I would someday lose this feeling and become interested in something else.

More recently (as in a few years ago) my obsession was Star Wars. This went on from the time I was seven years old until two years ago. I really liked it. I bought all the toys, had all the video games, and had mastered the ways of the light-saber. I practiced dueling all day everyday until I could out fight kids nearly ten years my elder. I named myself Nathan Light-walker and, once again, refused to answer to anything save "Master Light-walker". I wrote a 100 page novel, at the age of 10, about Light-walker and how he and his jedi buddies saved Yoda from the clutches of the Dark Side. I fell in love with the Lego version of my favorite characters, and then the Lego Star Wars Video Game. And I remember clear as day thinking "I hope this love never dies out."

And then came my obsession with writing.

In all of my obsessions I've feared losing the obsession. These times came when I found a lack of productivity in them, or a lack of their use.

As of late, I've found myself very busy and very unable to write. This inactive state is adding to my fear that I may loose interest in writing. The funny thing is, I am writing WAYYY more than I used to and yet I still feel like I'm not doing enough. Why?

Because I'm only writing in short spurts.

Every other day or so I sit down with the plan to write for one, maybe two, hour(s). And recently I've only been able to keep at it for one hour and then knocking out half as many words as usual. On a normal day I can write 1,500-2,000 words an hour, but the trend for the past couple months has been only about 300-400 words. And its bothering me like crazy.

Have you ever felt like this? Gotten discouraged because you are not doing as well as you previously have done? It's not fun.

So I try to re-encourage myself (yes I made up that word) in any number of ways: I'll chat with other writers, take a break and read for a while, do push-ups, shut off the computer, or anything else that might help infuse me with energetic creativity.

Some would call this Writer's Block. I don't. To me, it's just that I can't seem to find the story-world. I don't write in a way that Writer's Block implies to me. It seems that the term "Writer's Block" would mean that a writer is trying to create such and such and simply can't. I don't feel like that. I know, very well, what happened to my characters. But in this time right now, I can't find my characters in order to represent the events accurately.

When I call a day of writing good, the words and actions of my characters flow easily. I don't even have to think. What the characters say, they say, and what they do, they do. It's easy when things come like that. But what I consider my own version of "writer's block", and what I'm at now, I find myself forcing the characters to my will. And when I do that, well, I don't produce as much or as good of a story as I do when it comes naturally.

So as writing buddy Christian Miles said on my previous "Endurance" post, I often tuck my head and run through a scene. I just don't like to do this though, and I am not a fan of skipping ahead in my stories. I either skip backwards or not at all. I just don't like skipping ::laughs::

What I'd like readers of this post to do, is to comment with some ideas on how to get out of a rut. When you are having a bad day of writing, what do you do? Because lately, I've just been quitting and waiting for better days. As you can imagine, this isn't a good idea.

I know this idea of being "stuck in a rut" has become rather repetitive on this blog for the past couple posts, but I'd like to think its something every writer struggles with. If not, I guess that just makes me even more special :)

Stuff for you guys to look forward to;
  • "Characters' Character" Series
  • "Party Till Midnight!"
  • "New New Year's Resolutions!"
  • "Endurance and Victory! - Part Three"
  • A link to the working prelude of The Sword of Fire
I hope you all had wonderful Christmases, I know I did. I am so upset that I didn't get to blog on Christmas Day. I had an awesome idea that I wanted to run with, if enough of you want me to blog it I will. The title would have been Silent Night *Cue Thunder, Lightning, and Battle*

And since that is over: Have a happy new year!

To the end,


Natasha Atkerson said...

Personally, I too have this problem. I sort of "flit" about doing various things throughout the day, one minute I'm playing guitar, the next I'm reading a book, and still later I'm listening to music. I think "fazes" are normal. Your going to be interested in different things at differetn times. As far as generating inspirtaion..I have a few suggestions:
1.Listen to some really "aventure" ridden music right before you write, and also during. This will help you get in into the mood.
2.Don't push yourself to write! It will come to you! It will not kill you to wait to write, chances are,it will be 10x's better if you do.
3.Read TONS of books about whatever era your writing in. Be it fantasy: read fantasy, If historical fiction: historical fiction.
Hope this helps! Happy writing!

Barie-ah Hue-en-la said...

You've been working on thus book for - what was it?- four years? You're other "phases" surely didn't last that long. I don't think writing is a phase.
When I can't write I- No, I shouldn't say. I'm a bad example.

Kat Heckenbach said...

You are definitely not alone on this! I've felt the same way. I'm kind of an "obsessive" person, too. When I get interested in something I completely submerge myself, and then move on to something else. I posted a few months ago about the winding road my creativity has taken--from drawing to painting to scrapbooking. I took a couple of years off from all of that to absorb myself in studying Creation science. And then the writing bug hit. And I DO at times worry I'm going to drop my obsession with it and move on.

BUT, there are other times when I see that it's all those previous obsessions combined that have prepared me for writing. And I also see that writing has been an underlying obsession for most of my life. So, I'm not worried when I sit and think rationally about it, but I have felt exactly as you described.

I also think that when we discover the writer inside of us, there are ideas and stories that have been bottled up for a while that are suddenly released. The writing can flood out of us at an extraordinary rate. When it finally levels out, we can feel like we are losing our passion. I don't write nearly as much as I did when I first started. But when I look at what I am actually producing, I realize I haven't slowed down as much as I thought. Plus, I've gotten better at what I'm doing, so the short story that would have taken a few months to write before now takes only a few weeks, or a few days, or even a few hours, and it's at a more polished level, so there is less editing to do.

Just press on--once a writer always a writer.

Chris said...

Heyo, Bruce Light-Walker! :P
I used to be obsessed with LOTR and Spiderman--those obsessions passed, though, because they were a bit childish. Writing, however, stuck. Try not to let your current disinterest discourage you. Like Barie pointed out above, you've stuck at it for five years--why would you stop now?
Also, about the head down plowing through thingy... A famous guru-writing-type person once said "Books aren't written, they're re-written." Perhaps you're worried that your first draft isn't perfect, so you're taking your time with every sentence? I don't know. If that's the case, we write very differently. I'm not a seat-of-the-pants writer, I plot every detail and aspect of my novels out. I have a 17 page outline, okay? LOL Because of that I can skip to any scene of my book and write it--without worrying about making it perfect because I can always come back and tweak it in just the right way.
Maybe what you need to do is outline? I've found that after outlining I can shoot out a much higher word count than when I go into things blindly.
Again, I don't know how you write, so my advice could be useless! I hope you got something out of it, though.

Jessica said...

I completely agree on not calling it writer's block, I guess I have a phobia that if I call it writers block it will remain permanently there,I call it pause for thoughts or deeper thinking because the characters and plot are usually there just not hard at work. These seem to follow after completion of large sections or completions my mind just goes BLANK...sort of. I am just recovering from the same scare. After I finished the editing my novel my story mind seemed to disappear for a few months and the holidays took over but it is now back and I am loving writing again, and knowing that I can write not just scribble about. Remedies besides taking a short break for me included toying with a few other stories and ideas tweaking others into better order and reading, my fingers now itch to be back at the key board and my mind at story writing...well there is my two cents. :)

Storyteller said...

Now we call you "Keeneye" instead of "Batman" *laughs*

One of the things that could be hindering your progress may, I think, be your fear. You have a choice. You chose to give up your Batman and Star Wars obsessions; they did not simply dissipate into thin air. You simply thought, "This is not as fun as it used to be," and your attention gradually lessened.

Do not be afraid that you will loose interest. If writing is something you truly want to do, then decide to do it and do not worry over it anymore. If you do not want to write, then don't. No one will think the less of you. You make the decisions in your life. Do not let fear control you.

As for being in a rut, the best advice I have to offer is to pray about it. Ask Him to give you what you need.

I do hope this helps.

Pyrosian eir said...

writers block... don't think i've ever actually had writers block... i've always had times when i know how to put hte stuff on paper... but the characters aren't doing anything. even if its in the middle of a big scene they'll just pause mid-scene, but then when i give my brain some time the characters unpause and the action continues and i know what they are doing again. its quite wierd.

Anonymous said...

Good words Nathan, IF God wants you to be a writer, he will provide a way.Just give it your level best. :)


Nathan R. Petrie said...

Natasha, I can' write and listen to music. But maybe before hand would work! I'll try it.
I've also tried not writing. I've been doing it way too long lol
Reading, now that's good advice :) I try to pass that on to my friends. Not all of 'em get it lol

Barie, you should tell me what you do ;) It can't be too awful :P
And star wars obsession was more than 5 years ;) But my writing sprung from Star Wars. My first novel was about yoda and stuff. So I'm thinking, and noticing more, that writing was a part of all my obsessions.

Kat, exactly. When I REALLY consider all the facts. It looks more hopeful :) But I'm human, and get down sometimes lol Especially when I'm not writing as much as I think I should be.

Chris, you used to be obsessed with Spider-man? Should I tell Jacob about this? lol
To be honest, I do and have always outlined. I know EXACTLY where the story is going...well...sorta. I know where it will end up and most of the details in between. What's getting to me now is actually writing down what I've outlined. I've noticed lately that when I outline new scenes I get that writing-high while outlining. And then when I stop the creativity is dead and I can't write it. But once I take a break for a few days I can come back and do well enough. So yes, I do outline. But I still don't like skipping. I've been through like...6 drafts LOL and new things always pop up, small things typically that I let slide. So I don't like skipping. I like writing knowing EVERYTHING that's happened, down to the very words used in conversations. I write like a reader...kinda lol

ST, can't say I don't like Keeneye better :) It's much more mature right? LOL
I certainly don't doubt, when I think about it, that I won't be a writer lol It's really the only thing I've ever seen myself doing, and I have been given a talent for it. So I assume, for now, it has God's blessing.

Thanks Millard :)

Barie-ah Hue-en-la said...

Don't say I didn't warn you . . .
I bang my head with badminten rackets, spend hours staring at pictures I've drawn, scream into pillows, play millions of card games, and spend hours on the computer doing a big flat nothing.
I told you it's bad. lol

Melissa Rose said...

I quit and waited for better days. Don't do that anymore! It's awful! I've been waiting for over a year now and the old story has barely budged (if anything it's sunk even deeper into whatever mud is keeping it from moving forward). The only better days I found were a bunch of other writing projects to start and abandon in turn instead. In fact, I started another one three days ago.

Reading is good advice, but you don't necessarily have to stick with whatever is similar to what you're writing. Try mixing it up a bit and reading completely new and different things too.

Also, if you can't write for long periods of time, don't try to force yourself to write for hours. Try to find a shorter length of time that your mind works best for writing and repeat that several times with breaks in between writing sessions. For me, half an hour is usually good, and unless the scene is really flowing, writing continuously past that half hour usually means slowing down and losing interest faster. A twenty-minute writing session, followed by a short break, then thirty minutes of writing some more usually yields more progress for me than writing for a full hour and short breaks are more likely to keep me interested in the story and anticipating writing again.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, if this is your calling, and what you believe you'll be doing for the next few stages of your life, then this 'obsession' will NOT dissapear! I thought that my passion for writing was going to diminish, but it hasn't- and I've been writing for about five years now! My first writing project came out of my obsession for the American Girl dolls. They were having a writing contest, and I entered it. I wrote more and more after that. Now, I'm not so crazy about the AG dolls as I used to be, but I still LOVE writing.

I like to outline, too, and I think it's good to get your 'creative juices' flowing, but I HATE to skip ahead. Sometimes I can't, though. I don't know what will happen with my characters. But when I do skip ahead, I lose all the intrest I had with the part that I was previously writing.

I have listened to music in the past- I still do- while I'm writing. As long as it's, like, a soundtrack for a great movie, like Price Caspian or something, then it will keep me motivated- ESPECIALLY if I'm writing a tense battle scene.

I can't wait to read your book! Keep up the good work, Master Light-Walker!


Galadriel said...

Chris, are you calling LotR 'childish?'
*warns the lady studying Quenya*
Don't stress too much, just dig out the time and write like a NaNoist! Ever heard of Write or Die?

"Stand tall now and proclaim what you have seen, speak in whispered roars..."