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  1. #1
    Michael V
    Guest

    stuck in a rut. Will a blog help?

    For the last year, I've been stuck in a rut. I can't compel myself to write, as the stories and ideas pile up, I begin a chapter or a short, get frustrated, and stop. Even when I complete something, I get fed up and leave it be. Somebody recommended to me that the best way to break out of it is to write a story a week, and force yourself to put it on a blog, at the same day, so that hypothetically people would be awaiting for it, and the peer pressure would force me to go through it. Would the community here on a whole agree with this? Should I pursue it, or is it seem like an effort in futility.

    Somebody help me out of my rut, please.



  2. #2
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: stuck in a rut. Will a blog help?

    I doubt you have to worry about "peer pressure" as it's unlikely anyone will be reading your blog. The best way to finish something is to write a story you care about. And when you get started just tell yourself that if it sucks you can rewrite it later. Barbers say, "It'll grow back." Writers should say, "I'll get that in editing."

  3. #3
    Frank Baron
    Guest

    Re: stuck in a rut. Will a blog help?

    Maybe you're not cut out to be a writer. Few people are. It takes an inordinate amount of self-discipline.

    There's no magic formula for succeeding at any aspect of this craft/art/business. First drafts can be fun. Everything else is work.

  4. #4
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Re: stuck in a rut. Will a blog help?

    Michael,

    Will it help? Maybe, maybe not. A blog can get you started writing, or it can be a time suck, a way of pretending to write seriously.

    If you think you need deadlines to write, consider joining a local critique group that requires regular submissions. You could also set small goals for yourself:

    write xx hours a day, no matter what
    write xx pages a day
    get this story ready for contest by the deadline of...
    finish just one story/chapter a week

    It's possible you're seeking perfection on the first draft. It's also possible that you're editing yourself while you write. If you really have the drive, the need, to write, you won't let the doubts stop you.

    Jeanne

  5. #5
    Joe Zeff
    Guest

    Re: stuck in a rut. Will a blog help?

    What you need is a reason to finish, and there's no better reason in the world than a deadline. As it happens, NaNoWriMo is about to start, giving you a very tight deadline: 50,000 words in 30 days. If you're serious about wanting to finish what you start, take a look at it.

  6. #6
    Cindy Kay
    Guest

    Re: stuck in a rut. Will a blog help?

    Michael,

    The seeds of a good idea are in your friend's recommendation. The problem is that very quickly the accountabity of a blog audience could wane.

    Jeanne's suggestion of a real life accountablity critique group would have more staying power. Nanowrite is another great idea, although the accountability isn't as strong.

    You can use all sorts of incentives and crutches to get yourself over a hump. I've had a couple periods in which writing felt like a drudgery. I made myself do ten minutes a day (once at the keyboard usually did more) but you can do anything for ten minutes and it builds momentum.

    If I were using the blog idea to encourage disciplined writing, I'd make a deal with myself that I had to write for ten or fifteen minutes on current project to give myself permission to write my blog.

    Ideas are traipsing about, to pluck one and make work for an entire novel is the hard part. There are always saggy parts, difficult parts. But remember, when it's hardest is when you're creating the best stuff, stuff that's beyond your current ability. Be excited when it's hard because you're getting better -- if you push ahead.

    The trick is to figure out where your weaknesses lie and use your strengths to overcome them. Love cheesecake? Buy one at the end of each chapter. Love blogging? Write one at the end of each scene. Do what it takes to get past the humps. They'll keep coming and you need an arsenal to fight them.

    It doesn't necessarily get easier, but you do get more confidence in your ability to overcome the dread spots. At some point, when you're flailing, writing the same scene over and over, you'll get this excited moment, because you'll rememember that this always happens right before the breakthrough that turns a ho-hum scene into something spectacular.

    I'm going on because I've had a major revealtion in my plot and am afraid to start all the necessary changes. I think I'll promise myself a website thinkfest once I get past making the first batch of changes.

  7. #7
    Laura Mollett
    Guest

    Re: stuck in a rut. Will a blog help?

    I do that. Start things over and over again and just never finish. Recently I realized part of the problem is not knowing where I'm going. I think I have a whole story - a basic plot, a beginning and an ending, some neat characters. But really that's just an idea. I'm doing full plot outlines now and it's helping. I realize where I'm stuck, what needs more research or brainstorming or what else I need to learn.

    And it helps keep writing in front of me - even if everyday isn't putting useful words down, I'm still moving forward. That's also why I joined this (and several other) writing boards - so I think about writing instead of wasting my spare time with a game or whatever. I'm also doing Critters (http://www.critters.org/ - I don't know how to make a link here), which I really enjoy. Critiquing helps my own work and it's writing something on a regular basis. I haven't seen Critters mentioned here - anybody else have an opinion on it?

    However, I'm writing for a different reason than a lot of people. I have a career that I enjoy and pays the bills, so I don't have to produce something to make a living. But I was reading about goal-setting (I'm the kind of person that needs goals) and the idea was to imagine yourself 3 years from now looking back over the time. What would you have had to accomplish to make it seem like you did something with the last 3 years so the time was well-spent? (You're supposed to do personal, career and health goals). Anyway, an immediate goal for me is to actually finish one of the stories I've started. Just finishing will be an accomplishment for me and I have the full 3 years to do it. If someone wants to publish - well, that's gravy, but not the base goal (and yes, I understand that getting an agent/publisher is a job in itself). But if I complete the project I'm working on, the 3 years of my life will be well spent.

    Geez, this got long. Sorry. Maybe something in that will help.

  8. #8
    Tom Tuohy
    Guest

    Re: stuck in a rut. Will a blog help?

    Hi Laura,

    I smpathise with you in not knowing where you're going at times. You said,

    "I do that. Start things over and over again and just never finish. Recently I realized part of the problem is not knowing where I'm going. I think I have a whole story - a basic plot, a beginning and an ending, some neat characters. But really that's just an idea. I'm doing full plot outlines now and it's helping. I realize where I'm stuck, what needs more research or brainstorming or what else I need to learn."

    I used to feel that way when writing but now always use a particular method, call it a structure, a spine that holds the whole thing together. That way, I can always get a macro view of the thing when I'm stuck e.g. with the plot, or a character's motivation for some action.

    There's been lots of goood advice offered here and no doubt you'll have taken some of it away with you. My best advice is to adopt a structure that wroks for you. I used the 3-act structure a lot and also a sequencing method to get me to the first stage of the story e.g. to let me know what it's actually about.

    For example, I would normally start with the following sequence:

    1. set up
    2. development
    3. catalyst
    4. complication
    5. crisis
    6. climax

    After that, when I've tinkered around with it for a while to get a set of events that I like e.g. that flow normally into a logical ending, I then begin the actual writing stage.

    You might like to try this just for writing practise e.g. to flex your creative juices.

    best

    Tom Tuohy

  9. #9
    Ray Spengler
    Guest

    Re: stuck in a rut. Will a blog help?

    Michael,

    No mechanical contrivance, no internet tool, no best intentions of friends will ever, has ever made a writer an author. Sure, if you're comfortable with modern devices and those communication tools, you can further your ambition. But first, you need to spend time alone, free of worry, free of life's pressures to get started.

    Document ideas and scenes. Describe characters and places. Set the goal for a piece of writing. Build a file.

    No one says that you need to write the way a TV journalist speaks; never missing a word, always saying the right thing, always ending on a note of inerest or chuckle. Those things are fixed after the raw feed is done.

    Stop listening to other people. What do they know about your needs and problems? Listen to your head on a quiet afternoon - and write.

    Ray

  10. #10
    sam albion
    Guest

    Re: stuck in a rut. Will a blog help?


    maybe try poetry? It's more immediate... or painting... put the stories, or the characters, into another vehicle.. see what happens...

    blogging is good, but, shucks, as others have said- nobody will be hanging on for you to write the next installment, not unless you market yourself to death...

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