Monday, February 28, 2011

What if you lose interest?

Side note: This inevitably happens at least once during a deadline to me.

Other side note: This is not a paid endorsement of Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs, Welch's Fruit Snacks, Starbucks or any other delicious inspirational food listed below.

Last side note: Yes. I said Welch's Fruit Snacks. Try 'em. You'll love them.

Here is a very common scene in my house. I'm in the shower, thinking about my writing and I come up with the BEST IDEA in the WHOLE HISTORY of the world.

Pretty much, they will be casting Brad Pitt and George Clooney in the movie version of my book before my book even hits the store shelves, it will be that good.

So, I rinse the shampoo out of my hair, throw on a pair of sweat pants, run for my laptop, and start crafting the first sentences. I get one chapter done, two chapters done, three chapters done and then I go back and start reading, prepared to sob uncontrollably at the sheer genius that is on the electronic page before me.

But instead, I start reading and before I even finish the first chapter, I've got another BRILLIANT idea that would be potentially even a BETTER story than this one would be! Because really, now that I'm reading back through it, this story is pretty pathetic.

Enter Welch's Fruit Snacks and Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. Consolation food.

Anyone relate??

Sticking with a story through thick and thin is a hard thing to do. Especially once you read back through it. :) I rewrite scenes constantly and one time, I scrapped about six chapters out of a story - I think it ended up being two thousand words I threw away.

That one stung.

If you are in the middle of writing something and you are losing interest faster than icing slides off of hot cupcakes, here's a few tips to try:

* Read back through your work and try to find the point where the story started heading into No Man's Land. Copy the work after that, move it to a new document, then go back to your story and start over from there.

* Get a Frappucino. Not sure why, but this has pulled me out of many a slump. And if you can't get a Frappucino, at least have your characters go get one.

* Get your mom to read through the story and see what her thoughts are. Even if your mom isn't a writer (mine isn't), they tend to have some sort of weird radar detector of what needs to change in your story to keep it moving (mine always does).

* Figure out what it is that is making you lose interest. Do the characters have boring jobs? Do they have boring friends? Are they boring themselves? What is your plot about? Can you describe your plot in two words (and no, WATCHING MOVIES is not a good plot)?

* Set it aside and work on something totally different. If you write fiction, write something nonfiction for a little bit instead.

Finally, if you've read through it thirty times, you've gotten eight Frappucinos, your mom has graciously looked it over and over and over, you've given all the characters jobs that rival Keifer Sutherland in 24, and NOTHING has helped salvage your interest...

Then start working on something new. Maybe you'll pull ideas from your old story, maybe you won't, but the importantly thing is to love your story and be excited about working on it.

HOWEVER. Writing "on demand" is a learned art. And publishers love writers who can write on demand. If your goal is to someday write for a publisher, you need to learn how to write - even if you aren't "feeling" it that day.

What are your tips for sticking with a story??


  1. Lame as it sounds, I write pro and con lists and decide which one sounds most original and most interesting to me and I write that one first. <--Run-on sentence, much? Anyways...the other idea ALWAYS goes into a different folder on my computer, to be written on that day when I have no ideas in my head.I think that any story worth your brain time is a story worth writing. Save it for a rainy day if you absolutely HAVE to write the new idea.

  2. Good thoughts Erynn, and I'm not one to hate on fruit snacks. I ate Carebear fruit snacks during my entire last trimester of pregnancy and they had to be Care Bears. Hubby bought Phineas and Ferb one time instead and oh boy. Not wise. lol

    Anonymous, I like your idea about lists!! That's awesome. Whatever works, you know? Thanks for sharing that tip. :)

    Another thought is something Erynn touched on - when you "delete", don't erase it forever if you aren't absolutely sure that it sucks =P Just move it into another location to clear the clutter, but keep it accesible. That way you can come back one day and you might have a new brainstorm of how to make that story amazing later. It could just be a timing thing you know?

  3. Great advice Erynn! Your post spurs me to another question:) do you guys have a file keeping system? How do you organize it?
    Like you Erynn, one thing I tend to do is rewrite past scenes. So I'll have somehing written on the comp & have an idea of how to change a scene. I scribble down on my phone or alphasmart & then when I get to my computer I don't know where to put it? Do you leave the rewritten scene in a new file of set it just before or after that first scene in your rough draft?

    Writing a book sounds like building a relationship with learning to stick through thick and thin

  4. I seem to have the problem of getting ideas at inopportune times & scribbling something down for later. Then when I have time to write more it seems like a lame idea. I never know what to do with that?

    Here's a question for a post:
    Whats the first thing to do when you have an idea ?
    And in what order do you work on a book? Characters or plot first? A hard thing for me is I have threads of ideas but I don't know what to do with them & where to go next!
    It scares me at times. I read all the time & think " I wish I could do that" sit down & try to & start to feel panicked. I dont get it.

  5. Thanks for answering my question! It helped to read your tips :)

  6. Goodness, this is SO perfect. I've been complaining about this for WEEKS! Thanks sooo much!