The creative process looked at emotionally - Tips needed

Hi,

some may have read my contributions at the writing contest.
Lately with some feedback by @SteveAdamo I managed to figure out the structural side of my aspirations on how to write a novel.
This topic is public because I am looking for any sort of feedback now in regards to another side of the process of writing.
And as we have some professional/talented writers here among us I would like to discuss your experiences and maybe we can help each other a bit.

Its not only about writers block but about a greater panoply of arising difficulties,
but if you would prefer to skip the following wall of text, feel free to just tell about the hurdles you met and maybe share your ways to overcome them.

Okay so onwards with business. I’ll take the plunge and let you know that my biggest trouble is - inconveniently - everyday life. I am working full time. Lately I managed to free up some of my leisure time, but I cannot bring myself to seriously work on the novel.
Obviously - figuratively there is a lot of emotional dead freight, which prevents my beautiful balloon of creativity to float as freely as it should.

The usual suspects like self-doubt (Am I talented enough? Will my creation be good enough?) are surprisingly insistent, but I am pretty dogged myself if I want something, so that is something I can handle. If anyone needs hints on how to fight these inner demons I might be able to help. One thing that helps is to find an anchor, depending on how you tick that might be something like “This idea is so important someone has to tell it.” or “I am doing this only for myself, its not important what others might think.” or “I need to write to become better at it.”

But the current deal breaker I am facing is… it is not required of me to write.
My motivation to pursue goals in life derived from necessity.
Early on I identify what I want and what is needed to get there
and somehow with the novel I want to come to life I do not manage to … want it enough?
My attempts the last weeks have been half assed, so I am putting the question out there to you.
Do you have any tips on what to do, to really want something?
I must find a way not only to “want” to write, but to “need” to write!

Well and if you don’t have any tips in this regard feel free to give any motivational tips you might have,
or you might want to address your own (or a friends ;-)) troubles within the creative process.
Like how difficult name finding sometimes is.

Hopefully you folks won’t mind me posting this, but I know when I am at my wits end and when to ask for another perspective. Putting this out here was not an easy decision. In itself, writing this already is a way to strengthen my want of writing. Maybe someone has an idea/argument that is even more helpful - and if that is so, then asking you all will have incredibly paid off; that is what I hope.

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Motivation is the hardest part of anything, you need to be disciplined and focussed with your time - this will also work on the whole ‘not having enough time’ aspect of something. You’re not alone here don’t worry, life is distracting and I imagine you will have great difficulty finding people who capitalise on every single second of every day.

The reality is it is very likely your first work will be awful, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have written something. How many people can say that they have written a book? Irrespective of the quality or the message, it is yours and it will always be yours.

I think writing is very much a labour of love, it’s unlikely you’re ever going to be in a situation where you have to do it. At least … having to do it creatively and for your own ends.

The only thing I think you can do is be disciplined. Set yourself a certain amount of time each day and stick to it. You will have to draft, numerous times, and then some more, and then a little bit more … even then you might hate what you have.

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I remember reading a Terry Pratchett interview where he said that he would set himself a daily goal of 1000 words and then sit down write until he had completed it , good or bad.

I know from my own experience that if left to my own devices I find any number of more ‘important’ things to be doing rather than the thing I want to achieve and also the day to day business of life provides endless opportunities to deprioritise getting on with ‘The Project’.

The most helpful technique that I have found (works for me - mostly, your mileage may vary) is to remove choice from the equation entirely. Schedule a specific hour everyday to write and during which time you will do nothing else. This way it is out of your hands choice-wise, there is no mental discussion or alternative, no wriggle-room where you can negotiate your way out of it. The time set aside is just that; set aside, protected. Even if you just sit and stare at the wall and daydream, make sure you do nothing else! Whether you create good or bad, flexing the muscles and reinforcing the habit of producing is the goal.

However, as with most of these things, it comes down to how you push your own buttons and how you manipulate your own worst tendencies.

Good luck

T

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What I found has helped me move past the whole want vs need, motivation, set aside time thing was an event called NaNoWriMo.
Basically, I have some of the same problem as you. I have time to do things like write, but getting the motivation to actually sit down and do it was difficult.
Enter NaNo. It is an event put on by the Office of Letters and Lights (nanowrimo.org) every November (and smaller ones through the year) where basically, the goal is to write 50,000 words in a month. There are group meetings you can attend if you want, you can write by yourself, however you want to do it.
Basically, it’s a specific goal, with rewards at the end if you finish (provided by various sponsors), and their whole motto is “No Editing”, where they just are trying to encourage people to forget about how good their writing is, and instead focus on just getting words down on paper.
So I’d encourage you to look into that, but more specifically, focus on just getting something on paper. Forget about whether it’s good or not. In fact, maybe as you write each page, save it and make a new page, so you can’t go back.
And yeah, setting aside a specific time to write, and not allowing yourself to do anything else during that time can be a huge help.

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And that is just the thing. There are not a lot of things one really “must” do.
It was incredibly difficult to become a coder with my educational background, but I jumped through all the hoops that were necessary to be jumped, because I wanted it so much.
This “want” is the thing I am looking for, to succeed I have to strengthen it.

I had heard of nanowrimo before and believed it was a USA only event, but when looking into it now I saw there are nearly 10 000 German participants and its truly international. There is a certain someone I had to promise to that I will take part this November if I do not manage to seriously get my writing up til then.

@Geoffers747, @TobiasSabathius and @Lomico: thank you very much for the great feedback.
I probably will try out a mixture of a word count target and a certain time set aside, maybe if I make it a routine it might really work.

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love this… awfully profound, for such a young whipper-snapper… :smile:

@PDanford, many of us have read your work via the Writer’s Workshop, and its clear you have the talent/knack for writing… my only meager advice, outside the wonderful feedback you’ve already received, would be to look at the process from a “big picture” perspective…

i know im battling with the same issues in a similar situation, and i find that if i approach the entire process, knowing what i want to accomplish in the end, that i can make my steady (hourly/daily) progress and not feel so overwhelmed by the scope of the entire project…

sometimes i find that i cant see the forest for the trees, and it helps me slow down, and appreciate what i can tackle right now, as opposed to everything i know must be tackled eventually… :wink:

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@SteveAdamo speaking of the writers workshops, when do those start up again? I’ve been meaning to ask, but didn’t know where too.

I’ve also found @PDanford, that things like the writing workshops/competitions help motivate me/make me want it. When there’s a prize at the end, even if it’s just a title, that helps, and contests also have parameters, which makes writing easier since you’ve got a set point to finish at. One of the things that drove me crazy the first few times I tried to write was not knowing how long to write for, so things like nano, and contests, have been great for me, cause it gave me a goal to work towards.

And now a horrible joke:

What did the Vulcan writer say as a farewell?

Write Long and Publish!

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good question! :smile:

as soon as a few more spare cycles present themselves, i’ll get around to blowing the dust off this competition… i would like to get it started back up in maybe a week’s time? i’ll post more in those specific threads shortly… :+1:

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Wow, I think you really put into words what I think all the time. :slight_smile: Thank you for sharing, and I hope you find the wanting!

For me it’s a matter of
a.) being in practice enough so the effort does not get in the way of the idea (lower barrier to entry)
b.) wanting to portray something enough to get over the barrier to entry

Some things that I find helpful:

I have not found the knack of picking writing consistently over other, everyday things, alas. Actually, Tom said something similar to me right before he started Radiant–that he and Tony kept trying to write a game at the end of the day, in all their spare time after a full time job, and just couldn’t make themselves. Because 89% of the time, writing and coding are both work, and who would want to work after working all day, especially when you could watch TV or play other people’s games instead?

And you know the rest of the story. :wink: I suspect that quitting their jobs and telling everyone in the world that they were writing a game was sufficient motivation for the rest.

I’d love to know if you find another solution, though. :slight_smile:

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http://jimbutcher.livejournal.com/

:scream:

what? where? why was this not brought to my attention sooner?

begins to read frantically

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Well from the feedback I got here I decided to go for a mixed approach of a set time and a target word count. Breaking the outline down into smaller fragments will be the first matter at hand now.
When I know how it works out for me I’ll tell about it here :smile:

I - I just

Woohoo!

Thanks :blush:

Great Tips - I’ll be sure to mind them, was pondering taking days off…

[quote=“sdee, post:9, topic:4933”][…]
And you know the rest of the story. :wink: I suspect that quitting their jobs and telling everyone in the world that they were writing a game was sufficient motivation for the rest.

I’d love to know if you find another solution, though. :slight_smile:

[/quote]

Well that was outright cheating wasn’t it? Heh no, I am happy companies can be kickstarted like that, but I fear this road is not open to me with just an idea for a novel.
(Well right its more like a world with many stories to tell, but I seriously need to level up a lot to become skillful enough for my own creations)

I read it and I only knew TANSTAAFL (There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch), but alongside TANFL there is some important information in there.

Thank you for the great feedback @SteveAdamo, @sdee and @Lomico and everyone else - I feel much more motivated and hope I can report back with a successfully established writing routine soon.

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It is funny that I should stumble upon this topic now, as I am currently trying get my grades up in school. I now that that is not really the same situation as your in, but this topic does tie into staying motivated, not procrastinating and working hard. All of which, as it turns out, are essential succeding in school. After conducting some very exstensive research (I did a google search) I found this article on staying motivated with goals and I found it to be very helpful

http://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2013/07/19/how-to-stay-motivated-and-accomplish-anything/
The second and third step seem espacially important in your situation. I’ve found through personal experience that it is so easy to stop right when things get a little challenging. If you lose sight of what you are working towards then you are basically screwing yourself. You really need to right down your reasons, and actually spend a while thinking about them and making sure that you get emotionally attached to the project. Like you were saying before, you don’t write simply because you don’t have to. You have to find some way to get you involved, like when a parent makes their kid pay for their own stuff to make it more meaningful to them and so the actually care about it (which is super annoying by the way) whatever it is that makes you want to write, hold on to that. It’s impossible to overcome adversary if you have nothing worth fighting for. As for the third step, making smaller goals is so important. Even if you don’t know how your going to get to the end you will be fine if you have 2 or 3 milestones set up for the future. And take pride in the small victories. Even just sitting down to write and then leaving in five minutes because you can’t think of something is awesome, because you are building good habits for the future. Feel good about what you are able to do, and continue pushing yourself towards your next goal.

P.S. I’m not really sure if you needed any of those thoughts, but it actually really helped me to think about it
P.P.S. sorry for all of the typos I’m writing this on my iPod at 1 in the morning so I should probably get some sleep
P.P.P.S I’m sure that your novel will be great cause your writing here on the forums was really good :smiley:

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Well just because I started this thread it should not only be about me!
The tips that you linked to are truly great and important and yes point 2 and 5 combined are in a way what we are doing with this thread and writing to each other, motivating ourselves through it. The positive feedback of others even helps to strengthen it!
I never write by hand though, I always just type, but each person is different.

About your studying:
One thing I found is that if the goal is as unspecific as “my future job” it really helps to break it down to the minimum required prerequisite.
When I was a youngster my parents did not try to coax me into any specific direction, but my future became clear to me when I got my C64=
Besides gaming I also started coding, just for myself, just for fun - yes I was weird like that.
In retrospective I made it a lot more difficult to achieve my goal because I did have bad grades in basic school, that did cost me 2 years in catching up and improving my situation.
So of course I wanted to become a coder and I had a look at the different ways to enter the industry, the most common way was to study IT, but that would have at the very least required 7 years more of my life and money that my family did not have.
Thankfully there was another way that only took about 3 years, but it was incredibly demanding, more so at the end when our class learned that we were among the last that were educated in that specific technical profession and that the examining board had the order to fail as many candidates as possible.
But I did choose this profession because its my calling and I frequently revisited my reasons, coded for fun - if it would have stopped being fun I believe I would have changed my course.

So even when its demanding, if you like what you do you will succeed.
I don’t want to do writing because I am unhappy about what I achieved - its my other calling and over time I let it lay waste - for much too long.

Now getting grades up is very difficult, because its not one specific goal you want to achieve, but many tiny goals all combined by one common reason.
There is a difference - a huge difference - between truly understanding facts and just memorizing information.
Within the area you are good at it seems so easy to learn everything, but beware the trap of missing details!
You might need to memorize historical and seemingly useless dates, don’t discard this, examine it thoroughly.
You might need to either know “the individual truth” your teachers want to read, or you must know how to back up your facts in a way that your teachers must accept them. The first route is easier, the second is more satisfying.

Also do not avoid the areas you are really bad at, address them specifically, improving from a 6 to a 3 (or F to B) is much easier than from a 3 to 2 or 1 (B to A) and will incredibly affect your average.

It truly helps to learn at least roughly the range of occupation you might want to get into later, so research that and thus learn which grades are essential.
Being good just for goodness sake is in itself incredibly hard - find a more tangible goal to work towards and all becomes much easier.

Thank you for your support and good luck getting that grades up :slight_smile:

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So the end of the year is coming closer and NaNoWriMo us upon us next month.
I have managed to write a lot more and improve my speed, on my best days I can do a bit over 20K characters and at evenings after work I can pretty easily shake out 5K characters.
For that I also have to thank this forum.

But although the desire to write is now consistently there, sometimes I just find myself unable to sit down and write.
Especially when I wrote a lot the day before or had a tough day at work.
So okay - that is of course because I reached my stress threshold and need to relax and chill out a bit.

I’d love to hear your tips and approaches about these two questions:

  1. Pushing on, how do you get yourself to write even when you are stressed out?
  2. Power chilling, which is your preferred method to get your mind relaxed?

Also sometimes after having written a part I especially like I feel like a squirrel on speed, which is nice but does prevent me from pushing on. Its positive stress but its putting me above the threshold that allows my mind to work effectively.
So how do you “get down” when you are too hyper to be productive?

Any feedback is appreciated sometimes its the most basic things that help a lot!

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Find what “shuts off” your mind. for me, its games like Civ or such. I find myself hitting a zen type mindstate. So find whatever it is (reading, cooking, cleaning, playing music or games, etc) that gives you a change of pace, just to let your mind settle down and change gears. then you can get back into it.

also, in terms of writing itself, try writing something non-associated with whatever you’re working on. sometimes our minds just need to step away from a story for a while to recover, so if you absolutely want to keep writing, do something silly, or off-topic, or just completely different than what you normally do

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Those are very practical suggestions. And yes I love gaming, but with that the danger is that I cannot snap out of it. Maybe I’ll try setting an alarm next time.
Also writing something different is a great idea… I was not brave enough to try this yet but I might do so next time I get too squirrely :slight_smile:

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Congrats! That’s awesome!

Editing what I wrote the day before sometimes helps. For me, editing has a lower bar to entry, and if I’m editing a paragraph, sometimes it’s natural to just want to keep going.

Also, having someone who really can’t wait to read what you write next can be motivating, if you have a good critique buddy!

Good luck with Nanowrimo!!! :smiley:

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Oh I never went back here.
Ok so I “won” NaNoWriMo by reaching my word count goal and I nearly finished my novel, but then the distractions became a tad bit too brutal.
Turns out organizing a move takes so much time that creativity is really put to a stop, at least for me.
So I thought “Lets just have a small break for christmas and family.” then whoops turns out we gotta/want to move and in a blink half a year is gone.

Anyway I finished the move and shook out the next 1000 words last sunday, should be only about 8000 words left to reach the end of the novel…

Important advice for everyone that faced the same motivational problems I did face at the beginning:
Follow all the tips that you find practical and helpful - it does pay off.
Once you jumped all the hurdles they mostly stay jumped!

In other words, since the spark was kindled and my motivation raised I did miss writing during the last six months, so it even works long term!

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