So, as perfect as that title would be for another poem, it’s not. XP This is really just a random post about me rambling on about writing. I have, on my about page, two counters. One is stagnant stories, with a value of thirty-four, and the other is wasted words, with a value of seventy-six thousand six hundred and ninety-eight. What do these two counters mean? Well, I’ll get to that in a second.
As a writer, especially when you are first beginning, a lot of things can make it difficult to continue. Lack of inspiration, no encouragement, comparison, too many distractions, and the dreaded writer’s block among other things can all be extremely discouraging. As a writer myself, when I first started writing seriously, I ended up giving it up for over half a year, because of a combination of the above situations. This shouldn’t be the case. Believe it or not, there are fixes for each one of those cases. In this post, I’ll be covering lack of inspiration.
If you haven’t already guessed it, my stagnant story counter is the number of full-fledged novels (at least they were intended to be full-fledged novels) that I’ve started and quit. That’s a lot. In every novel that I started I had devoted time and effort into thinking different elements out. But I just ended up not writing them. Why? Lack of inspiration. And it’s no small amount of words I’ve wasted on them either. 76,698 comes from the novels that I found. I probably missed at least half of that thirty-four. That’s a lot of discarded time and effort if you ask me. In fact, it is extremely hard hitting when, as a writer, you’re sitting there, staring at the blinking cursor, groaning internally because you can’t write, and someone else announces the successful completion of his/her novel. All this pain for lack of inspiration, is it really worth it?
Now, before I continue, I probably have to clear something up. Half of you, by now, I’m sure, are yelling at me that it’s not always “lack of inspiration” that brings a story to a grounding halt. In fact, it could be any of the reasons I mentioned above. What I’m doing is I’m generalizing lack of inspiration to not mean lacking inspiration, but motivation. So really, I should probably use unmotivated. It’s less words anyway. XP
What happens when you’re unmotivated? Does the story just go straight into the trash with the rest of the failures? Firstly, nothing should ever go into the trash. I have stagnant stories, not trashed stories. This means that I can pick them up again at any time. I’m not likely to, but I have that option. Secondly, no one likes to broadcast their failures. But just because someone is announcing the completion of their one hundred thousand word novel does not mean that he/she did not have twenty failures before it. In fact, more than likely, anyone who has finished writing a complete novel has multiple stories in stasis. Comparing yourself to other writers is never a good idea anyway.
So we’ve got over being depressed about lack of motivation, but how do you tell when to put a story on the stagnant shelf? Because surely all stories at one point or another were put on hold. And in that, you would be completely true. At any point a writer is prone to a conglomeration of multiple incidents that halt his/her writing temporarily. That is the key. There is a difference being tired of writing a story and being tired of writing in general. Believe it or not, it is possible to get tired of the characters and world that you’ve so specially crafted. Sometimes you need a break, a change of atmosphere. But you’ll find that if the story isn’t stagnant, the desire to return to writing it will slowly build up until you have to sit down and add another four thousand words or so.
The final point I have to make is this, and it’s a secret, so listen closely.
The words aren’t actually wasted.
Gasp! What? Impossible. Not even the slight chance that a stagnant novel might be picked up again could allow me to say that. And you’re perfectly right, but I still stand by my statement. Wanna know why? The reason is simple. Whether or not the novel turned out, the idea that spawned it still stands. Not only that, but it’s experience. As much as I hate to say it (since I hate grindy work), just writing stuff, whether it’s good, gives you experience. Somewhere in there you’ll do something you like, and you can carry that over to your final project so that it’s a culmination of your different efforts and learned lessons. So, wasted words? Hardly. In fact, not at all.