Monday, July 7, 2008


I've been thinking about this post for a while. It's something that I would like to talk about. At first I thought it was only me, but I've talked to several people and they all have this problem.

Inspiration, aka the muse. She's a fickle friend, and one that often leaves you. It's the fire that drives you to write, the passion that makes you love what you do and want to see the thing to the end. Every writer and wanna-be writer knows what I'm talking about. You get that idea and your pulse quickens and you feel your adrenaline surge and you just can't wait to get started.

But, what I've seen happen a lot is the inspiration goes away. Sometimes early on. For those who feel dedication and love and such, sometimes halfway through the book, but eventually it seems that writing becomes a chore...and everybody hates chores so why would you want to write? Let's go watch some Smallville and give the muse a rest. We'll write tomorrow.

Tomorrow you say, geez, man. I still don't want to write. Oh well, I'll go read this book I've been wanting to read and go wash some dishes and tomorrow I'll do a big writing day to make up for what I missed today.

And the next day you don't.

And the next day you don't...

...and eventually you stop writing entirely. That's happened to me more times than I can count. I have a whole ton of stories that I started, but never got around to finishing, some of them I didn't know what I wanted to do with them, some them I knew exactly, but all of them eventually became no fun to write.

I thought it was just me, but one of my college friends was talking to me the other day -- she's a creative writing major -- and she said that she gets like that too.

That's why I've been writing so many random genre stories lately: A Lover Scorned was a kinda noir-ish murder mystery, Silence and Darkness was a horror-ish story, and Detective Sheen is sci-fi, which I've never written before. I've been trying variety to give the muse other flavors and make her want to work, but I still lose interest.

So this is kind of a discussion question for those of you who want to participate, how do you finish things? How do you keep interested long enough to finish the whole project, whether it be a short story or a novel?


PJ Hoover said...

Hmmm. Maybe this is a bonus of being older :) We don't have all those college and teenage distractions.
I've tossed lots of ideas around in my head, but of stories I've actually started, I've finished all but one (which was way too depressing for me).

TwoPlus said...

I used to be like that, but now I treat all my writing as a task from the beginning. I have found from experience that the muse will desert you!

Approaching the novel as if you would approach an essay really works for me, and doesn't stifle the muse!

I also find if you chop the whole thing into manageable chunks, and tackle one chunk at a time, it doesn't become so much of a chore :)

Jaye Patrick said...

Random stories are good; you'll learn a lot from writing in different genre, even if it's what you truly love to write.

I have stacks of unfinished work. A quarter or halfway through, major plot faults appeared, it had a sameness about it, or the Muse through up her hands and said, "well, this sucks."

Initially, I used Holly Lisle's Mugging the Muse to get me out of the doldrums. Now, I go back and look at the beginning. I try to see why I thought it was a good idea, and to remember the ending I was looking for. Sometimes, that's all the impetus I need to finish.

If I can't make it work, into the recycler it goes. I never delete such works because no writing is ever wasted. One scene, character, dialogue, concept in a recycled book - or story - may work beautifully in a current story.

Jason said...

PJ: You may have a point. Older people seem to be more calm and settled down. Teens usually wanna live life and don't want to be tied down much. All the same, I just wondered if other people had this problem. It's pretty cool that you've finished everything you've ever written.

Two plus: Hmm...I might have to try that.

Jaye: I'm glad I'm not alone in the stacks of unfinished work. :D That's an interesting take -- remember why I wanted to write it in the first place. I'll have to do that next time I feel like quitting. Also, I never throw anything away either. I always save that stuff. No writing is ever wasted.

beth said...

I had the worst time finishing my latest manuscript. I would just stare at the screen, then play on the internet. But I finally just made myself type one sentence, then another, then another, until I was back into the swing of things.

My biggest problem now isn't so much that inspiration doesn't hit--it's there, if I just make myself write--it's actually getting the energy to write after working all day!