Friday, June 25, 2010

Hills, valleys and the occasional snowball

I’m curious about something. I know all writers work differently, but I’ve found that I have a very odd habit in my writing – at least it seems odd and little counterintuitive to me.

Whenever I accomplish something in my writing, I seem to have a temporary deflation of motivation afterwards. You’d think this would work the other way around, and progress would snowball like crazy. Shouldn’t finishing that great scene or overcoming a milestone – say, for an example, hitting the middle mark in your revisions – inspire you to plow ahead and keep making great scenes and get to the end of said revisions?

Not me. I’ve been cranking along for about two months, hit the middle…and my motivation collapsed for a few days. I’ve been playing facebook games for the last three days for HOURS and haven’t done a lick of revising.

What the butt? It’s so strange, because this happens to me on a smaller scale day by day. I finish a scene and I’m really happy with it, and then I just stop working and can’t find the push to keep going. Luckily, in most cases, I’m able to pick up the next day.

I think I’m over my little slump, so I guess I shouldn’t be complaining since it only lasted a few days. Just seems ass-backwards is all!

Does anyone else experience this? Or does finishing a scene or hitting a goal propel you on to your next scene or goal with renewed vigor?

Could be the fact that I’m going to be pitching to agents for the first time in less than a month, and I’m really worried about my capability to write a synopsis, a query or a pitch…but that’s a whole different can o’ worms, now isn’t it?


Amanda said...

I sort-of experience those hills and valleys too. I'll make a lot of progress and then drop off for a while. I think the process is just so exhausting you need to re-energize before hitting it hard again.

scott g.f.bailey said...

The thing is, that brilliant writing/revising is *work* and I, at least, always feel exhausted afterwords and want a break. Also, it's *hard* work having to concentrate at such an intense level and I hesitate to dive back in again sometimes. But diving back in is what we have to do, isn't it? Still, yeah: if I reach a milestone I'm prone to sort of sit back and relax for a day or more. End of Act One? A week off! I also stop writing for about a week right before I write the end of a book. Fear, I'm sure, that I'll fuck it up at the last possible minute. As if there won't be eight rounds of revisions anyway.

The Screaming Guppy said...

Oh, hell, it's always EVEN harder when its the end or some really important moment/scene. I remember when I finished my first novel (now safely under the bed) I spent ALL DAY writing the last page. I'd write a sentence, then get up and walk around, flop on the bed, stare at the wall, whine, rinse and repeat. I called a friend like five times, moaning and groaning, and she said "It's kind of like you're in labor, about to pop out your baby." Heh. So true.

Well, it's nice to know I'm not the only who works this way! Sometime you feel like you're fumbling around in dank dark cave - then people come and shine their flashlights on you! (Terrible metaphor, but whatevs - I'm saving being brillant for other things!)

Thanks guys. :)

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Erin, this happens to me, too, every time I write. Writing is hard work, and I always need breaks after scenes. It's kind of funny - I'll spend days and days thinking about a scene I'm going to write, then I'll write it in one little burst and then spend 5 more days contemplating what I wrote. Then I might move on.

This is normal. If it's how you write, work with it.

I don't think it helps that you know you'll be querying. That's always a big turn-off for me with writing.

Jennifer Shirk said...

That happenes to me too. Sometimes I'm really productive and I'm happy with what I've written in that hour or so and for whatever reason I can't make myself move on. It's like my brain says, "Thank you very much, good night!" LOL

Kayla-Harley Quinn-Page said...

I totally do the same thing. I write when something comes to me btu it makes me so mad because I CAN'T JUST SIT DOWN AND WRITE! I have to wait for something to hit me before I start writing. and then it turns out that I can't use what I thought up until later in the story. I know me and my books probably don't compare to you or your books but I love to write. I'm still young and I'm probably younger than any of the other people commenting but I love to write and I've always wanted to grow up and be a famous writer. I'm going to be a freshman in highschool in august and I know you probably don't give a damn about what I'm saying and you might not even read my whole comment cause i made it so long but I love your blog and I hope to read one of your books one day.

The Screaming Guppy said...


I don't think it matters how old you are, I think ALL writers face the same issues! When I worked on my first manuscript (now hiding safely under the bed) in college, I had the same kind of stuff happen all the time! It took an entire day to write the last PAGE of my story. Heh.

And sometimes we need to be reminded so we don't think we're going crazy...

So thanks for sharing. :)