Friday, March 4, 2011

Pushing through the Writing Doldrums

What do you do when you're sick of the book you're working on? This hasn't happened to me often, but it has on an occasion. In talking to other authors this seems to be a common occurrence for most authors. You get bored of working on the same project, or maybe it just doesn't seem as exciting or interesting as when you first started. Or maybe you think the piece just plain ol' stinks.

There's at least two reasons that I think this happens during the writing process. The first one is that maybe,you're right. Maybe it does stink. Maybe it's boring. There have been times when I've been working on a novel that I have started to get bored with it. When this happens, I have to reexamine my writing, because sometimes I'm bored with it because my writing has turned stale or boring. When that happens, I have to figure out what I've done to make it boring and inject new life into it. Maybe I'm not creating enough tension. Maybe I've portrayed my characters as one-dimensional.  Perhaps, I'm failing to make the setting come alive. So, if you ever start losing interest in your writing, first take a hard look at ways you can improve it to make it more interesting.

However, sometimes we get sick of what we're working on simply because we've been working on it for so long that it has become too familiar to us. It's like listening to your favorite song over and over and over again. You love it maybe the first few hundred times, but after awhile you grow sick of it and you hate it. It's not that the song has magically gone bad, but it no longer holds any appeal to you. If this happens in your writing, you have to fight through it and keep writing until you finish it, even if you think every word you write is junk. Maybe it is junk, but that's what rewrites are for. But once you have it finished, you can breathe a sigh of relief, let it sit in your drawer for a while, and then take a fresh look at it to do your rewrites. Chances are that when you do, you'll realize that it isn't nearly bad as you thought it was and that it fact it's pretty good, or at least it will be once you get your rewriting done.

So, once again, what do you do when you're sick of what you're writing?


  1. Pushing through even when you don't like what you're writing isn't a bad strategy, but sometimes it's better to step away. I'm usually the step-away type, although on occasion I choose to power through.

    Here's an interesting take on the value of stepping away:

    It's really hard to write when I'm not feeling excited about the story. It feels like doing homework. Very drudgerous. I hate that feeling and I don't like associating it with writing. The point is, every writer has to learn for him/herself when to push through and when to step away.

  2. Lana,

    I agree. Sometimes it is best to just leave it alone for awhile and take a break from it. But there's a difference between taking a break and giving up on a piece. I think sometimes we're tempted to completely walk away from a piece we're working on because we've grown tired of it or we're sick of it. Sometimes writing is just simply hard, and the longer we work on a piece, the harder it gets sometimes. So, I guess my point is not to give up on a work just because we're tired or sick of it, especially if it's a piece that at one time or another we had high hopes for. If I've learned anything about writing, to be successful at it you have to be persistent.

  3. Absolutely. Whether you choose to power through or step away for a while, persistence is an absolute must!

    It took me two years to write my novel. Two years of writing, rewriting, deleted scenes, rearranged scenes, tightening, focusing, restructuring, whatever it took. That novel is what finally got me an agent. It's out on submission now. Fingers crossed!