Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group

So, Mr. Cavanaugh, you say you want to start an Insecure Writer's Support Group. 

You say that the purpose of this group is to 'share' and 'encourage'.

Okay. I can do that. 

What do I feel insecure about? 

Honestly, it might take less time to talk about what I am secure about.

But...right now...I'm afraid I will never finish writing another story.

I have started four or five stories with different ideas, all at different lengths, but I get to a certain point and then - BAM! - nothing.

I run out of story.

I know I have said this before but I don't want to be a 'one-hit-wonder'.

I finished my first book because it was vital.

The question is how do I make my other stories just as vital?

Well, thanks for listening and feel free to leave me some inspiration.

I can't wait to visit some of you to see what y'all are insecure about!


  1. Besides a Legend of Zelda fanfiction I wrote in high school (and a few stream of consciousness fantasy stories when I was in elementary school), the story that was just contracted is the only one I've ever finished.

    No pressure, right?

    I found what helped with that was writing a big chunk of the middle, the end, and then the majority of the time I spent stiching those pieces together. Then editing out inconsistencies.

    But the lure of a fresh new story was always there, tempting me away.

  2. I've found myself in the position you describe many times and the only way through for me has been to keep writing even though I know what I'm writing isn't very good. Getting to the end with pages and pages of rubbish (in my own estimation)still gives me a better platform to work from than blank pages. There's just something about getting to the end before starting to rewrite that takes the pressure off somehow. I can't really explain it but even if you go off on a tangent or leave things unclear, having a complete draft can really change things around.

    Moody Writing

  3. You will! I'm sure you will! There was a time I had a lot of story starts... And oddly, fan fiction was also MY saving grace--the reason? I dived into backstory of the Harry potter stuff which meant I knew how it ended... I learned that for ME, I have to know the ending before I start--I am flexible to change it if I come up with a better one, but I have to have a direction... i've never NOT finished a story I knew the ending for--lots of rewrites needed, sure, but that makes all the difference for me. (I don't outline, but I do a timeline)

  4. BE proud you finished the first one; Congrats!
    Go for a walk, do something else you love. The light bulb moment will come~

    I love the Lucy booth ;D

  5. i know what you mean!
    i have a huge starter file too.
    here is a suggestion:
    pick one to work on, then ask yourself what happens. think of possibilities, like a flowchart. if this happens, then this or this could happen. notes and jotting down events lead to details.
    this is where you might consider planning for inspiration over pantsing =)
    (math geeks, a la moi, love flowcharts!)

  6. I've had that happen too, and I've found a few things that help - story maps, oddball characters or situations, and the beginning, middle, and end chunks mentioned by Renee.

    A story map is really fun to make, and at first feels like a playful distraction. Bascially, get out a piece of paper, and draw a map for your story. Draw in mountains, rivers, bridges, obstacles, and name them as creatively as possible (or not) - "Cliffs of Despair" "River of Tears" "Bridge of Friendship" "Villain Swamp" and use it to draw your way through the slump. I don't even draw well, and I still like this activity for freeing up my standstill moments.

    Oddballs are just that - take a character from a tv show (I used Emeril from Emeril Live on the cooking channel once) and figure out how they could fit in your story. Tweak their character, throw them in for comic relief, a new villain, a plot device, anything. Same thing with oddball situations. I couldn't figure out how my character was going to get from Septily to the Isle of Destiny (yes, I don't name things well), and ended up having her rescued by a passing trade ship, fighting a sea serpent, and then flying off on a griffin. This of course, won't work if you are writing something based in the real world - but you can have a clown car nearly run your character over, an old flame show up at an awkward moment, etc.

  7. I say go ahead and write an ending now---or at least sketch it out and make it so awesome that you just HAVE to get there!

  8. Oh my gosh, I could so relate to what you are saying. I've finished two, but I'm still rewriting those and starting another. Will any of them finally be finished? One day. I don't know when yet, but one day. I'm sure your other "starts" will too. One word at a time. Right?

  9. Maybe you could commit to writing 500-1,000 words (or whatever you are comfortable with) on at least one story (pick one for the commitment) every week. You can still work on the other stories (B, C, D), but not until you've reached your goal for A (revisions don't count, must be new material). You have to finish eventually that way, right? Whatever method you choose, you did it once, so you know you can do it again. Good luck!

  10. Renee - No pressure? Are you kidding me! Ugh! I've never been the best at sewing but you never know until you try. Thank you.

    mood - You're right of course. Writing something is better than nothing. Thank you.

    Hart - Knowing the ending would be helpful. I didn't know what the end would be for the first one, just that that Guy and Girl got together. Maybe its needed this time around. Thank you.

    Karen - I could try that. Of course if my husband sees me talking to myself I could be in big trouble! Thank you.

    Ella - I'm hoping for a giant light bulb. New Year's Eve Ball size! Thanks for coming. It felt like a Lucy moment!

    Math Geek aka Tara - Flowchart? Are you going to help me with that? Of course we are still under water here and you are talking about flowcharts! Thank you!

    Tyrean - I've never heard of a story map. It does sound kind of fun. I do write stories in the 'real' world right now but there is a paranormal story just waiting to be told.

    Nicki - That has potential. Really good suggestion. Thank you!

    Shari - One word at a time. I'm just looking for a Buy-One-Get-One deal! Thank you.

    Isis - Very good points and a good idea. Thank you.

    Thanks for all the great advice everyone!

  11. That was my fear last year - one-book-wonder. I never even intended to write another one, but when everyone asked about a sequel, the pressure was on. And since I finished it, I know you will finish another story as well!

  12. Yeah I am still working on my first and I have hit the bang...dead in the water, so I put it aside and trust it will come back once this lazy ass Muse of mine decides to come back from vacation :)

  13. I feel the same way at the moment--I finished my first novel in February, and started several new projects since then; all of them stopped at a certain point. I've committed myself to finishing another novel by November, but I'm not feeling much of the drive I had before, like all the inspiration has dried up.

  14. I have problems finishing my stories, too. I was always a pantser, I just wrote when the mood hit (which was often) and I wrote whatever came to mind, without really thinking about plot, etc. However, with my current WIP, I tried something different. I created the world, made sure I knew the characters down to what type of underwear they wore (lol), and *gasp* made an outline. I'd never done that before b/c I thought writing was about creating and by outlining the entire plot, I was taking the creativity/fun out of it. Boy, was I wrong.

    The outline has helped tremendously. It's not set in stone, but if I'm lost or don't know what to write I can come back to it. Of course, I still haven't finished the story, mostly b/c the 'Suckage Fairy' keeps intervening and telling me that the whole thing is crap. But, I keep coming back to it b/c the characters won't leave me alone. :-)

    As to other ideas...keep a folder or notebook. You can write a couple pages, get the gist down, and come back to it when you've completed the first story. Easier said than done, I know, but it works!

    Good luck and sorry for the extremely long post!

  15. Alex - Maybe if you dared me!
    Great idea you had here. See how much people love to help!

    Siv - I sincerely hope your Muse returns with overflowing cups of words for you!

    The Golden Eagle - Wow. That really is exactly how I feel. I hope we both shake it. Thanks for coming by.

    Tara - I have heard that a lot. Creating an outline. I think about it. It sounds good. But I haven't been able to do one yet. I guess I feel like I would be locked in but you're right. I wouldn't be.

    As for the other ideas I have them all on the computer. I have to write them down because I'm old and I'll forget them in a day or two.

    Thanks for your advice everyone. Some great ideas flowing in here!

  16. Wow, you got a lot of great suggestions here. Definitely don't give up. Sometimes it just needs to cook a little in your mind. I bet the endings to all of them will hit you at the same time!

  17. I"m like that too. I had a couple of false start novels. Then I completed one, tried to find an agent, failed, and stuck it in the drawer. After that I had two more false starts that fizzled. Then I completed another novel. It isn't in the drawer yet, but it probably will be soon. Already working on something else and have no idea if I'll finish it. If not, I'm sure I'll start something else.

    I don't really know what makes the difference between starting a story and finishing one, but for me when I get stuck I know it's time for some conflict. Whatever is the worst thing that could happen to you main character at that moment is exactly what you should do to them. It will get you unstuck pretty quickly, because you'll have to figure out how to get them out of that mess. :)

  18. Plow through and finish another one even if you feel like you're writing something you'll throw out later. Once you get done you get polish.

  19. Tonja - Is that a promise or a threat? I'll take it either way! Thanks for coming.

    L.G. - Man, you are right. That is a great idea! I need to do something evil! Why didn't I think of that? Thank you!

    Susan - Thank you. It's true. We just need to keep going.

    Awesome everyone. Thank you!

  20. Enjoy the 2 cents of a guy whose never pushed much beyond a 5-10 page short story.

    Try writing scenes and moments your characters are having.
    Don't worry about connecting them into a coherent story.
    One or two of the scenes will develop into a basic plot that will become your outline.

    When outlining think 3 Act Play. Act One: Meet everyone and explain the goal/purpose/conflict. Act Two build up the story add a couple monkey wrenches. Act 3 loss, resolution, and conclusion. TV,

    Stage, and most fiction have been using a three act structure forever. The Viewers / watchers are comfortable with it and expect it.

    From everything I've read and listened to on writing this next bit is crucial:

    Schedule a period of time every day to write then sit and write. If your story isn't coming just write anyway. Treat it more like a job.

    Good luck.

    PS Sorry I couldn't make the blood drive. Hope it picked up throughout the day. I did make an appt at NY Blood Center in Nanuet, They are open full time every Tue and Fri and till 2:45 PM on Thu. Call for appt. 800-933-2566

  21. When I hit a wall, I think of Jack London's quote: "You can't wait for inspiration to happen. You have to hit it on the head with a club." Just keep on.

    I see you're a chocolate enthusiast? Thus, I'm following.

    Co-Insecure Writer Support Group Member and Chocoholic at Life by Chocolate,

  22. I have this issue too, and I write through it. It isn't great stuff, but I can revise a finished novel. Don't give up though. I like the notebook idea Tara mentioned. I might have to try that myself.

  23. I think the trick is finding that passion for your new story--the same passion you had for your first one.

  24. I think Lynda R Young said it perfectly. You have to write a story that inspires you and one you have an uncompromising passion for. No matter how good it sounds, if you don't have that driving desire, then just write down your idea as an intended future project and then try to find that project that truly hits the spot.

  25. Well you know, you just need to take Dory's advice in "Finding Nemo" and replace 'swimming' with 'writing'. You might think you are running out of story, but what if you aren't? Sometimes we begin a story and suddenly we hit that magic wall we love to call Writer's Block. Or we think we've run out of steam, don't know where we're going with the whole thing and just toss it in the circular file a.k.a. the garbage can. But, now here's a crazy idea, what if you kept writing even though you think there is no where to go? I bet you find one of the characters is just waiting for you to call their bluff. I bet they're holding something back and are waiting to see if you have the guts to wait it out. Ya never know. :D I'm a new follower by the way! Nice to meet you.

  26. Marcfdvd - Thank you. Very good information especially the last part. I have to stick to a schedule. I'm glad you are going to a blood drive. It doesn't have to be mine! Thank you!

    Robyn - I'd like to hit it with something, that's for sure! Welcome chocolate lover. Welcome.

    Kari Marie - Revise a finished novel sounds great. Thanks for stopping in.

    Lynda - I know it. I have to find it. Thank you.

    Murees - You are both right. I need my passion back. I wonder if I can order that online? Thanks for coming.

    Caledonia - I love Dory! Great advice. Welcome and thank you.

    Thanks everyone!

  27. Hi Heather,

    Stopping by for the Insecure Writers Group. I completely understand your predicament. All I can say is "Just Keep Swimming." Ha! I just noticed Caledonia quoted Nemo, too. =)

  28. Like your ode to Dr. Lucy :)

    I've had the same fear. I just finished a first draft of a story & only have a half-assed idea for the second. What works for me ... just keep writing. Even if you end up deleting the part treading water. I find just thinking about it never gets me unstuck. Write what seems to come next, no matter how droll. Then think about how to twist it up and make it more exciting.

    With that said, I have several projects only half written :-O

  29. I don’t feel that way anymore, we grow every day, so it’s inherent to see weakness in our writing. As long as you know you have room to grow, then nothing should make you feel inadequate: because it’s to be expected.

    I struggled with that feeling awhile back. I think it stems from a confidence in proper technique and craft. Once you have absolute confidence in what you are capable of doing, then you’ll never doubt your ability, just the worth of the story you’re developing… but I am sure that’s always a struggle!

  30. Great post, Heather. Your posts are always so refreshingly honest.

    I think once you find the heart of a book/character, it'll motivate you to finish it. The funny thing is our writing should keep improving so our first book is not usually our best one.

    Keep going.

  31. Shannon - It's a good thing I know how to swim! Thanks for swimming in!

    M Pax - I hear you. I have agree. That is what the majority of you guys said. Just keep going.

    Jeff - Well the day I have absolute confidence in anything will be a good day. I'll keep trying though.

    Liz - Thank you. I appreciate that. I promise to keep going.

    Thank you everyone.

  32. I know how you feel. My first one will be pubbed in November. I keep wondering how to keep my others up to the same bar.


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