An Aspiring Writer's Blog Site

It SUCKS being Stuck

My writing has come to a screeching halt. Boy, has it given me the blues.

Its funny, I have quite a few ideas about possible stories, the problem is they are all novel length. I have committed myself to writing short stories at the moment. My strategy is that by writing short stories I can get feedback quickly and better hone my craft. I was on track for about two months. I have written five short stories in that time. And that’s nothing to sneeze at. But now, I’ve run out of ideas. And it SUCKS.

I had brought up my concern for writing short stories shortly after I decided to stop working on the Gideon Plan and start working on smaller works. Short stories do not come to me easily. I was on a roll for a little while, converting Celtic myths into stories set in the Irish slums of 19th century New York. I wrote some good ones. But that has dried up now and I am fumbling about trying to come up with something else. Unfortunately, the ideas I have lead to no where or, as I mentioned, are too long in their narrative.

In the mean time, I continue to read a lot. I have been analyzing other writer’s craft and critiquing other’s stories. I have started the rewriting process for my five short stories and am researching magazines for them to go to. Then there’s my ongoing search of finding a topic that inspires me. So, I’m not completely stagnant. Recently, I’ve picked up doing some writing exercises, which I hate. I like to write with purpose, and the exercises either seem trivial or make me think I could better use my time doing something else. However, I’m hoping that the exercises shake something loose. I just want to write another frikin’ story! That’s not much to ask for is it?

So, how do you guys get out of these slumps where nothing is coming to you or you keep reaching dead ends? Boy it sucks (did I mention that?).

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15 responses

  1. Like you, I have a lot of ideas for novel length stories. Though, with my current work, I can only seem to devote about an hour or two each day and it starts to annoy me. I think it’s because I thought it was done (As in: Ready to publish soon) but it really needs a few more months of fine tuning. :O

    It’s always a great idea to distance yourself from a work if you are reaching a brick wall with ideas. Hopefully the exercises will help you. Or, maybe it might be time for you to pursue a novel length project, after all, if you are feeling really inspired with a particlar story idea.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    • Thanks, Sara. It was nice to see all my writing buddies out there come in to the rescue with my post. Distancing might be a good idea. Just write something else, no matter how mindless it may be, might just be a good idea. I just hate feeling like I’m wasting my time.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      • Aw I know the feeling. In the past, I’ve written half a novel and then had to slash most of it. But the good thing with writing is that, even if you don’t use some or even all of what you wrote, its always good to view it as an exercise/practice. So, the next thing you write will probably be more useful. But I know the feeling where you’re like, “Ugh. I’m just spinning my wheels!”

        October 18, 2012 at 9:55 am

  2. Just my two cents, but while getting feedback on your craft is a good thing, I think you’re addicted to it. 😛 You’ve written five shorts, gotten good feedback on them. It’s time to grab one of those novel length ideas and go with it. You want short? write a shorter novel. Maybe in the 50-80k range, instead of the 400-500k you were doing. You learn as you go, don’t let lack of short story ideas to hold you back. Runners run, writers write. Craft will come. Now excuse me while I go do another 15 chapters of edits….

    October 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    • Thanks, Drew. Maybe you’re right, maybe you’re right . . . Back to novel writing. Geez. I was just there a little while ago. I was thinking about doing short stories for a year before I went back to novel writing. Got to write, though. Want to write. Have to write. But, good God, yes, NO 400-500K stories this time

      October 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm

  3. Dan, it sounds like you are at war with yourself. You have mixed feelings about your writing. I know discipline seems like a great idea, but that only works if you are naturally given to approaching things in a highly-structured way. Are you like that in other areas of your life? Why don’t you cut yourself some slack and follow your inclinations? Allow yourself a month or two to just do whatever the hell you feel like doing and see what happens. You might surprise yourself. Perhaps you are ready to move on and haven’t consciously twigged on yet. The key is to pay attention to what you are actually willing to do. Go with the urge, don’t stand in your own way, but add just enough “supervision” to keep things from getting too disorganized.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    • Or what this guy says. Good advice Thomas. 🙂

      October 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    • Wow, you may have hit the nail on the head. I do approach things from a structured point of view, but I may be forcing myself to do something I don’t really want to do. I’ve always said I write because I love it. I certainly can’t forget that.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm

  4. catherinelumb

    These guys are right Dan – you always remind me to ENJOY writing, but it seems you are struggling with that right now. You’ve accomplished loads in the last couple of months, maybe it’s time to give yourself a break and explore some other creative outlets to refresh your mind?
    Alternatively, if you really want to continue to write might I suggest character profiles? Just make someone up and write about them – what they look like, what they do, if they like it, why they don’t, what habits they have…then make a challenge of it by setting yourself the task of SHOWING all that information rather than telling readers about it. This is an activity that was suggested to me a while ago – but I haven’t had chance to try it out! So, if you do try it – let me know how it goes so I can keep it on my to do list!
    Take care doll -x

    October 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    • That’s a really good idea, Cat. I may have to try that. Yeah. I guess I may be being too hard on myself for not accomplishing all my goals and I may be losing sight of what I tell everyone else: write because you love to write. I guess I have accomplished quite a bit. Five short stories in two months isn’t bad. I’ve been wanting to do two a month for a year and I may be putting myself into a tizzy for nothing.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      • I likke structure too, part of the reason I give my self a word count to adhere too. But, I also don’t beat myself up if I don’t get there. Same goes for what you write. Currently, its not your living, so you’re free to treat it as such. And its pointless if you aren’t enjoying it. I used to tell myself that all the time. “If I get to the point where I don’t love it anymore, I’ll stop doing it”, or something to that effect. I think writers, and probably other creative people too, get into the zone that they HAVE to PRODUCE SOMETHING. But maybe that’s not important. If you aren’t writing for a living, currently, you can step away from it for awhile, or, if you don’t want to commit to a novel, take one of your ideas, and just write a chapter. Write two chapters. I’ve done that before. Even if I don’t get to the whole project right away, I’ll have written something, and had a little fun. You might, after having done that, realize you’re suddenly in the story. You want to know what happens next. So you might follow it a bit further. Maybe not, who knows? But at least you A: wrote, and B: had some fun, which is pretty important. Sorry for rambling on your blog. I’ll go back to my own corner now. 😛

        October 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm

      • catherinelumb

        Not for nothing…you’re learning about yourself and your writing. Sometimes we all have to have the occasional ‘tizzy’ (love that word!) to put things into perspective.
        Just remind yourself of what you’ve achieved and go back to the core of your writing and why enjoy it.
        Keep us updated on how you’re doing and what recommendations you can highlight when the rest of us have a frustrating day being stuck!
        x

        October 18, 2012 at 6:42 am

  5. Some really great responses here. A step back is in order so you can come back with fresh eyes.I had to type out scenes to about 6 wip’s just to get them out of my head and I feel all the better for having done it.Too many projects at once spins us all around. Doing rewrites also brings my focus back as does exercise and nature. Bring the fun and the why back into what drives you to write.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:36 am

    • Thanks for swinging by, Amber. Seems like the common consensus is to step back, get away from what you are doing, and just write for the fun of it. I appreciate your thoughts!

      October 18, 2012 at 9:13 am

  6. Dan, I have tagged you in a game of blog tag. Joining in is optional, of course, but it might do you some good to answer the questions about your novel in progress. Get the juices flowing, so to speak, and stoke the creative fires. Visit my blog to see the set up. In or out, I hope you get your writing back on track soon.

    October 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm

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