Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When Your Writing Sucks

When your writing sucks, you'll know it. You get this rock-like feeling in the pit of your stomach. You get thoughts that border on suicidal, even if it's just emotional suicide, and you pretty much want to yell at everyone who crosses your path. Right? That's how I get. I'm trying to work on a novel I've been hammering out for over two years, and although it's technically finished, it just sucks. At least I think it does. I've got that rock-feeling and all the little thoughts in my head keep screaming, "Spend your valuable time on something better!!!"

I might listen. I might not. I have some plans for this novel that I'd like to see come to fruition, but I have other ideas that seem more exciting.

I think when our excitement on a work dies away, it's time to shelve the dang thing.

What do you do? Do you have to be completely passionate about your work, or is it more like a job to you and you just fight to get it done and out there, even if the passion dies away? (I'm not talking about the "first-draft lust" type of passion - just that deep love for a work that drives you forward).

Maybe I'm only being distracted by shininess elsewhere. That's entirely possible. Ugh.


  1. For me, once I write "the end" on the first draft the clock is ticking. I only have a small window (6 months or so) to get my revisions done and pronounce it "good enough" before I start to lose interest. This is happening to me now with a story I really want/wanted to make work, but my first draft was so bad it required a complete rewrite. But it's been over a year now, and I've lost my enthusiasm for it. I'm considering setting it aside for something newer.

    It's actually hard to let go of, because people have read the draft, and like it, and want to see it to completion. And I'll admit, I'd like to see it finished too. But at the same time - is banging on that the best use of my time/energy as far as getting stuff out there? Probably not.

    I'll probably trunk mine for now, and maybe come back to it later. I just feel like I need to move on...

  2. Yeah, Jamie, that's good advice to get it all done in 6 months, but I generally work so slowly. Cinders, however, has taught me that I am capable of moving more quickly.

    People LOVE Monarch, but I don't seem to love the dang thing anymore. I've always had issues with loving this book, and to me, that says I probably shouldn't put it out there as my first traditionally published book. Uck.

    I'm like you. I do feel like I need to move on.

  3. It's a relationship. Dating, courting, marriage, etc. You're in that "itch" phase. The other novels suddenly look so much more appealing now and you wonder what it would be like to hold their hand instead, cuddle with them on the couch, make love/fight, anything outside of where you're at now with that particular story. He's got bits of food on his shirt, he doesn't make up the bed, he snores...

    But, he's yours. Trained or not. If you stick with it, I honestly believe you'll pull through. It's frustrating, of course, but for the best---that you're going through this, I mean. When you emerge on the other side, you see that you love him for what he really is, problems and all. If you never reached this stage, you'd never see those faults, those areas that need a little extra TLC. He'll thank you for sticking around.

    That's how I see it anyway...

  4. Oh, Breanne, you're not making this easy for me. I feel like the opportunity and plans I had/have for this book are almost too good to pass up. You know what I'm talking about, but at the same time I look back on my rocky relationship with this book and it's entirely experimental background, and I just don't know if it has enough to carry it through. I do feel like I can make it work if I really want to. But do I really want to? That's the tough question.

    You're making me think twice about it. Sigh...

  5. Sometimes, we have to put the project away and work on other things. I did this with one project that I couldn't seem to, in the words of Tim Gunn, 'make it work'. Then, one day, a year or so later, an idea about this work popped into my mind. I revamped the project - deleting here, there, and everywhere. In the end, I love the 'new and improved' version better than original version that just didn't seem to work for me.

    Have you ever tried taking the best, the things you love the most about the project, and using those ideas as the stepping stones for a completely different project? Maybe there's just one part of the project that isn't working. : )


  6. Interesting post!

    First off, Breanne just rules on so many levels I think I have a writer's crush going.

    I have a similar, but different take. When the suckage starts flowing, I like to EMBRACE THE SUCK. I stand up and own that particular suckage.


    Suckage can be a group effort. Never underestimate the power of SUCK in a group setting!

    Sometimes, I will thoroughly mesmerize my beta readers, that the feedback they are giving me is not effective.

    On one hand, I have succeeded as a writer by entertaining my readers.

    On the other hand? Not helpful to improvement. So, when the going got tough, the tough got out his Visa. I hired a professional editor to look at the first five pages on my manuscript.

    Now, I haven't sold that novel, but the feedback I received back with unlike anything I ever heard. It was knife-like in precision.

    The editor I hired was Toni Andrews, who writes the Merci Hollings urban fantasy books and is also successful under her pen name. Not only does she know how to edit, but she can also give you great advice on the publishing markets from a professional standpoint.

    You can find Toni at http://www.toniandrews.com/BookRx.htm

    If you are pinching pennies, you can get the same effect by bribing a new beta reader to go over your manuscript with specific instructions to hold nothing back. An editor, however, has an outside view that will be hard to replicate. For example, if you tossed me your MS in question I would read it and just go:

    gush gush gush gush gush when can I read the next gush gush gush gush gush

    Sometimes embracing the suck simply means a new pair of opinionated eyes.

  7. I have one of those, it's just spinning around on my hard drive, going in circles. It doesn't have enough conflict to really resonate with readers. The main character isn't a real person. She is a cardboard cutout, all neat and pretty, but if you look behind her, she's got nothing.

    I started a rewrite, but quickly saw something shiny over there, and wrote another one. It was a good decision on my part, the new one is 5 times better, if only because you learn with every book.

    I'm not worried about the old one getting dizzy on my hard drive. After I get the latest published, I can use that one for my next one, after a good rewrite.

    I think that sometimes putting some distance between you and your work allows you to see it with fresh eyes. Fresh eyes allow you to see what's good, and build on that, then throw out the parts that suck.

    I know there's parts of my old one that suck, and I'm already sharpening my blade to take care of that, when the time is right.

  8. Right now, I have a dystopian YA out to two agents, I've just finished another and I'm getting ready for my beta readers. Both are strong. I'm hopeful that one or the other could be 'the one'.

    Aaaaand then there's the series (also YA, but high fantasy) that I started three years ago. Those books have been through numerous rewrites, massive overhauls, and slash and burn surgeries. They're still nowhere near worthy of sending out to prospective agents, and only one beta reader has even cracked the cover of the first in the series. But I keep writing on them. And I keep writing on them.

    For months they sit in out of the way places while I write on other projects... and then I randomly pick the high fantasy series up and start nitpicking again. I don't think I'll ever give up on them. And maybe some day they'll be published. Maybe not. The suckage continues, but every time I revisit that first series, I learn a little something about it, about myself as a writer, about life. I think whether or not you call it quits on a project, for good, is something you feel inside. I don't think it's about that project ever being commercially successful, but about whether or not you get something out of your relationship with it.


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