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I've been wrestling a bit with writer's molasses, which is sort of like writer's block except that it's not really a hard stop: it's more like slogging very slowly forward. I have tons of WIPs - I counted seventeen with at least four paragraphs written last time, and that was quite a while back - but I'm not committed to finishing any of them. It's not that I don't have anything to write or that the words don't come. I'm just not motivated to work on any particular story from beginning to end. So, I end up adding a paragraph to this one here, and then a short scene to that one there, and nothing ever gets done. In the meantime, a new idea pops up and bam, another WIP is born.

I do have a couple of hard deadlines looming, the minor character fic-a-thon and the trope bingo that I signed up for, and I know I'll buckle down and get those done (they're both halfway done; for the trope bingo, I'm only writing one story so that I qualify to sign up for the next one), but I haven't yet done so. I've also listed a fic for April's Camp Nanowrimo, and I'm looking forward to concentrating on that one. It's been percolating in my brain for a while now.

It's been bugging me that I can't seem to concentrate and finish anything I've started. However, in the last week or so, I realized that I don't need to measure my success by how many fics I write or how often I post things. Like I said, I am actually writing, just not in any particular order. (Hm, kind of like how the Doctor lives his life. Ha.) Then, as I thought about this, I came up with an idea to make me feel better, more creative and productive.

You see, one of the things that's keeping me from concentrating on one fic and finishing it is that I have all these ideas in my head and different ones pop to the fore depending on my mood, the time of day, the alignment of Gallifrey with the Medusa Cascade, and whether the number of bags of tea in the cupboard is a happy number or not. I'll be driving to band rehearsal thinking about a scene, and then on the way home, I'll be thinking of a different one from a different story, and then when I get home and sit down, ready to type, a completely different one is on my mind, and I've lost all of the awesome ideas that had blossomed in the car. I've got all these things bubbling in my head, and none of it gets on the page.

But you know what works? Writing them down! Not caring at all about the overall story, or introducing the setting and characters correctly, or even that all the description is there. I created a document that's just non-interconnected scenes that hopefully one day I will cut from the doc and put into the story it's meant to go in but for now is just getting them down on paper. I find that when I write the scene, I spend some time getting down those ideas that randomly occur to me and working them through, and then the scene stops taking up brain space. Since it's been written down and thought about, it no longer rattles around in my skull. So far, I've done this with three scenes, and I feel less pressured to work on them, and I hope that eventually, I'll get to the point where the number of things I'm thinking about is manageable again, and I can start concentrating on finishing a whole story.

And I've definitely enjoyed actually writing something, even it's not complete and readable. So, success! I feel like I'm making progress again.



( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 2nd, 2016 02:29 pm (UTC)
All of that "stuff" in your head... it does sound like the Doctor... or Dumbledore. Too bad we don't have a pensieve to put them all into, right? Writing them down as they come, though, that's a brilliant idea, and you can move them to where they fit at some point.

Whatever works for you... it's not the speed with which you complete a story, but the ideas floating around. When you clear them from your head by writing them down, more can take their place. Eventually you can put them together like the puzzle pieces in a puzzle.

What's a happy number of teabags for you?
Mar. 2nd, 2016 10:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, I wish I had a pensieve! That was one of the most fascinating concepts that good ol' JK came up with! And I loved that Harry couldn't understand how it would be useful; that's definitely something you only appreciate as an adult.

Actually, the "happy number" was a reference to "42", where the Doctor explains the mathematical concept of happy numbers. By that definition, I think 13 is probably my happy number of teabags, if I have both Earl Grey and English breakfast in stock - enough that I don't have to worry about going to buy more within the next week, but not so much that I worry about them going bad.

As a side note, I was just reading Wikipedia's entry on happy numbers, and it says that when you calculate to see if a number is happy, if it isn't, the calculations will eventually condense down to a repeating sequence of numbers. The numbers in that sequence are called "despairing numbers", because they aren't happy. That tickled me.
Mar. 2nd, 2016 11:19 pm (UTC)
Right about grownups... young ones don't have enough memories yet.

Oh, "42!" The answer to life, the universe and everything! Of course.... and the Doctor Who episode.

I've got Earl Grey and Irish Breakfast tea. Love them both, hubby thinks the Earl Grey smells like perfume. They go pretty fast around here.

I'll have to look further into that business about happy numbers, maybe check with Bas_Math_Girl about it. We have a blast talking about math!
Mar. 2nd, 2016 05:44 pm (UTC)
Hee!! that's generally what I do. What is amazing about the trick is, you get it down, and OFFICIALLY get it 'out of the way' in the BEST way (cause trying to put it aside mentally never works) and it can spark, inspire and free up 'thought time' for other fiction. So glad you are back on track, lovie!

Mar. 2nd, 2016 10:18 pm (UTC)
Really, that advice they always give writers, to "just WRITE", is really the key, isn't it? Create and mold your ideas on the paper, and just keep expressing. See, I'm still learning! :)

Edited at 2016-03-02 10:18 pm (UTC)
Mar. 3rd, 2016 01:04 pm (UTC)
LOL!! The great thing is, we are always learning. Tis why it is a practice and not (really) an 'art'. :D

Mar. 2nd, 2016 07:42 pm (UTC)
depending on my mood, the time of day, the alignment of Gallifrey with the Medusa Cascade, and whether the number of bags of tea in the cupboard is a happy number or not


I wish I had your problem! I've been sitting on a few WIPs since the Dark Ages. Literally, it's been at least 3 and in at least one case more than 5 years since I did anything other than open the old documents, tweak one or two words, fail to think of how to proceed, sigh, and close them. I am stubborn and don't want to give up entirely, but it might be a sunk cost fallacy at this point.
Mar. 2nd, 2016 10:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I know how you feel. I had a fic that I wrote 90% of and lost interest in, and then, over 1.5 years, kept remembering and telling myself I should finish it and post it. I finally did, but it certainly was not as fun or satisfying as pretty much all of my other fics had been. It probably was a good thing to complete it, but I'm not convinced.
Mar. 31st, 2016 02:56 pm (UTC)
I used to write a lot in the Stargate fandom many years ago, but for whatever reason I have only very little to show in the Doctor Who and Torchwood world. Even less in English as some is in German only for a contest in a German forum and I never bothered to translate it. It’s always easier to write in English from the beginning than translating. There is also a funny Christmas poem which I did translate but rhyming in English was impossible.

I thought my muse had deserted me completely now that I do those action figure comics which is a different way to write a story I guess. But then the Arrow producers made the mistake of releasing some promotion pictures for an episode that was supposed to air two weeks later. And those pictures inspired me so much that I wrote the scene, how I thought it would happen. I have done that a few more times since. For some reason I can grasp Malcolm Merlyn better than Jack Harkness. But I even found a way to explain how both are the same person ;)

They are so evil that it usually is 2 AM in Germany, on a weekday, and I should be in bed long ago. And just when I want to leave, these pictures come. In the beginning I thought I could wait till the next day, but ended up lying in bed, sleepless, with complete sentences tumbling around my head. So like you, I HAD to write them down, otherwise I never would have found peace that night, and I was also afraid I would forget those perfect descriptions till the morning.
Mar. 31st, 2016 07:14 pm (UTC)
It's actually much like how I got into writing in the first place. Before DW, I was a fan of this or that, but not to the point of thinking about any of it every day. DW just grabbed me and took over my life, from the moment I watched "Rose".

I also had never written a single word of fiction in my life, outside of things written for school. Then I saw "The Girl in the Fireplace" for the first time, and that night, all I could think about was backstory for Reinette that started to resolve into a short story. It took me hours to fall asleep. Then the next night, same thing, and finally around 2 a.m., I sat up, grabbed my iPad, and typed on that terrible screen keyboard until what was in my head was written down. My first fanfic, and I haven't looked back since.
Mar. 31st, 2016 08:46 pm (UTC)
I actually also have a story about Reinette! I really should translate it, it's only short. It was a challenge, we had a picture of Ten lying on a bed, as if someone had taken a photograph of him like that, and write a story about that.

My first story was not a story I thought of myself, rather a retelling of a Stargate episode which had deeply impressed me. I took the original dialogues but put feelings and emotions and what they were thinking while saying these things in between. It was a situation about life and death and they thought they would not make it.

It was never meant to be published, just for myself. I didn't know about fanfiction at the time. All my life I had enjoyed painting and drawing. But I am not one of those that wrote fairytales from age 7. I wrote about vacations and concerts just as a memory and later did also convention reports, the like. But I never had any original ideas. That is the beauty of fanfiction - the characters and the setting are already there. All you have to ask yourself is "What if". Do you also sometimes start to write without having an idea where it all will end?
Mar. 31st, 2016 09:44 pm (UTC)
I think that's called a novelization, when you take an existing episode and adapt it to a story, adding in the things they couldn't show in the show itself. I've thought about doing that, though it was specifically to write an episode as if John Smith (Human Nature/Family of Blood) had written it as a boy's own tale, so in the style of H. G. Wells or Edgar Rice Burroughs.

I've also thought about taking "Black Orchid", which was a not-very-good Fifth Doctor episode that for some reason I really enjoyed, and write it as a real murder mystery, as opposed to the mess it actually was. However, it would be a complete rewrite, including replacing Adric with Turlough and making him be the suspected murderer, instead of the Doctor.

I completely agree that the beauty of fanfiction is that it allows us to take an established world and explore it on our own. I really don't have the imagination to create my own world and cast of characters, but the DW world has such a wide canvas and fascinating inhabitants that I never run out of things to think and write about.

I very rarely write without having at least some idea of where it's going. I'm not that type - I tend to not start writing anything until I have a concrete idea for a plot. (Which is why I very rarely write introspections, since they tend to not have actual plots.) It's why the new idea I had in this journal post was such a revelation to me, that I could just write down scenes to get the idea out of my brain, because it never occurred to me before to write only part of a story.
Apr. 3rd, 2016 04:15 pm (UTC)
Yeah, not fond of reading introspections either, when it is only a character thinking about stuff but nothing ever happens. I find them boring. And I definitely could not write like others do, with those WIPs, and put them out chapter by chapter. I want to have my story finished before I publish it, as you often go back to the beginning to add/change something.

What I meant, sometimes I have an idea, and start writing, and I also know where I want to be in the end, what shall come out of it (someone learning something, someone changing his ways) but in the middle is a huge hole and I have no idea how to come from A to B. Then I let it sit for a few months and suddenly you have this idea and wonder why you didn't see it in the first place.

Or last Christmas, our German forum does an advent calendar with everyone contributing. They said, they don't have enough stories to fill each door. So I literally sat down and did the easist thing there is - writing about the Torchwood team helping filling the advent calendar doors, by using old mission reports and changing them into stories. I wrote it all from Jack's POV, who was told by Ianto about leaked information and tried to find the mole, until he had to realize his whole team was involved. Ianto included. And I came to the place where they tell him about it. So obviously Jack wonders, why telling him in the first place? He might have not found out if it wasn't for Ianto.

So I wrote "Why did they tell him all this? It did not make sense?", basically stalling for time, trying to give my brain a nudge. And it came in time with the next sentence and the obvious solution - so Jack could add some of his own stories as well. But I had not planned this when I set out to write it. So, sometimes they have their own lives, is all I'm saying!

I think real authors do it like you say also, writing down snippets, having a whole box full of bits and pieces, and use them whenever necessary.
Apr. 4th, 2016 04:51 am (UTC)
And I definitely could not write like others do, with those WIPs, and put them out chapter by chapter.

I think you're the only person I've met who feels the same way about this that I do! It amazes me that anyone can start to post parts of a story that isn't finished. Like you said, I'm constantly going back to previous chapters and adjusting things to make sure that everything fits together. I feel like posting part of story when the rest isn't written is like trying to sell a half-finished painting, or performing the first thirteen measures of a song.

I see what you mean about starting to write when you're not sure exactly how the beginning and the end are going to be connected - I definitely do that. The one that comes to mind is my DW/Harry Potter crossover, Mistaken Identity, which was my first multi-chapter fic. I knew that at some point the Doctor would get stuck in the middle of a magic battle, but I had no idea how he would be able to contribute to it (or even survive it), much less bring it to an end without any major casualties (which is what the Doctor would want to do), but I started writing anyway. And when I got to that chapter, the solution just popped into my head and it worked out rather well. (I won't spoil it here unless you want me to.)

That Torchwood story sounds wonderful, actually! I love the idea that they were making an Advent calendar of stories, and that the final part of the story was bringing Jack in to supply his own. That's just gorgeous!
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )