Friday, May 21, 2010

When writing is hard, what does it mean?

Tip of the day: I'm giving away four amazing YA ARCs on my personal blog - go HERE for all the details.

I like writing when it's fun. You know - when I'm excited about the story, about the characters, when the words flow like water, and I can't wait to get back to the page.

But what about when it's not fun? When you've written and rewritten and started over and done this and done that, and you're just tired of the stupid story? How do you keep going?

I'm not talking about the muddled middle in a story, where you just have to grit your teeth while you're writing, and keep going. I'm talking about the story you've been working on off and on for months or years and you're just SO DAMN SICK OF IT!

I tweeted last week that I wondered if Sheryl Crow was singing about writing when she wrote the lyrics, "If it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad."

I love being an author. I really do. But some days, some stories, some agonizing sentences, it almost makes me cry out in pain.

Part of me wonders - if an author is struggling that much with the story, is there something wrong? Should it be *that* hard? Does it make any difference in the end whether a story was easy to write or terribly, terribly difficult to write? When I look at all of the books I've written, I feel like most of the time, the ones that flowed easily and didn't cause me huge amounts of agony are the ones that have been published.

What do you think? And do you think it's worth it to keep going, that an author should keep trying to make it work, no matter what? Or is there a point where you need to say, enough, and put the thing away for good?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career


Kate Fall said...

I don't know. Part of me says, as long as the story works for readers, you should keep going with it. Another part of me says, even if this is the greatest story in the world and simultaneously makes you a million dollars, how much suffering is it worth to you?

Anonymous said...

I think if the work brings you such agony, it's bound to show up in the writing itself. Unless that's the theme you want your readers to feel, too, it may be best to put it away and start on a new project. Though, never say never. Months or yrs later could give you a new outlook on the piece and that missing link to put it together as a solid, beloved book.

Anonymous said...

I've put two books away, one recently, after I'd written 11K words. It just WASN'T WORKING, and I had a new idea that WAS.

Before that, I spent 6 months working on an idea, and I felt like I was beating my head up against brick wall. It got to the point where I just hated writing. I finally called my agent and talked to her (because I was under contract for a second book to Scholastic) and I wrote a proposal for another idea that had been percolating that very day. I had a clearer idea of where that book was going after one morning (it's Want to Go Private?) than I did the other book I'd been struggling with for 6 months. My agent talked to my editor and we agreed I could switch projects. I'm so glad and I think my editor is too!

Kristina Springer said...

Oh, I hear ya! Totally been there. I push through but it takes me longer than when I'm really excited. And sometimes you just need distance. When I step away from a book for awhile it's always a surprise to me when I re-read-- like wow, that's good! Did I really write that? Of course, maybe my memory is just crap. Haha.