bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann January 4, 2018 - 5:21pm

I've done probably some of my best writing ever lately, but strangely I'm feeling worse and not better about it all. Really demoralized with my giant, hundreds of pages, several-years-of-effort long writing project. You reach another plateau in skill, you love the new piece of the story you've just finished up, but then all of that older work you thought you were done with also ends up back on your desk...

What do you guys do to stay energized or keep from getting pessimistic when it comes to writing? How do you keep your inner saboteur at bay? Mine's pretty loud right now with its complaints that this is all going nowhere.

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman January 4, 2018 - 10:21pm

When something has to change in earlier pages, I'll make a note in the new pages, set off in brackets, and then keep moving forward. I think that helps me feel the sense of progress and that the goal line isn't constantly moving backwards. That pile of pages needing revision isn't something I relish.

More generally, I try to keep working. I know that I'll come out of it eventually, and if I have a pile of pages when I come out of it, I'll thank myself. 

Also, I try to get up and move around more. Exercise or walk more. It just helps me think, not just when I'm moving, but later on when I sit down to write. I'm more patient with myself if I use up some of that energy.

chris_diplacito's picture
chris_diplacito from Fife, Scotland is reading Twilight by William Gay January 5, 2018 - 4:56am

Hey, I think this is definitely something everyone can relate to! I know I often feel way too demoralized to either begin anything new, or go back into existing work and edit.

If I need to reenergize, and reignite the fire, I stop writing and I read.

Predominantly short stories at this stage, or perhaps a few chapters from a favourite book, as I’m not reading to finish anything in particular, but to be inspired by varied styles, themes, dialogue etc.
I consume as many short stories as I can from as many different sources -  literary journals, anthologies, collections, online etc.

Some will be good and some will be bad.
But with the good ones I think ‘Damn, I want to strive to be able to do that.’
And with the bad ones I think ‘Damn, I can do better than that.’
Both are equally motivating.

I also find reading essays on the craft of writing helps to get me going again.
Not specially to learn anything new, but more just to listen to writers who are passionate about their work.

The craft essays by Chuck Palahniuk on here are very inspiring.
As is books such as Stephen King’s ‘On Writing.’

There are also a few really inspiring essays from the greats that can be found online…
‘A Storyteller’s Shoptalk’ by Raymond Carver is a good one.  Also ‘Writing Short Stories’ by Flannery O’Connor.

Interviews with other writers are also good.
It is often comforting to hear that a successful writer is likely to go through the same trials and tribulations as us mere mortals.

The art of fiction series in the Paris Review is often inspiring.
And I also enjoy the fiction podcast on the New Yorker website. The way the guest writer and editor dissect the chosen story really appeals to my nerdy side, and makes me want to dive back into my older works and cut them up and rework them.

Watching movies, with one eye studying the ways in which the story is working/not working sometimes motivates me to take another look at my own work too.

As I say, I’m never looking to learn anything new from reading any of these things (although I often do.) I really just want to immerse myself in the world of writing talk.
And usually I come away feeling really optimistic about the art of writing and determined that I can succeed, in one way or another. 

Keep at it! And all the best.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal January 8, 2018 - 7:26pm

I like to read something that I've done that I really like, and relish a little in how good it is.

I'm not clear on why the older work is back on your desk though?

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel January 8, 2018 - 11:44pm

Just keep writing. Read. Write shit. Just keep going. This too shall pass.