Tuesday, June 2, 2015

IWSG DAY: Unfinished Business

Today is IWSG Day because it's the first Wednesday in June.  IWSG stands for Insecure Writers Support Group and was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh.  You can follow other IWSG members here or on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG. We also have a Facebook page

The purpose of IWSG is to share and encourage. So today I'm wondering ... have you ever started something that you never finished? Whether it was a novel, a knitting project or a jigsaw puzzle, I've read that the number one reason we quit a project is because our motivation fizzles. I must be queen of the fizzlers because I have a lot of unfinished projects--from jewelry projects to journaling to braided rag rugs to novels!

When it comes to my writing, I often give up when I hit a rough spot. What I really need to do is focus and plough through the brick wall I've created. I've noticed that usually the reason I can't go forth is because I've taken a wrong turn, put my characters in a predicament that isn't conducive to my plot or the story, creating an impossible action/reaction--or next scene.

When I wrote The Last Daughter I never had such a problem. You know why? Because I brainstormed and outlined; I had a plan. First I identified all my characters and wrote character sketches for each one. I knew my theme, what the word count needed to be and had a deadline. I followed the "breadcrumbs" I created to the end of the story and successfully completed it.

I wish I could train myself to immediately go into outline mode with each new project, but I don't. I tell myself that each book has its on personality and therefore, its on birthing process. That's true in a way but it only takes me so far. If I know beyond a doubt that I write better and to completion by outlining, why don't I just do it?

How about you? How many notes do you make about a project before or during the writing process? How extensive are they? Do you have any unfinished projects? Any plans to finish them? Share.


Charles Gramlich said...

I just can't seem to bring myself to outline in any complete way.

Charity Bradford said...

Ha! I think I'm the opposite. After planning the second novel in my series I had no desire to write it. I knew everything that would happen, so why bother? It took a long time, but I did make myself sit down and write it. It was hard! For book three I'm back to my loose plotting.

I fill notebooks with thoughts about why my characters might do something. It's more my attempt at understanding their motivations than what they will be doing in the story. Once I understand, I sit at the computer and see where the characters take me. However, I do know the end of the book before I start. I find this gives me a direction and goal while still leaving me lots to discover along the way. It's probably not the most efficient way to write, but it works for me.

Stephsco said...

I also hate outlining, but the character grids I started doing last year are essential. I can map out major character's journeys which give me a road map for where the story needs to go. If the character needs to learn lesson A then I write the plot to reflect their journey, and create events that thwart that journey. A plot outline is never going to be my thing.

As for getting stuck, that's been me off and on for months. What helps for me is going back to those character grids, or re-shaping them. Also freewriting. Open a new blank document or handwrite in notebook, anything outside of your manuscript, and write in your character's voice. I've gotten SO much from this. Thoughts and feelings that turned into scenes and chapters.

I am so with you on this! Just yesterday I vented to my husband about a book thing that's stressing me out (I'm in the midst of signing my first contract). He responded, lovingly, Enjoy the journey, dummy. LOL

Each step is a milestone. It's SO hard to remember this when we are focused intently on that end goal. So I guess your Now What is Right Now. Ooh I might have to use that in something :)

Here's my IWSG post

M Pax said...

I'm less and less of a pantser as time goes on. I recently read Take Off Your Pants, which was awesome about outlining. Sometimes I write rambling emails to a friend when stuck. I can usually unsnarl myself that way.

Anonymous said...

I have a few projects that are sitting, waiting, for me to go back to them. The novel I'm currently working on, I found, took some surprising turns outside of the outline I'd set up -- but they all still fit and feed into it. However, it took me a number of years, sitting with the story on the shelf, sometimes revisiting it, before I came up with the proper outline. I really feel each project (just like people) is different, it needs to be handled in its own manner, with care an attention to what works before for IT.

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

Charles - all those stories I didn't outline are a complete mess! I don't always outline extensively. Sometimes just a line or two per chapter. I envy pantsers!

Charity - If it works for you, that's all that counts! :)

Stephsco - thanks. I've written in my character's voice. Love doing that.

M Pax - Thanks for sharing. I'll have to check out that book.

eclecticali - I agree. Each project is different and dictates how it will be written. That's what makes writing fun!

Carole Morden said...

I don't outline. I think it would be easier to get a project finished if I did but it seems to stuffy for me. Like I am putting my characters in uncomfortable church clothes and they can't wait to get home and put on jammies and just lounge around.

Mary Aalgaard said...

I have a few unfinished projects. I wouldn't say they're completely abandoned, though. It takes effort to push through that mid-section, when the energy fades, but I have gotten to the end of some really great projects. Remembering that feeling, tugs me back to the old projects, or motivates me to start a new one.
Play off the Page

Anonymous said...

Personally I love planning and plotting, I always feel like it's not enough when I do the actual writing. It's always good to have some kind of 'breadcrumbs' when I write though.

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

Carole - my planning makes it a lot easier. Have you finished your second book yet?

noonebutabloghead - thanks for popping over. You're a guy after my own heart if you love planning and plotting! :)

Tess Julia said...

Honestly, having a plan makes so much sense! Which is probably why I don't do it.

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

Hi Mary, I understand. Remembering that I can actually complete a project gives me hope! :)

Tess- When we know something will actually help us succeed, why do we avoid it? Oh, I know... we love a good challenge! LOL