Thursday, April 4, 2013

A to Z Challenge: Determination



On A-day, I asked the veterans what advice they wanted to share with the new kids.

About 90% of them had versions of the same message:

DON'T GIVE UP!

There's a very good reason why this is so big in the veterans' eyes.

They know. They've been beyond the point where the new idea's shininess wears off. They kept going. They've been at edges of mile-wide plot holes. They kept going. They've had to beg, plead and bribe uncooperative characters to play along. They kept going. Their muses have vanished. For days. They kept going.

They kept going.

Oh it all sounds glorious to you now, doesn't it? So clean and surgical. But if you were a fly on the wall of a writer's office, you'll see it's not pretty.

Some writers get buzzed on caffeine to deal with the stress. Some become nervous wrecks.

Some (I'm in this group) do this...



Sometimes I do it while screaming like a banshee.

Yeah. Not pretty at all.

But we keep going. At some point, we stop messing around and get back to writing. We go looking for the story's shine again. We go filling up plot holes. We find some middle way with out characters and they show us where the story should be heading. And we let the muse back in to continue.

Sad. Isn't it?

Yet, there's no other way for a writer to live. Without writing -- without finishing what we're writing -- we (at least I) feel incomplete.

So we keep going. Because shit. What else are we going to do?

What do you do when bumping into a problem while writing?
New kids. Do you think what I described is normal? Congrats! You might just make it.

98 comments:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

And when Caffeine fails, a good glass of wine helps.

Sarah said...

LOL. Lots and lots and lots of caffeine.

Did I mention it took me 7 years from the time I decided to start this crazy journey until the day I found my first contract offer in my inbox? (I rejected it, but got another three months later)...

That's SEVEN years.

Determination doesn't begin to cover it. ;)

Marjorie Romeyn-Sanabria said...

Determination is important, but belief in yourself and loving yourself enough to keep going when things get hard is also incredibly necessary. I wrote my D post about discouragement, too, interestingly enough.

Susan Roebuck said...

Definitely normal! At least from my point of view and determination is something we have to have in bucketfuls :-)

Miranda Hardy said...

If you never give up, you never fail. That's my saying!

Cathrina Constantine said...

You hit the nail on the head, Determination!!! If a writer hasn't banged their heads on their keyboards at least once a day, then they're they lucky ones! Good post

Bish Denham said...

When I run into a problem I do one of two things: I pace and talk it out to myself until a solution *magically* presents itself, or I back off and give myself a break and let the problem roil around in my subconscious for a few days...even a few weeks.

Beth said...

Eat chocolate.

Dani said...

Oh gosh I want to do this daily... but to other people. ;)
Dani @ Entertaining Interests
#warriorminion

Ciara said...

I love the illustration. LOL Yep, I feel like that often. :)

Nick Wilford said...

Resilience is key. I know I often have a hard time getting my characters to talk to me...

shelly said...

When stuck pull out the colorful Post-It Notes and spiral notebooks.

Hugs and chocolate,
Shelly

Mark Means said...

Exactly right...we have to keep on, keepin' on!

M.J. Fifield said...

*Headdesk* about covers it.

Determination is key. Writing is a grueling business/experience.

Rena said...

Yeah, when I get stuck, I go do a work out. Nothing like a shot of naturally produced endorphins to get the creativity back on track.

J. A. Bennett said...

Love this post! When all the public sees is the finished product, it's easy to think that writing isn't that hard, but it is, it really, really is.

Lisa Wilton said...

Wine helps me.. but there is a fine line between the amount that helps and the amount that hinders...

sassyspeaks said...

When I get stuck I join a blog such as this, or take a class. Anything to write Something. It's an addiction and it doesn't go away

michelle said...

It IS a gruelling process. But I really, really enjoy writing!

Robin Moran said...

Breaks are good. I did that for a WiP I started a few years ago and just came to a standstill. Sometimes you need to take a break, look at notes or anything you know about the story and take a while to figure out where you want to go. Come back to it when you have had time to think. That usually works for me. I took my break, started it again for NaNo 2011 and I knew where I was going. I'm now editing it. A breather is good. :)

M. J. Joachim said...

Just keep typing. Sometimes that's all you can do.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Determination is a must, and having a strong head doesn't hurt. Great post Misha!

Julie

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Just keep pushing forward. Preferably without banging head on desk, because that looks like it really hurts.

Andrew Leon said...

What's a plot hole...?
:P

Carol Kilgore said...

Best advice I ever received: If you can stop writing, stop. Move on.

I couldn't stop.

Annalisa Crawford said...

That video is an accurate depiction of me yesterday! Today I mostly have a dark round bruise on my head, but several hundred words!

Romance Reader said...

Ouch, that looks like it hurt!

Determination, preservation and persistence is the name of the game, Misha. Oh, and chocolates!

All the best!

Nas

M Pax said...

Lately I'm doing that wondering where the inspiration for the end of my story is. Where? Where?

In the meantime, I'm world building for the new novel and made a dent in starting Backworlds #4.

Don't hit your head too hard. You need that.

Unknown said...

Plus, after a while, writing becomes an integral part of your day.

Writing is such a part of my daily life now that when I don't get to write for a few days in a row I get cranky and sad!

Tui Snider
visiting from the #AtoZchallenge
Twitter: @mentalmosaic
Blog: http://www.mentalmosaic.com/blog

Tyrean Martinson said...

Love the comments here, as well as your advice! Determination is the only way to make it. If that means waking up before every else, that's what has to happen. If it means standing up and stretching for five minutes and then pounding at the keyboard and feeling like it's all junk, then so be it. Eventually the story gets pounded into shape - after a few headdesk moments.

Christine Rains said...

When I run into a problem, I step back and do something else. I play with my kid, go for a walk, or clean. I think my husband secretly loves it when I have a block! A short break and then I get right back to it. Push past the problem even if it is not to your liking. You can always fix it when you rewrite.

myriteofpassage said...

I'm a Capricorn; we can't help being resilient even if we try. My D for A - Z is on Disassociation; hope to see you around sometime during April. -Belinda.

Crystal Collier said...

Awesome. So those screaming fights with my computer are 100% normal? Feeling much better about myself now. :)

Joyce Lansky said...

I've currently hit a wall with my WIP. I'm seriously considering writing the story that comes before my opening scene rather than heading to the finish line.

http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

Krista McLaughlin said...

Simple and best advice. I have a tendency to hit my head on the desk, but a break and some coffee or jellybeans will get me doing again. Our path is a hard one to take and we can't be quitters. :)

Heather M. Gardner said...

When you find yourself cleaning the microwave instead of writing...put down the sponge and go write something!

Heather

Stelios Perdios said...

I'd rather bang my head now out of frustration over a project rather than bang my head later out of regret for what could have been. It did, however, take me years to figure that out.

sydneyaaliyah.com said...

Now I have a headache. Thanks Misha. LOL.

Shan Jeniah Burton said...

This is me, too - except I play with my kids, go for walks, take hot showers...lots of tangles break free for me in the shower.

I live with two children who have never been indoctrinated into the schoolish way of thinking. Seeing how they deal with frustration while reaching for a goal has inspired me.

They try until they've had enough challenge or stress, and then they do something else. When they come back, it's with new ideas, and a willingness to accept a challenge again.

They don't see it as determination or giving up. They see it as living.

I've come to imagine it as like weaving. Sometimes I need to leave a tangle be, and decide if it's worth keeping, or needs to be pulled out. I've noticed that letting the issue resolve itself tends to lead to many related answers, so it's worth it.

I also keep several projects going at once, so there is always something else to play with if one project is stumbling.

For me, passion and connection are key. I love challenging myself, but I need joy, need to be a person my family wants to live with. That's a lot easier if I don't drive myself around the bend trying to force what's not yet ready to be born...and when I wait, I become part of the story, and the writing breathes with its own life...

Shannon Lawrence said...

Precisely, what else are we going to do? Great post. Also, thank you for your comment on my C post (Carnac Stones). You made my day. Congratulations (greatly delayed, I'm sure)!!

Shannon at The Warrior Muse

Medeia Sharif said...

That looks painful.

I don't believe in giving up. If a manuscript doesn't work out I move on to the next one.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Yes writing does drive you crazy sometimes. But to keep going leads to rewards. Or a hospital stay for that poor head and neck.

Mama J said...

This is something I have to remind myself every time I get a rejection - don't give up.

Commonweeder said...

Determination - and its cousin perseverance - are essential in every aspect of life.

Scribbles From Jenn said...

I don't bang my head, but I do drink lots of coffee and keep pushing forward. I've been doing that for the past %$#? years and I'm determined to continue until I get to the end.

Jenn @Scribbles From Jenn

Al Diaz said...

I don't bang my head against the cave walls but I do the Humphrey Bear panic dance like....all the time.

Pat Garcia said...

Hi,

This is so true. We keep going. I am visiting other websites tonight and yours was one of the ones that I needed to visit. It is very encouraging. Thank you because I needed to read this today.

Congratulations also on your first book. May it surpass your own expectations in sales.
Ciao,
Pat

Deniz Bevan said...

Ack! That headdesk is scary! I wish I wasn't so frustrated with my own editing half the time...

Mina Lobo said...

"So we keep going. Because shit. What else are we going to do?"

ROTFL. And hell yeah, what else IS there to do???
Some Dark Romantic

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha sadly for me, I don't like wine. The only exception is good champagne, and I only drink that when happy.

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah same with me. Except I'm going for 12th year now and only got my first contract last month. ;-)

Misha Gericke said...

I agree. I don't think the one will succeed in keeping you going without the other.

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha yeah... or maybe bath-fulls.

Misha Gericke said...

So true!

Misha Gericke said...

Hahahaha yeah definitely. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

I'm the same. If a problem is really difficult, I'll leave it alone for a while. Because I've found that if you stare at the problem too closely, it looks much worse than it is.

Misha Gericke said...

And Shah, your children have a wonderful gift, being able to live like that.

I also have multiple projects, although I don't like hopping between them because of problems, because then I'm creating a habit of avoidance. The only exception to this is when I'm waiting to find out what happens next in a story.

Misha Gericke said...

Lol great solution. Although, I find that using it too often means I need to *shudder* exercise.

Misha Gericke said...

Lmao I've had that impulse before as well...

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha good to know I'm not the only one.

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah! Same here. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

You almost make it sound fun to be stuck. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

Amen! :-P

Misha Gericke said...

Definitely. No one knows how grueling except for people who're actually in the same boat.

Misha Gericke said...

I've heard this works, but for some reason it just never motivates me to get fit. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah I know what you mean. People also tend to assume that writers write like the finished product from the start.

Misha Gericke said...

Hahahaha definitely. I figure that the hindering amount tends to be when you start to see double. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah the same thing. And when I literally have nothing to write, that's when I do something else.

Misha Gericke said...

Same here. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

I know what you mean. The only time I take a break from a WiP is when it churns to a stop and I just don't have words.

Otherwise, I try to resolve a problem as soon as I can.

Misha Gericke said...

So true.

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah. If my head was any weaker, it'd be cracked by now. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha actually, it's sort of an oddly gratifying feeling. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

You know those things when you want to cry because a story doesn't make sense?

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha that is excellent advice. I wouldn't be able to stop either.

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha glad to hear the headdesking shook loose some words. ;-)

Misha Gericke said...

Chocolate cures anything. :-P

Misha Gericke said...

It'll come. Best of luck with your other projects!

Misha Gericke said...

I'm the same. I get seriously cranky when not writing.

Misha Gericke said...

Brilliant way of saying it. We do what we have to do, because it's the only way to get anything done.

Misha Gericke said...

Sometimes, standing back when you have a block is the best idea, I agree.

Misha Gericke said...

I'll definitely be by soon. Hopefully today.

Misha Gericke said...

Not sure about 100%, but it is normal for me. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

Hey, maybe that's what you're supposed to do. Play around with it and see?

Misha Gericke said...

No... quitters never get far in this line of work.

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha even if it's about why you love cleaning microwaves. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah that's so true!

Misha Gericke said...

Hahahaha sorry!

Misha Gericke said...

Thanks, Shannon! I'm really excited about it. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah. And more often than not, all you needed was a bit of a break. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha yeah. Although I find that writing tends to be its own reward. On the days it goes well.

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah that's something I had to remind myself of repeatedly.

Misha Gericke said...

Absolutely.

Misha Gericke said...

You go, girl!

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha I can only imagine that picture. :-P

Misha Gericke said...

Thanks, Pat! I'm glad that you appreciated tonight's post. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah I don't think I ever hit my head quite that hard.

Hope this round of edits go well for you. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

Hahahaha mmm... sometimes I consider becoming an aimless wanderer. ;-)