Or Maybe Marushi's Just Lazy (What to do When You Don't Want to Write)

Discussion in 'Tips and Tricks' started by Lauriam, Mar 3, 2018.

  1. Lauriam I hope I didn't keep you waiting...

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    This is an interesting topic, one that, oddly enough, I hadn’t planned on covering. But two things happened that made me decide on this subject: First, I was recently approached by someone asking for advice on what to do when you feel obligated to write something you really don’t want to, and second; I have a different half-written topic I was going to post here in the Tips and Tricks section last month but isn't finished yet because I don’t want to write it. XD

    As a writer, this happens sometimes, for many different reasons. I still get messages from former fanfiction.net followers asking me if I intend to finish five-to-ten-year-old stories that I stopped writing, some of them because my interest in the base material dwindled, some of them because I didn’t have time for them, and some because a very bad experience with a toxic member left me with a sour taste for the whole fandom. I’ve also dropped stories because I disliked the work I’d already done and realized I didn’t care enough about the story to re-write it, I’ve dropped stories because I just didn’t have enough of a plot to make anything of it, heck, I’ve even dropped solid stories with good plot simply because I got bored of them.

    My stance is and has always been that if you don’t love what you’re writing, there’s no point in writing it. Writing, like many creative pursuits, is a reflection of the writer’s emotions. This isn’t to say that writers always write about what they’re feeling, like if someone writes a sad scene, that must mean they were sad when they penned it. But it means that when a writer loves their stories, when a writer cares about their work, they pour their heart into it - whether they meant to or not. We feel when we write, it reaches us in a way that other things don’t. That’s what makes our work come alive. It’s like… It’s like Sauron’s ring, lol. Writing is like Sauron’s ring: We pour our souls into this thing, these words, and that gives it life.

    When you don’t love what you’re writing… There’s no life in it. It’s just words. And the readers can tell, too. When you’re writing just because you’re supposed to, it falls flat, it’s emotionless, or dry. Loving your work is perhaps the single most important aspect to being a writer, even above actually being able to write. I’ve read books that, from a technical point of view, are just plain garbage. Bad writing, bad plot, bad characters… and yet, they stuck in my memory because I could just tell the author really loved this story they were trying to write. Whereas on the other end of things, I’ve read stories that were technically very well written and had no outstanding flaws, yet I don’t recall what happened in them because it all felt like it was written by a third party. It felt… distant. Cold, almost. I found myself skimming over the work, because the emotion the writer poured into it - obligation to finish something he didn’t care for - translated to me, the reader. And more often than not, I dropped the book before I read the ending.

    If you don't love what you're writing, there's no point in writing it.

    But what about that aforementioned obligation? What if the work you’re trying to write is something you can’t just drop, what if you’re obligated to complete it for some reason? Or what if you’ve taken a leap of faith and have left the traditional workforce, and are relying on your writing to get you through the month? Sometimes we can’t just drop a story because we’re not ‘feeling it anymore.’ That’s not always an option…

    But if you don’t like it, it’s going to turn out inferior. What are we supposed to do then?

    Well, if dropping it isn’t an option, but you don’t want to churn out subpar work, here are a couple of tricks that have helped me get through a writer’s block over the years:
    1. Listen to music. Music is a great way to get creative juices flowing, especially if you know the genre you need to finish a difficult section or even a less-than-liked plotline. Need to channel your inner angst? The band ‘Red’ is my favorite for writing angst. Are you writing a Fantasy novel? The Lord of the Rings soundtrack is a classic, though I’ll also listen to Youtube musicians Adrian von Ziegler or Peter Gundry, especially for that Celtic flair. What if you’re writing a fight scene? I usually just search for ‘epic anime battle music’ and put on a playlist. And of course, I listen to the TWEWY ost almost constantly, lol. If you find the right music, you can get your creativity flowing in no time. In fact, several of my personal favorite stories I’ve ever written have been completely inspired by songs.

    2. Watch inspiring and/or plot-heavy movies. Again, Lord of the Rings is a classic, especially if you have the Extended versions. Nothing makes me feel as much as LotR Extended does. They are easily my favorite movies of all time. I also watch the Star Wars original trilogy, the Bourne trilogy, Mary Poppins, the Secret Life of Walter Mitty… Heck, even the classic Muppets’ movies are surprisingly deep and inspiring if you pay attention. I also highly recommend the first four seasons of Doctor Who, maybe five and six if you’re in the right mood. Those first four seasons are some of the most inspiring stories I’ve ever seen. In addition, there's a little known but well-loved television series from the 90's called Due South, which restores my faith in humanity like nothing else, lol. These movies and shows I listed are big for a reason, (most of them at least, though Walter Mitty and Due South are just my personal recommendations) and watching them can help to give you the emotional boost you need to get back into your own work.

    3. Go for a walk. Seriously, this one is so simple, but it really helps. Find a park or a pretty sort of wilderness nearby or even an urban area you just find really cool, and take a walk. No music this time, no distractions, nowhere to be. Just you and your thoughts and the fresh air. *Works best in early morning, foggy days, or during a sunset, lol.

    4. Talk to someone. If you’re like me, talking out loud is a surefire way to figure out what to do next. The amount of times I’ve sought out my sister to be a listening ear while I talk about my stories is vast, lol, and then in turn, I’ve listened to her talk about her stories. Sometimes, someone can give you really good advice or can make the key suggestion to turn your work around, but even if they have nothing to offer, you’d be surprised how fast you can realize the problem on your own after accidentally saying it out loud. And if you have no one to talk to, either go all Sherlock and talk to yourself (or a skull lol) or even open up a blank document and write about your block as if you were sending it in an email. We’re writers, after all; wordsmiths. Sometimes it isn’t until we’ve laid out the problem in a tangible sentence that we even realize what it is.
    So there are a couple of my tips and tricks for what to do when you don’t want to write but you have to.

    But I still hold to my stance that, if you don’t love what you’re writing, there’s no point in writing it. If those tips don’t work and you simply cannot feel for your work, it might be time to cut it loose. After all, if you’re obsessing with trying to fix a subpar story you can’t love, you might be missing out on new ideas worthy of your devotion.

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