Monday, February 7, 2011

Boredom

I have never written a book that I didn’t get bored with somewhere in the middle. I think this happens to many writers. The excitement of a new project has worn off, the end is a long way away, and you have read, re-read, thought, and re-thought so much about it that if you weren’t bored there would be something wrong with you.

In the past, when this happened as I was writing my own “stuff”, I would often take a break. (To be honest, sometimes I still do.) I’d put whatever I was bored with away, and start something else – something shiny, exciting, and new. The downside to this is that I might never come back to it, or come back years later, when the momentum had to be built up all over again – and guess what, another spate of boredom would ensue in the middle, so I had really gained nothing. Yet another downside is that I always had a niggling in the back of my mind that a story wasn’t being told, that should be.

In fact, I can’t think of many upsides to taking a break, except the short term one of regaining needed energy – and this is only an upside if you use that energy to jump back into the project soon.

I discovered another way of handling this awful boredom when I began ghostwriting, when breaks were not an option. I couldn’t tell my client that I was bored with his or her book and was “taking a break” – not if I wanted to keep my clients, that is. So instead I slogged through the boring middle piece, sure in my soul that I was writing the dullest prose known to human kind. But an amazing thing happened: the enthusiasm came back, the prose wasn’t so dull after all, and the final third of the book slid off my fingers as if it were greased.

Slogging through boredom takes courage, faith, and trust. I’ll probably never love this segment of book-writing, but I now know that it is just part of the process, sort of a test to see how dedicated I really am. Why should the universe take me seriously if a little boredom can make me quit?

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Kim Pearson is an author, ghostwriter, and owner of Primary Sources, a writing service that helps others become authors of professional and compelling books and articles. She has authored 6 books of her own, and ghostwritten more than 30 non-fiction books and memoirs. To learn more about her books or services, visit http://www.primary-sources.com/.
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13 comments :

  1. I can really relate to what you're saying, especially since I am not an outliner. Suddenly, I'm faced with a place in my manuscript where I don't know where to go and what to say. Sometimes I would just ignore the manuscript and go on to something new and more exciting, but now I'm plowing through. What I've found is once I force myself to keep at it, I discover new paths to go down and explore. It turns out not as hard as I'd thought.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://facebook.com/morgan.mandel

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  2. Yep, I'm just at that stage in my WIP novel. I am working on this transition from one part of the novel to the next and I can't think of an interesting way to do it. It has happened to me before. Sometimes, I take a break and go for a walk. Then I come back and reread the first (more interesting) part of the manuscript and I realize that, hey, it's not that bad at all. Often the excitment carries over and I have an idea of how to proceed.
    Christa
    http://www.christa-polkinhorn.com
    http://christa-polkinhorn.blogspot.com/

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  3. I don't plot very far in advance, so I'm always discovering 'new' stuff. However, I also don't have a deadline, since I haven't broken into the 'book on proposal' rankings,and still have to finish each book before I can submit it. But I'd like to have that problem!

    Terry
    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

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  4. I seem to hit this bump after the initial writing phase. It's time to begin the editing phase. That's when things slow down for me.

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  5. It is so hard to write when I am bored with my current story, and I don't force it, as I think my boredom will show in the writing. What I do is find something to energize my creativity from a totally different direction. Watch a movie, dabble with some painting, anything to prime the creative pump. Then when I go back to the WIP, I skip past that boring spot and write ahead with scenes that are more engaging to me at the moment. Often, I then go back to the boring section days or weeks later and can make it better.

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  6. When this happens to me, I'll write a scene I've been wanting to write, regardless of whether that's the scene that would come logically next in the story line. I've also worked on characters' histories or doing a diagram of the setting.

    Honestly, I think this is one of the highest hurdles writers have to scramble over. I confess I'm not always successful.

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  7. Thanks for new ways to combat the boredom blues. I have found that it's not usually the writing that is boring; it's my attitude toward the writing. Perhaps I am part bluejay -- it's so easy to be lured away by "something shiny".

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  8. Excellent! That middle-story boredom is a problem most of us face. I agree with Elspeth--try writing a scene farther down the road or toward the end. Sometimes that gives you the clues about what to write in between.

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  9. It's really the part of writing that nobody tells you about, isn't it? It's good to hear from the "been-there's" and learn that it's something everyone must face and overcome.

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  10. I either get bored or lose inspiration around the mid-point, whether or not I've outlined and regardless of the genre I'm writing: fiction or non-fiction.

    I've found that the only thing to do is keep slogging. If I take a break and move onto something else, I invariably never return. I no longer allow myself to create half-finished masterpieces!

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  11. Great piece.
    I'm glad to hear that I'm not alone on this mid-story energy slump dilema.

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  12. The last paragraph of this post made me smile, and the overall message was great. I WILL be taking this advice--so simple an idea, yet so difficult to take.

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  13. I'm just writing my second book and am in this bored state of mind... Good to hear that it is common! I will pull through this!

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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