Wednesday, February 6, 2013

IWSG - Feb 2013

Alex J Cavanaugh's brilliant dream of giving the writing world a guilt-free opportunity to vent about their fears and frustrations is back again. And this time, it's personal.

Actually, I've been busily writing my short story for Andrew Leon's Imagination Room contest (which has a deadline of today) and I'd hope to post along with this, but as it turns out, the short story isn't ready. So I'll have it ready before midnight's deadline I hope and post it then... please, wish me luck.

Because I've had something like a month to work on it and it's still not ready. It's a combination of procrastination, which is a real thing, not something I just made up, and this paralyzing need to keep changing things.

For example, I wrote a two person story. I had a flash last night that I need a third major character. I immediately thought of how to weave his person in, what their role would be, how it would help things... and I would do it if I had more time.

Of course, my other stories don't have such deadlines, so I do the same with them, I just keep on tinkering with them, never really finishing them. To this point, I've found two ways of dealing with the problem I have:

1) Arbitrarily calling them finished whether they need more work or not, or...

2) Embracing my problem, and just never finishing a story.

That's about it. I have found it easier to call it done with shorter stories, but once something hits 2500 words or so it starts getting really tough for me to leave it alone.

So, that's me. I appreciate your time.

24 comments:

DRC said...

It's a common problem with some writers. They can't seem to get past a certain point because they become obsessed with going back, adding, changing, editing, and so never reach the end. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and continue forward to the finish point. You can then go back and edit and change as much as you want but at least you have a finished first draft - unless it's at this point that you just can't stop...

Good luck with meeting that deadline :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Go with the first one!
Hope you finish it. No wait, you HAVE to finish it.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Best of wishes meeting your deadline! I have that trouble too with stories. I think I'm done, and then Wham! I get a new idea. Sometimes those ideas are worth chasing down, and sometimes I just jot a note down and ignore them - that's dangerous of course, but it depends on the day.

Laura Brown said...

The upside with annoying deadlines is that they can teach you discipline. I think left to my own devices, I'd never get finished. With a deadline, you have a clear idea of what sort of timeframe you have, and you have to aim for it as best you can. I am quite scatty, but I have found writing to deadlines has started to wean me out of some bad habits. I intend to use what I've learned working on my novels too.

M.J. Fifield said...

I have the exact problem described by DRC. And when I do manage to get to the end of a manuscript and go back to edit, I have that same problem all over again.

It's no wonder I never get anywhere.

M. J. Joachim said...

2,500 words is a lot - hard not to tinker with things like that! Here's to meeting the deadline! You can do it!

mshatch said...

I used to do that a lot - to the point where I didn't finish anything either. But I finally stopped (mostly) and forced myself to leave all those ragged edges behind and dragged myself to the next chapter and the next until finally, I finished something. It wasn't easy, and it still isn't but if I keep on pushing through maybe one of these days I'll have more finished manuscripts than unfinished ones. Good luck!

Robin said...

Good luck on your short story for the contest tonight. Maybe this deadline is a good thing, because then you have to say, done. :)
I really struggle with being able to say "I'm done," as well. It's my CP's that have to tell me (once I have the courage to share) whether my writing is "ready" or not.

Brinda said...

Finish it man. Just do it. There is no perfection. I'm betting if you asked every (humble) writer in history they would tell you the same thing.

Brinda said...

Finish it man. Just do it. There is no perfection. I'm betting if you asked every (humble) writer in history they would tell you the same thing.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Well you have to choose to keep going and finish or leave it unfinished if an ending just won't come. Don't let an 'unfinishable' story eat away your energy. If it aint working, move on.

Briane P said...

2,500 words? I thought he said 2,500,000. I was trying to out-Proust Proust.

The best stories never end. That's what I've decided.

Briane P said...

I thought of this only after going back and rereading your post.

Believe in yourself. You're an awesome writer. Sometimes the reworking and re-editing is simply not believing that you're DONE. I've enjoyed everything you've ever written. Do you re-edit your blog posts? Probably not. And they're great.

You might want to set deadlines for every story: Say "As of March 1, I will NEVER work on this story again, not so much as to add a semicolon." If on March 1, you don't feel it's publishable, give up and move on.

Have a commitment device to back that up -- like taking all of your copies of the story and emailing them to yourself on that day, using Futureme.org to delay the email for a year.

Briane P said...

I thought of this only after going back and rereading your post.

Believe in yourself. You're an awesome writer. Sometimes the reworking and re-editing is simply not believing that you're DONE. I've enjoyed everything you've ever written. Do you re-edit your blog posts? Probably not. And they're great.

You might want to set deadlines for every story: Say "As of March 1, I will NEVER work on this story again, not so much as to add a semicolon." If on March 1, you don't feel it's publishable, give up and move on.

Have a commitment device to back that up -- like taking all of your copies of the story and emailing them to yourself on that day, using Futureme.org to delay the email for a year.

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

I didn't make the deadline for Andrew's story contest. I wanted to write something, but I've been house hunting and working with a real estate agent and spending evenings combing through a real estate application on my iPad. I just don't have the time right now.

And I love your writing. Stop feeling insecure, friend.

C. Lee McKenzie said...

I totally understand how once you've invested so much time to crank out 2500 words, you must go on with it.


Andrew Leon said...

I can't wait to see it!
And, well, that's part of what the whole editing bit is for, to keep you on track with finishing and not just tinkering. Right?

Nancy LaRonda Johnson said...

I can truly see the "never quite finished" problem happening for me if I ever wrote a short story longer than a flash fiction piece, which is why I love flash fiction. Otherwise, they would keep growing into at least a novella.

You can do it, however! Just think of what ending you'd like to have for this story that could grow into a book. After the contest, you can continue it until it's truly complete. At that point, don't think of it as a short story, but part of a novel. I hope this works for you.

Cindy said...

I'm sure you will finish it soon. You just have to be stubborn and push yourself.

stu said...

I find it helps to remember that a short story is just one version of a story. You're not aiming for the perfect, definitive telling of it, but rather one that is right for the moment.

Nigel Mitchell said...

Hope it's done by the time you read this. And know it will be worth the effort

Shell Flower said...

I admire you for working so hard on the same story. For me, it's the opposite problem. I tend to try to finish quickly, submit, and then think of the perfect thing when it's too late. At least you have patience. Good luck.

Donna Hole said...

Get to work Rusty! good luck with the deadline.

I find I can't seem to writer past 3000 words; finished with the story or not.

.......dhole

Deborah Walker said...

Interesting. I don't have this problem. I've always had a strong feeling as to when a story is baked. That's to say it's as good as I can get it.

Are you giving yourself enough time. I'm kinda but slow. A 2.5K story would take me about 12 hours.That's actual writing time, not dillying around time. Sometimes longer. I'm sure there are writers who are slower, but there are writers who are much quicker.

So, I guess I'm saying it doesn't matter how long it takes. As long as it gets finished.