“An author is a fool who, not content with boring those he lives with, insists on boring future generations.”
– Charles de Montesquieu
Uh-oh…my worst fear is happening right now, so I have to take a break from my story. And yes, I’m sure you have guessed it: I’M BORED. Not with writing it (though that sometimes happens, too), but in rereading it. Yet I can’t figure out if I’m getting bored because I’ve already reread and revised these same parts several times before or because these are just genuinely boring scenes that readers would get even more bored with.
Is it bad that my first instinct is to get up and walk away for the night rather than keep plugging through? I mean, it’s not like I’m a published author against a deadline, after all…yet I know that real writers do not wait for inspiration to write; it’s a discipline, and part of that discipline is trudging through when the going is difficult. That said, I’ve been looking at it for hours now, so if I mentally step away to dash off this post right now and then go crack open someone else’s novel to read, that’s also an investment in my writing future, no? And to continue over-rationalizing for myself, life has to exist outside of the storyworld as well if we’re to accumulate any authentic experience and emotion to be able to draw on for those stories—living life, versus only writing about it, is how we get our ideas (consider this post of inadvertent character-finding in “Of Characters and Other Weirdos” from the Write in Berlin blog).
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
– Ben Franklin
I hear you, Ben, and will try my best to make the most of this night if I do, in fact, shut down the computer until tomorrow. And when I do revisit this little yawn-factory that is the last quarter of my story, I will be refreshed and ready to infuse some oomph into it. And I think corresponding with this boredom is my great knack for comparing myself to others’ writing again. And if the latter is the case, then maybe I need to adopt this mentality and just get over myself:
“My books are water; those of the great geniuses are wine. Everybody drinks water.”
– Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Well, hopefully I can work on becoming water and not the sleeping pill the water is washing down. Okay then, I’m off to get my sight back. If you ever encounter this same feeling, please cure my boredom with your comments!
April 26th, 2010 at 10:12
Hahaha – man, how often I have obsessed 😉 about my story being so predictable and my characters clichéd and the ending …. argh.
The best advice I can give you there is: leave it be, watch a movie, take a walk, talk to friends (I usually avoid to read books in those self-doubt phases as it frustrates me how others could come up with something cool while I just suck) – what the heck, even read blogs of other writers, Berlin or otherwhere, to see that you are not alone at all with your worries.
And after you slept over it, take a look again at what you have written. Still watery eyes from boredom? You might be right then, but as well you might be wrong, simply because you know your shit (not literally meant!) too well!. Only way out – send it to some friendly but merciless readers you trust. They will have a fresh eye and sort you out. Yes, it means exposing your vulnerable parts – but feedback might be brilliant anyway. And if not – at least you know and are able now to kick those boring parts in the butt. (Man, why do I swear so much today? Mummy would be disapproving …)
April 27th, 2010 at 10:25
Hurray! My girls to the rescue! Thanks for the empathy and advice. I do have a reader (and another in the pipeline), though I’ve been stalling on doling out additional stuff to them until it gets more polished, so what I need to do is heed your words and just expose it when it’s more raw. In the meantime, I’ve got my knuckle-rings on and will provoke my boring crap into a one-on-one confrontation: “C’mon, Rambling Dialogue and Unoriginal Characterization, is that the best you’ve got? Bring it!”
April 27th, 2010 at 12:23
Great you got readers – you just inspired me to another write another post, btw – thank you!!! And in case you another fresh eye (German speaking) – let me know 😉
April 27th, 2010 at 15:00
By the way (keep spamming you with my comments today – yey to distractions!) – thank you for backtracking to my article the other day! Am happy you liked it.
April 27th, 2010 at 15:37
My pleasure, m’dear! It was a clever read, as all your posts are. In light of its subject-matter, you may get a giggle out of the inspirations described in this blog: http://milo-inmediasres.blogspot.com/2010/04/characters.html. And, hey, spam away with your comments, I enjoy them! You’re a tremendous source of support, and I’m so grateful 🙂
April 26th, 2010 at 12:52
“Is it bad that my first instinct is to get up and walk away for the night rather than keep plugging through?”
No, it’s not bad and if it is, I’m right there with you and we’re pure evil my friend 🙂 I think this is a natural reaction of working on a single project for too long and too excessively! I too, believe in discipline, but I also believe taking a break from time to time and just watching Glee!
The fear we have about boring our readers can make us stop writing for good so I try not to think about it and try to be more like “water” 🙂
April 27th, 2010 at 10:27
*phew* Again, a relief to know it’s not just me. I have a guest in town this week, and my computer is in the guest room, so it’s as though Fate is forcing me to back off from it for a while. Thanks, Lua! Looking forward to reading the next installment of your story when I get a chance!
April 27th, 2010 at 22:21
“The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t write.” – Anonymous
My advice? Set it aside and work on something else for a bit–but don’t let it get too cold sitting there waiting for you . . . =]
April 28th, 2010 at 16:29
That quotation is perfect. I literally just got back from meeting with a newly published writer who was encouraging me to just write even it’s crap and leave it for later to go back and delete and polish. Thank you for reinforcing that, as I do believe you’re right! 🙂
April 30th, 2010 at 19:45
Love the quotes you included here. So appropriate, hilarious, and wise.
I say you treat the bored thing as you would a luvah. If the relationship is becoming more work than pleasure, it’s time to give each other some space. But what happens the moment you walk away and he doesn’t chase after you? You start to miss him. And the longer you’re away, the more he’ll keep popping into your mind. But from the distance you’ll be able to see more clearly what the problems w/ the relationship were and how to fix them. When you’re ready to come back you’ll be more productive than you would have been if you’d forced yourself to stay and stare at him. The only think you’d have accomplished is resentment.
I also recommend that you tell your lame ass reader to get her bum moving to read over the chapters you sent over a friggin’ month ago. Sheesh. Getting someone else’s perspective will probably do wonders to get your adrenaline pumping on the story again. Tell you what, I’ll go rough up your reader for you, and I can guarantee she’ll have something to you next week. 😉
May 1st, 2010 at 07:15
*hee* My dear reader may take her time…I know she’s busy editing others’ work into the next big literary sensation 🙂 I adore the relationship metaphor–that fits every aspect so well…damn, just what I needed, another relationship to tend to…