Thursday, June 28, 2012

Writing Crap

Kittens in a basket: because a basket of kittens makes everything better.
You know when it's just not working?

You're putting in your time, butt in chair, yet you know what you're producing is utter crap?

The past few days have been that way for me.

Don't get me wrong, I've written plenty of bad scenes before. But usually while I'm busy writing I don't realize they're bad. It's when I re-read that I realize, Oh yeah, that's bad. 

In this case, I know while I'm writing that it's bad. When I go back and re-read, it's still bad.

This isn't the same as writer's block.

What is it? Loss of confidence? Exhaustion?

Did the muse go on summer vacation?

I dissected the problem as I was mopping the floor this morning (because when you can't produce good writing you might as well go mop the floor) and I think I may have figured out at least one reason why I'm struggling.

Lack of percolation time.

See, the dashingly handsome sidekick has been gone on a trip and I have been home with the five kids, which, while not completely different from the normal routine, still requires a good bit of mental preparation and figuring out logistics.

I haven't been thinking about my book in my non-writing-hours. I've been thinking about when I need to get So-and-So up in order to make it to VBS on time, and how I can eke out just a bit more time for my baby's nap before we rush off to the next activity. I've been very adamant about bedtimes and stricter than usual about everything (because I have to be when Daddy's gone).

I haven't allowed my brain to wander.

All that stress must be showing itself on the page.

I wrote through it, however. I'll probably have to rewrite everything I wrote in the last two days, but I'm proud of myself for slogging through.

Today I had a blissful drive in the van that gave my brain a break ... so I think I'm starting to recover. Phew!

How about you? Do you KNOW when you're writing crap and what do you do about it?


  1. Good for you writing through it! There are a few things I do when I know what I'm writing is just awful:
    1) Keep writing. Because otherwise on top of bad writing I'll have the guilt that I didn't even try.
    2)Write something else. Even if it's just a writing exercise, or the beginning of a short story or a blog post. It reminds me that while the scene I was working on may stink, I'm not intrinsically a bad writer.
    3)Read a really good book.
    I hope you get through this slump soon. You're an amazing writer, Amy! We all have these days. I can just imagine Shakespeare looking at his pages and snapping his quill pen in half, thinking, "In sooth, these words have the elegance of horse manure," or something like that. :)

  2. When I write crap? which is often... I write something different .. I might try a poem... write a blog post... or pull out an old WIP ... if its all senseless... I read through my crit partners manuscripts. And if that doesn't inspire me ... I start afresh tomorrow!

  3. I hate that feeling! I agree, though, I know when I start to feel discouraged, like the stars are all out of alignment, I need a break. I know I need exercise, a game of Wii with the kids, or a night out with Hubs. Get away and come back fresh.

  4. I'm there right now! The other day I wrote a scene I LOVED, but then realized I didn't know where to go from there. If I had the mc say all the things I'd originally planned, I lose a lot of the mystery and conflict right in the middle of the story. If I don't, I'm afraid it seems unrealistic. ACK!!!

    The good thing about WiP's is that we can always rewrite what isn't working... which is much easier said than done :)

  5. Have definitely been there! And it's so true. I've just begun something new and there's a part of me that wants to jump right in and get to writing, but I'm forcing myself to percolate over the idea first...easier said than done.

    But yeah, I can tell when I'm writing crap. Sometimes it's nicer that way. It's better than thinking I'm awesome and figuring out later that it was crap...that's a whole other letdown! HA! :)

    Glad you're on the mend!

  6. At least you are still writing! If you are at least getting plot down as you write and moving the story along you can always go back and focus on making the flow of the words better later.

    Although I am surprised you didn't go clean that green bathtub instead of the floor!

  7. Yes, I agree with Faith--usually when I'm jammed up mentally, I can read something and just let my mind go to another place. In awhile, the muse will strike, if you're writing the book you're supposed to write! I'm finally revising my first book (a NaNo book), and it took me four years to come to the point where I can look at it OBJECTIVELY and break down what needs to change. Don't push yourself too hard!

  8. Almost every word of every first draft I write is crap, and I'm proud of that. I have to push through stuff I know is bad so I have somewhere to start from.

    And when that one teeny nugget of goodness, that flash of brilliance slinks out of the steaming piles, that's when I know it was worth it.

    Not that it happens very often!

  9. Wow, you have to be so busy! I say give yourself some time off, like that ride in the van, and let things percolate. Don't worry about writing right now. Good luck!

  10. I always write crap. That's why I rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, rinse and repeat.
    Lathered Noun

  11. Oh yeah, I know that feeling altho it usually happens to me in revision.
    My hubs is gone most of the time so I have to really plot a lot before I start writing, or I find myself spinning. I write a loose timeline before I start a WIP and that keeps me on track w/ each scene. (At least to start.)I don't reread while I'm drafting so it's not until I'm revising that I see the crap. :(

  12. Oh, I hope you get your good writing mojo back -- and kittens will make anything better.

    I have utter crapola writing days too, and I continue to write. Because I often have multiple projects going on, I simply work on what's easier. For me, that's typically NF.

    I need that percolation, thinking time for fiction ... for the mind to wander. I hope you will get some of that day-dreaming time. Hey, mopping the floor, washing dishes, and a nap work for me too.

    Hang in there, and keep writing. You can always shape the crapola into something better later.

  13. Sometimes I just write through the ugly,hoping that in better light on a better day there is at least a good idea underneath it all.

  14. I am so glad you wrote this! I have had one of those weeks also and haven't even been able to write. It is FRUSTRATING!
    Every time I think I have a large enough block of time to get things going I am interrupted and can't complete a thought.
    But lucky for us both, this shall pass :)

  15. sometimes i definitely know when i'm writing crap, other times i figure it out on re-reads. as long as i recognize it before i show it to someone, it's all good. all part of it.

    You just need time to clear your mind and start fresh!

  16. *Knocking on wood* That hasn't happened to me yet, but there are days when I'm more inspired than others! :)

  17. You're amazing for finding time to write anything with five kids at your hem.

    When I'm writing crap, I just keep writing, hoping at some point the good stuff will show up.

  18. Sometimes you have to keep on writing but sometimes, Amy, it's perfectly acceptable and understandable to not write, to give your brain and keyboard a break, to 'smell the flowers' or whatever the phrase is. So off you go, do a bit of flower sniffing, and I'm willing to bet that you'll return to the wip with renewed enthusiasm.

  19. I have SO been there. And I think you're right, percolating time is crucial.
    Catherine Denton

  20. Not too long ago I felt like I was writing crap. I paused writing my draft and wrote journal entries in the MC's voice since the problem was she seemed lacklustre in what I had written so far at the time. I was able to go back with more confidence and make the draft livelier. I also gave the manuscript a rest for a few days. Thinking time and breaks are the best fuel, even though it might appear that we're doing nothing when we really are.


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