Blog Entry #17: Writing Advice-Motivation #5-Keeping Things Fresh

Once you are at a point of daily writing ritual, the work itself can sometimes turn unconscious. You will spend much of your day thinking about your story, its various pieces, its characters. You’ll sit down to write in your morning or evening and put down everything you thought of or jotted down. Hopefully this ritual will continue for the rest of your life, barring your own changes, additions, and rituals. You will form your own everyday creative stint, and your work will flow out of you.

Or will it? Oftentimes as we write, we get worried that our own work isn’t as good as say…just about anyone else that has ever written a simple monosyllable. We think about our own work constantly, our stories, our pieces of story, our words, our poems, and after a while they start to become bland. Almost like watching a beautiful stream flow and flow and flow until the imagery of water becomes static nonsense. Maybe you’re halfway through your first novel, maybe you’re on your second, maybe you’re in the middle of a poem, or a screenplay, and suddenly everything you’re doing feels stale, stiff, and lifeless. What do you do?

This is actually the most fascinating and beautiful aspect of writing. It’s the fact that the only thing limiting you is yourself. Put aside convention and trope and stereotype for a moment. Think about your own work, your creative soul and what you are striving to do. Think about your goals. What do you hope to achieve? What sort of story do you wish to tell? Throughout our lives, we are influenced constantly by outside forces. For the writer this is both good and bad. Every piece of everything will influence you. Maybe you are certain of your story idea, only to have the entire thing turned on its head by a film plot. Maybe you see your current idea already exists. Maybe you feel as if your protagonist or villain are suddenly uninteresting. So what?

Change stuff up. Play with your first draft Introduce something that you did not previously think of, or change some aspect of your research and outline. Introduce a new threat, a new character. Kill someone. Take something away. Give your story new life if you believe that it is losing itself in breaths. But also remember to not jeopardize what you have created so far out of sheer panic. Because there’s another truth to this. You think about your own work constantly, so of course aspects of it become boring to you. If you’re writing a novel, think about it in these terms: you dream up, you research, you make a first draft, you write a second draft, you edit, you add, you take away. You read and reread. You will become so aware of your story it will be almost painfully boring after a time. Just remember that other people will find your work interesting because it is new to them. If you need to, lean on the advice of friends and peers, and think about your tropes and character standings. Make your story interesting on its own merit.

If your motivation increases from this, that’s great! Sometimes you may need to take a break from a particular manuscript, draft, or outline. Sometimes you may need to work on another project or another aspect of what your current idea is. After you finish a draft, you need to step away for a time and allow the work to marinate without you. You need to forget about it and then look upon it with fresh eyes. Your story deserves your absolute attention and care, but you also have to find it as interesting as anyone who is going to read it. Whatever the case, don’t lose sight of your daily motivation, your goals, and the things about your story you originally found interesting. Most likely, your brain is just getting in the way of itself. Don’t let a single thought, a single day, ruin the great longevity and possibility of a work.