Wow, well first, thank you so much for posting a question on my MTA thread. It's been so long since the last post. How exciting! Thank you!
Secondly, thank you for your many and lovely compliments to me as a writer and for your many reviews. If you haven't heard me say it before, it is quite an honor to be thought of so highly. There are so many wonderful authors on this amazing site. Thank you so much.
You have excellent questions as I have certainly struggled along the way... writer's block, flailing motivation, unsure of how to get from A to Z. I've been through all of these issues. And unfortunately, there never really have been remedies that have worked consistently. Something that helped me once, might not help me later. It can be so frustrating!
How do I keep myself driven to keep working on my stories? Tough question, but I'll try...
1. I try to keep my original goal in mind... Finish something!
From the beginning of posting on HPFF, I had a personal goal of creating stories to "prove" to myself that I could actually finish something. I had so many original fiction starts and ideas, but I never seemed to be able to get anywhere near finished. I knew that if I was ever going to really try to be published someday, then I had to practice writing through the finish line. To date, of the 13 stories that I have on the Archive, only 2 remain WIPs (Delilah and Disappear with Me). Disappear should technically be "Abandoned," but I just can't bring myself to do it, as I want to finish it eventually.
Having said all that, I have grown so much as a writer here, because my original goal forced me to focus on writing good, "publisher ready" chapters, where I had failed miserably at this in my original fiction.
2. Write short stories and one-shots along the way. One at a time.
When I get severe writer's block on my novel, I need to write short stories. It gives me something else to think about for awhile and gets me finishing something again. A success amongst my failure, if you will. These keep the creative juices flowing, even if it isn't for Delilah. I try to keep them short so that they can be finished sooner than later. And I try to only do one at a time. Too many WIPs spell disaster for all of them.
3. Read and Review other stories.
During writer's block, reading other stories can bring inspiration (and a good rest as I step away from the novel).
4. Use Excel to plot out the plot.
When writing Delilah's chapter 22, Kiss Me Goodbye Love, where Draco is in the hospital wing, I had the worst block of my life. I just couldn't get the order of the scene right. I felt it was a pivotal moment in the story and was so afraid to mess it up. There was so much that had to be said and done and I just couldn't get it together. Someone suggested the "Snowflake Method" of writing. I didn't use it exactly, but was able to take one thing from it that helped: plotting the scene in Excel. I was able to plot the points I wanted to get through and rearrange them until I got the order right. It helped me get through the chapter. Later, I went ahead and used Excel to plot the remainder of the story. It has helped me with trying to stay on task and reminds me of what needs to happen in each chapter so that it continues to progress to the end. It is not set in stone of course, so I move things around when needed.
I'd be lying if I didn't mention the many wonderful Reviewers and their kind words that keep me going. Reviews are so very important to me and are golden. They give me much needed encouragement. I'll admit that "The Winds of Azkaban" and "When a Wizard Grieves" might never have been finished had it not been for the amazing responses. And for Delilah, I know that it would never have gotten as far as it has. Right now, so many have supported me throughout Delilah, that I owe them a finished, completed story with an end worthy of the rest of the story. I have my plans, but writing is difficult for me as the story gets more and more complicated.
6. Just do it.
Sometimes, I just have to get away from everyone and everything, grab my Excel plot points and my notes and sit down and start typing. Sometimes, I force myself to begin writing, even if I don't feel like it. Chances are that once I start, even if not very good, I'll still plug along until one plot point is finished, even if it is only one little piece of a large chapter. This helps me keep plugging along. Unfortunately, sometimes you just have to force it on the page and edit it later.
7. Write when it is flowing.
If something is on my mind, regardless of how far into the future it might be, I will still write what I can while the inspiration hits. It sounds like you have done this as well and it is the right thing to do.
8. Commitment and Determination.
This might sound similar to #1, but I really think it is different. I have committed myself to finishing Delilah. It is a very important personal goal of mine. I have so much time invested in it, that it would be a tragedy not to finish. And so, I have made it a personal conviction to finish it and hopefully finish well. And by that I mean that I hope I don't get lazy and post crappy, un-descriptive, rushed chapters just to finish. And no matter how long it takes, no matter how grueling or slow I am, I will complete it. I've made it personal and important. Sometimes, I work at a snail's pace and it is daunting, but I plug along... each chapter closer to the finish line. The first year of writing Delilah, I completed 14 chapters. The second and third years both had only 7 chapters each. I hate that I write that slow, but it cannot be helped. I have lost readers, reviewers, and Favorites because of this, but I try not to let that discourage me. I just keep going...
9. Staying Organized / Back up stories.
On my computer, I always save the chapters by number. I will print all that I have (even if bits and pieces of future chapters) and keep it in a folder in chapter order (or at least where I think it will end up). I will staple printed material with handwritten notes as well... so long as they belong in the same chapter. This helps me tremendously so that I stay on track and do not lose anything that I have already written. Trust me, some things I hand wrote three years ago, I still have in that folder because I'm still not to that chapter yet. I do not want to lose anything! And by all means, back up your stories/chapters/everything so that they are not tragically lost. When you are writing a lengthy novel, it is not worth the risk of losing it all forever.
10. Queue closures.
Yes, even the queue can have me scrambling to post something when I know it is about to close. It closes for the December holidays and I think for one week in the spring. It never fails to motivate me to finish a chapter and posting at the final hour. I'm not sure why, but it really works. As do deadlines for challenge stories.
11. Music, Fan Videos and Fan Art.
I am a lover of all kinds of music, especially the kind with a sad or romantic tone. And how could I not list the amazing Dramione Fan Videos and Art. Such talent somewhere out there in cyber space. Some are truly amazing and convincing. When I need a boost, sometimes I will seek out some great material out there that serves as brilliant inspiration.
Writing a novel is work, no doubt about it. It is not an exact science, but an art form. It is hard and sometimes authors lose interest, become discouraged, become overwhelmed, or lose steam. (I've felt all of those things). Proof of this lies in the unfortunate statistic that even though there are currently 8,893 Dramione stories on the Archive, only 2,640 are listed as completed.
Someday, I will eventually walk away from HPFF to write original fiction and when I do, I want to leave the Archive with only completed stories. At least, that's the goal. LOL!
You mention the "gaps" between the more exciting chapters. Well for that, all I can say is that some gaps do not need an entire chapter. Some only need a few paragraphs to get the reader up to date on what is going on. For the Delilah story, once Hermione realizes who the author of the Delilah book is, it will leap forward to a funeral at the war's end.
I want to encourage you in all your writing journeys and wish you the best. For some writers, I suppose the words fly easy and fast. I hope that for you. But for me, sometimes they fly fast, sometimes they don't. Sometimes it takes me 3 months to post an update. The Delilah story is complicated and takes a lot of time to sort through. However... as of current plans, it only has 5 more chapters to go.
Anyway, thank you so very much for seeking me out here on the forum and leaving me a question. I hope I don't sound too negative. You can do it. After writing all of the above, my best advice is to stay dedicated to finishing and just keep going. It will be a monumental accomplishment when it is completed and you will be very proud.
Hopefully my experiences will help you as you write and write and write...
Best wishes. See you on the Archive...
Edited by DarkWhisper, 10 January 2014 - 04:01 AM.