A to Z Challenge: Determination

On A-day, I asked the veterans what advice they wanted to share with the new kids.

About 90% of them had versions of the same message:


There’s a very good reason why this is so big in the veterans’ eyes.

They know. They’ve been beyond the point where the new idea’s shininess wears off. They kept going. They’ve been at edges of mile-wide plot holes. They kept going. They’ve had to beg, plead and bribe uncooperative characters to play along. They kept going. Their muses have vanished. For days. They kept going.

They kept going.

Oh it all sounds glorious to you now, doesn’t it? So clean and surgical. But if you were a fly on the wall of a writer’s office, you’ll see it’s not pretty.

Some writers get buzzed on caffeine to deal with the stress. Some become nervous wrecks.

Some (I’m in this group) do this…

Sometimes I do it while screaming like a banshee.

Yeah. Not pretty at all.

But we keep going. At some point, we stop messing around and get back to writing. We go looking for the story’s shine again. We go filling up plot holes. We find some middle way with out characters and they show us where the story should be heading. And we let the muse back in to continue.

Sad. Isn’t it?

Yet, there’s no other way for a writer to live. Without writing — without finishing what we’re writing — we (at least I) feel incomplete.

So we keep going. Because shit. What else are we going to do?

What do you do when bumping into a problem while writing?
New kids. Do you think what I described is normal? Congrats! You might just make it.


98 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge: Determination

  1. LOL. Lots and lots and lots of caffeine.

    Did I mention it took me 7 years from the time I decided to start this crazy journey until the day I found my first contract offer in my inbox? (I rejected it, but got another three months later)…

    That's SEVEN years.

    Determination doesn't begin to cover it. πŸ˜‰

  2. When I run into a problem I do one of two things: I pace and talk it out to myself until a solution *magically* presents itself, or I back off and give myself a break and let the problem roil around in my subconscious for a few days…even a few weeks.

  3. Yeah, when I get stuck, I go do a work out. Nothing like a shot of naturally produced endorphins to get the creativity back on track.

  4. Breaks are good. I did that for a WiP I started a few years ago and just came to a standstill. Sometimes you need to take a break, look at notes or anything you know about the story and take a while to figure out where you want to go. Come back to it when you have had time to think. That usually works for me. I took my break, started it again for NaNo 2011 and I knew where I was going. I'm now editing it. A breather is good. πŸ™‚

  5. Lately I'm doing that wondering where the inspiration for the end of my story is. Where? Where?

    In the meantime, I'm world building for the new novel and made a dent in starting Backworlds #4.

    Don't hit your head too hard. You need that.

  6. Love the comments here, as well as your advice! Determination is the only way to make it. If that means waking up before every else, that's what has to happen. If it means standing up and stretching for five minutes and then pounding at the keyboard and feeling like it's all junk, then so be it. Eventually the story gets pounded into shape – after a few headdesk moments.

  7. When I run into a problem, I step back and do something else. I play with my kid, go for a walk, or clean. I think my husband secretly loves it when I have a block! A short break and then I get right back to it. Push past the problem even if it is not to your liking. You can always fix it when you rewrite.

  8. I'm a Capricorn; we can't help being resilient even if we try. My D for A – Z is on Disassociation; hope to see you around sometime during April. -Belinda.

  9. Simple and best advice. I have a tendency to hit my head on the desk, but a break and some coffee or jellybeans will get me doing again. Our path is a hard one to take and we can't be quitters. πŸ™‚

  10. I'd rather bang my head now out of frustration over a project rather than bang my head later out of regret for what could have been. It did, however, take me years to figure that out.

  11. This is me, too – except I play with my kids, go for walks, take hot showers…lots of tangles break free for me in the shower.

    I live with two children who have never been indoctrinated into the schoolish way of thinking. Seeing how they deal with frustration while reaching for a goal has inspired me.

    They try until they've had enough challenge or stress, and then they do something else. When they come back, it's with new ideas, and a willingness to accept a challenge again.

    They don't see it as determination or giving up. They see it as living.

    I've come to imagine it as like weaving. Sometimes I need to leave a tangle be, and decide if it's worth keeping, or needs to be pulled out. I've noticed that letting the issue resolve itself tends to lead to many related answers, so it's worth it.

    I also keep several projects going at once, so there is always something else to play with if one project is stumbling.

    For me, passion and connection are key. I love challenging myself, but I need joy, need to be a person my family wants to live with. That's a lot easier if I don't drive myself around the bend trying to force what's not yet ready to be born…and when I wait, I become part of the story, and the writing breathes with its own life…

  12. Hi,

    This is so true. We keep going. I am visiting other websites tonight and yours was one of the ones that I needed to visit. It is very encouraging. Thank you because I needed to read this today.

    Congratulations also on your first book. May it surpass your own expectations in sales.

  13. I'm the same. If a problem is really difficult, I'll leave it alone for a while. Because I've found that if you stare at the problem too closely, it looks much worse than it is.

  14. And Shah, your children have a wonderful gift, being able to live like that.

    I also have multiple projects, although I don't like hopping between them because of problems, because then I'm creating a habit of avoidance. The only exception to this is when I'm waiting to find out what happens next in a story.

  15. I know what you mean. The only time I take a break from a WiP is when it churns to a stop and I just don't have words.

    Otherwise, I try to resolve a problem as soon as I can.

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