Anyone experience this phenomenon? plot planning sucks the joy out of writing?!

It has somehow become so much harder to write...


Don't get me wrong, it's not like I think that my story is boring.


When I first started to write, the words just flowed on to the page. The story was so fresh, and exciting. I couldn't wait to put down the next chapter.


As the story continued to develop in my mind, 'too fast for me to type,' I ended up finishing the basic plot and framework of how I wanted the story to go. And it was awesome! As it came together in my head, I spent all my time thinking about it, because it excited me.


But something happened. Now that I know the plot summary of my story, (in my head), it suddenly became a lot harder to type the actual words unto the page.

It's not writers block or anything... I know exactly what I should be writing about and where the story is headed but... a lot of the initial excitement and motivation have disappeared.


The feeling that I get, is similar to this: sometimes when I'm interested in a movie, or a TV series, I will just read the plot summaries on the internet. And once I know the punchlines, the basic plot; I completely lose interest in watching the actual thing.


Once I finished my story's plot, it became harder to write, because I stopped discovering what was going to happen. I already knew it.


Has anyone else experienced this in their writing?


Yeah, now it's work.


So now you get to find out if you enjoy the actual work, and doing the work. When the initial rosy blush of the virgin story's plot has faded, do you still want to stick it out? Can you look it in the eye every day and say "I still love you, and I'm going to do the work to make this relationship work."?


It's fine if it isn't. Unlike a personal relationship, you can break it off with a story and only break one heart, your own. You're allowed.


But if you're gonna do the work, then it's got to be honest. It's got to be your best, whether you're feeling it or not. Words on the page, as powerful and strong and clear as you can make them. And you still probably won't be paid well for them, nor are you likely to bask in the praise and adulation of others.


The story will, however, be out of your head and on the page. Good or bad, what matters is whether or not the work is done.


To quote myself from a different site:


Ah, I remember when I thought I needed "inspiration" to write. Like it was a game or something. What I wouldn't give to go back in time and punch that particular stupidity out of my younger self. I've come to realize inspiration means nothing. It's all about hard work and discipline, not having fun. It's about dedicating yourself to the task, even when you don't want to.


The real reward for creators come after they've finished. Being able to look back an say "I did this. It wasn't easy, and it will never be perfect, but this exists because of me." That's what makes all the difficult work (almost everything) worth it.


Don't plan beyond a very rough outline. I don't think most web serialists do.


When doing something artistic, you have choices to make about your methods. You can do things the "right" way--what you've been told is the best way to do that particular thing. You can also do things "the way they work for you".


Instead of talking about writing , I'll talk about music as an example for a moment. When learning an instrument, you can use a bunch of exercises that will teach you specific techniques. You can also learn specific pieces of music that you like that will push you to learn those techniques. Exercises are more direct and probably the better choice. The problem with excercises is that they are also soul killing and painfully boring.


The reason is that you're not actually making music at that point.


Playing actual pieces can be fun even if it's not as effective, but it will keep you playing, and if you're playing you'll eventually learn the technique you need. Whereas you'll never learn the technique if you get sick of practicing because all you're doing is exercises.


You can probably see where I'm going here.


I'd argue that for you, creating a plot outline is probably the best choice, but if you find it soul killing and it sucks the joy out of writing, then don't do it. That said, you might want to keep track of major questions somehow, so that you don't leave them unanswered.


Personally I tend to create a very general outline that I occasionally check while writing, but mostly don't think about. I don't enjoy outlining much.


This approach works for me mostly because I'm good at holding important plot points in my head. I'm also willing to change the original story as necessary if things did not happen as I originally envisioned--which keeps things interesting.


That said, as others have mentioned, there's another piece to this too. In all of life you have moments where you're excited about a new thing, and moments where that thing, though still fun is not as inspiring as it once was. At that point, it becomes a question of managing your enthusiasm and motivating yourself.


For me, the twice weekly deadline does a great job of that. You may be motivated by different things.


There's a saying about the percentages between inspirartion and perspiration, and the posters above already touched upon that topic in no uncertain words.


In the beginning I did mostly poetry (starting some 35 years ago and after that on and off for maybe fifteen years). Poetry lends itself better to inspiration.


Still, even in a longer work one of my rewards to self is the moment when I get the luxury to break the hard work with maybe four or five lines of pure inspiration. In my case almost always what's effectively prose poetry, which would mirror my own writing roots. Reader overall reaction to my works vary between boorish, childish, lacks this and that, all the way to very good or even a fantastic story.


For those few lines, though, I almost always receive a wow -reaction. That's reward enough for me, and as an added bonus I get another thirty or forty words closer to the end of the story.


And as some here wrote -- the second best overall reward is to write 'The End'. The best being finish editing all the way to 'The End' :)


Yes. Very much so. In fact, my serial Graves is an exercise intended to help me break my over-plotting tendencies, force myself to live the adventure of the story as I'm writing it, and attempt to rediscover my joy. It's intended to be structured more as an ongoing TV series than as a true novel. So for the series as a whole, I have my basic cast list (open to change) and I have my basic world-building to provide potential conflicts and discoveries. I don't have a decisive plot arc all planned out, but I have some Big Ideas. It's very open-ended, and intentionally so. I know what the first season finale event will be (in general--no details) and I have a basic idea of the flavor of each of the four episodes that make up that season. I plot each episode with a teeny bit more detail before I start it, but I also change that plot on the fly as new ideas come to me. I plot each weekly post of the episodes in a little more detail one week at a time, after I draft the current week's episode. I don't keep a backlog because that would tempt me to keep going back and changing things, because they haven't been officially posted yet, and that's part of my problem that I'm attempting to fix. But letting myself plot a week ahead of the current episode before that is posted allows me to tweak what I just drafted in order to make sure it dovetails properly with the next episode.


That said, I think what you're saying isn't so much that you have written outlines you feel you have to stick to as that you know in your head what will happen--you've spoilered your own story for yourself. I know people who start a book by reading the last page first because they enjoy seeing how the story progresses from point a to point b. I can't do that. Once I know how it ends, it's all over for me--books, TV series, movies, RPGs--I avoid spoilers for anything I may someday want to watch or read or play. I assume you're a kindred soul. ;) For me, my writing process requires me to play some mind games with myself--if part of my brain "knows" how my story ends, after all, then how can I prevent it from spoilering to the part of my brain that needs to not know the ending in order to stay interested? I try to find a balance between the two with a "maybe, let's wait and see" approach--maybe that's how the story ends but MAYBE NOT. You have to mean that in order for it to work, though. You have to be willing to let go of what you KNOW will happen and be willing to let something else happen instead.


If that's not going to work for you, then there's also the enjoyments of the writing process itself, which maybe just requires you to shift your focus from the big picture to the small. I love it when I'm drafting a scene and the "magic" clicks in and the scene writes itself. (Sten's moments of pure inspiration.) I enjoy coming up with just the perfect turn of phrase. I take satisfaction in editing a scene and finding that the flow is way better than it felt when I was slogging through the draft. I LOVE when a character clicks and turns into a real person inside my head. Those are all as much a part of the story and of the writing process as the big plot itself.


I'm not sure I've said anything too different from what other people already have, but since I knew exactly what you meant, I felt I had to chime in. Much luck to you in figuring out how to bring your passion back to your story!


A possible suggestion on motivation... while you know what's (probably) going to happen, perhaps try to approach it from the reader's perspective? While you might not be as interested in doing it for yourself, maybe do it for them - and see (as a new challenge?) whether you can plant subtler hints, or false trails. Or maybe do it for your characters, investigate a subplot a little deeper, separated from the main action. Related to that is the "scene inspiration" elements referred to by others above.


As to the phenomenon itself, I can't say I've experienced it... probably the closest I've come is been more interested in something else, and thus shelved something for a time. But then, I find it REALLY hard to end anything, I'm always seeing loose threads and other elements that I can spin out into the broader canvas, or into sequels. Short stories are the HARDEST thing. I also tend to corner my characters such that I don't KNOW what they'll do, and they won't tend to tell me until I've written up to that point and they're forced to act. That's also the point where my excitement at the story becomes excitement over whether readers will be able to predict that heading. Thus my suggestion above.


Incidentally, damn Jim, that's a great metaphor, and I don't think it applies exclusively to art. Speaking as a mathematics teacher, I wish more people saw MATH that way, not as a bunch of memorization with only one "right" way to do it.


Been there done that. When I was just starting out, I had this problem repeatedly. The fun was in the crafting of the story's skeleton, not the actual writing. Part of it was a lack of discipline to sit down and write, and part of it came down to me outlining too far out. With a standard novel, I think it's easier to encounter this problem because you're releasing a whole rather than a part. You have to know every detail by the nature of the medium. But since this is for web serials, you kind of have an advantage or a different choice. While it's a pretty good idea to have a vague idea of where you're going, an ending in mind, it might behoove you to wing some of it. Not all of it, no. Just a little. Enough that you can be surprised. You also have to swallow the fact that writing is work and not just about creating concepts and plot twists.


Tons of great input. It took me a while to respond, just because I was trying to grasp the gist of what you guys were saying. (I feel like people were saying a bunch of slightly abstract things, I needed some time to dwell on them)


Thanks guys for all the different perspectives, and also useful advice and suggestions. It's very reassuring to know that others have been through exactly what I'm going through.


I'll keep trying to chug along, like what people are advising, sticking it through the rough patches.


Putting aside the abstract ideas, it seems like a lot of people are suggesting, is to kind of be looser with the plotting, and let the details fall together as you write?


Thanks for the concrete advice, interesting suggestions, and writing tips. It really helps me out. I'll be trying some of them out soon. (including playing mind games with my brain, haha!) and (managing my enthusiasm and motivating myself).


Mathans, what you said is very intriguing. (very different than my usual thought process.) I will be giving what you said a lot of thought.


I've experienced this with everything I sit down to write. I usually find plotting the story to be the most fascinating bit of the story, mainly for reasons that you said--you see all the juicy stuff happening--but the writing itself (the first draft) is torture for me. I hate first drafts and am usually not super excited about them (even though I'm super excited for the story in general). For me, it usually stems from the fact that first drafts always suck. There's no such thing as the perfect first draft and anyone who tells you differently is full of shit. But I LOVE revisions. Once that first draft is done and I get to go back is when my excitement peaks up again. Because writing is rewriting. It's almost like a pendulum swing! Peak, a dip into hell, then another peak!


I don't really experience this much. I have basically a framework for how the entire story will go, as well as tons of ideas for side stories and alternative perspectives and other things. However, I am open to changing what happens in individual chapters. Based on deadlines, whether I was thinking too ambitiously and need to simplify things, or thought of better ideas, or purely on a whim, I've changed what the framework chapter looked like when it came time to write the real chapter. I've significantly improved my outline a bunch of times already, and several times things that were kind of foggy in the outline made sense after a sudden brainstorm, and things that turned out rotten got cut.


I'm always thinking of my story and always looking at it from different angles, so every time I write, it's fresh and changing. I'm constantly critiquing my outline and whether the things I have plotted are things I can actually do or want to do or that would be interesting to read. Whenever I sit down to write, that outline is fair game for slashing. It's important, in my opinion, to get your stuff down for the future so the important stuff can remain relatively consistent. But it's also important to realize you didn't get your best or your only ideas 8 months or 2 years etc ago.


So maybe, make it fresh again. Look at places where you can do something new.


This is maybe a bit dusty, but...

Well, I got the exact opposite of a problem. I only have the most blurry vision of where the plot is going...and writing with just a basic outline of 'Well...okay, I need to discuss this. And this character should star in it. Maybe the ending could be...or something completely differen' I loose my stride. I stumble, keep second guessing every other sentence and try to think

Slows me down quite a bit and I don't enjoy it very much. Especially since these little errors sneak in. This vagueness that I might have accidentally used that name before or this and now got "one" character that is bordlerline schizophrenic and inconsistent. Or that there's no red line to follow.


So...well, I dont want to go to extremes either way, so I will obviously not plot out every minute detail. Wyatts approach seems reasonable though. :) Plot the important things and have the important plot points in mind. Change when necessary, keep when possible.

That's what i'm going to try for november anyway.


Plot every tiny thing out. Do it. Plot so incredibly hard that you don't even need to do the writing part afterward. You can just publish your plotting, because it's just THAT accurate to how you want the real text to be.


It's the perfect plan, see? No writing necessary. I've cracked the code, guys. Now we can all just relax and stop working so hard.


I typically plan the beginning, the climax, and the end with some rough ideas as to what happens in between, then I let the story go where it chooses to. Not the only way to do it, but it works well for me.


I almost always change the end of an Antlers, CO chapter before I reach it. Mostly it's because I work off of a rough outline that's basically a bullet point list of what plot beats each update has to hit, and who needs to be where by the end of each update, but subplots and things tend to sneak themselves in as I write. It's nice, though - I find that I'm always surprising myself while writing chapters by pulling out things that I may not have thought about while writing the outline. And the story still progresses, because the important plot beats stay in, one way or another.


I don't outline. I've found that when I make a physical outline of a story, then I don't write it. Something in my brain decides that the story is over and I just can't write it. If I keep everything in my head, I still write and finish it. What I have to do is write down the basic idea, write notes on the characters, and keep in mind the ending and the major points that get the characters there. I also don't outline and plot every detail because if a character does something I didn't plan, it makes me mad. It's best for my sanity not to do so.