A New Term: Writer’s Weariness

Posted: December 31, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
English: Hands collaborating in co-writing or ...

Revising is Monotonous at Times

I’m tired of revising!

E.B. Shrunk, author of “The Element’s of Style,” said: “The best writing is rewriting.”

If this is true, my current novel is some of the best writing I’ve done. I am starting to understand what some authors mean when they say they are tired of this book or that character. After a while the story seems lost, replaced by vignettes with your characters acting out a scene in his or her life, the plot to them, still unknown, and to the author feeling mixed up going backward and forward in time.

How can this story, which seemed so full of life and creativity in the first draft, now feel like its characters are mired in mud and muck, never to see the best seller list?

I’ve heard of writer’s block–which doesn’t really exist– but this feeling of Writer’s Weariness needs a place on the shelf of clichés, for it is real. It is what happens when the author spends too much time revising and not enough time creating. One tried solution is to put it away for a while (two or three months) and attack it refreshed.

But this doesn’t work when you are on a deadline, even if it is self-imposed, to finish it and send it into the hands of an enthusiastic agent, if one can be found. For me, Writer’s Weariness occurs when I am too focused on revisions and not working on something fresh.

Two months ago I took time to write a 12,000 word short story, featuring my heroine, Billie Bly. It was fresh and good and the three revisions only took a few weeks. My critique group reviewed it enthusiastically and gave some much appreciated suggestions, which I embraced, revised, and sent it off to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine with the group’s blessing.


Creativity Spawns Enthusiasm

That was two months ago. Since, I’ve outlined another short story, but not written a sentence. I also outlined a new book, which I have high hopes for. I was so excited I wrote the first chapter and then put it away to slog over my current novel’s revisions.

My original plan was to spend a two days each week revising, two days working on short stories, and two days writing my new novel. After I finished the short story, I discarded my plan in order to finish my damn book. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Having written this, I am bound to return to my original goal of writing six days a week, two revising, two on my new novel, and two on a short story.

You see, what also happened when I worked on revisions only is my enthusiasm for writing waned, and I was barely revising two days a week. I also took two weeks off entirely using the holidays as a rationale.

I may not write on my prescribed schedule 100 percent. I may miss a day writing here or spend an extra day revising there, but I am sure my enthusiasm will return and I will write more than two days a week.

The cure for Writer’s Weariness, then, must be variety. Do the hard work of rewriting, but give your brain something fun to work on too.

  1. Helen Wand says:

    Great essay and I have to say, I can relate. I am revising my story as well. I do better if I let it get “cold” for a few days and then get back at it. I appreciate your insight. Thank you for sharing.

  2. […] A New Term: Writer’s Weariness (donweston.wordpress.com) […]

  3. Sher Davidson says:

    Hi Don,
    I think you hit the nail on the head: if you’re only revising, writing will get pretty wearisom. It’s that rush of creativity that keeps it fun. So stick to your plan of variety: revising a little, writing something new each week, even it’s just a short piece. Listen to the “urges”—they come from your deepest, truest place. Here’s a nice quote another writer sent me:

    As for my next book, I am going to hold myself
    from writing it till I have it impending in me:
    grown heavy in my mind like a ripe pear;
    pendant, gravid, asking to be cut or it will fall.
    ~Virginia Woolf

  4. Well said and the phrase should go into our writer’s lexicon. Agents are an anachronism.

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