Stories can come in many different mediums, from novels to comics and everything in between. But all of us writers go through periods where we question our motivation to write, and end up giving up on our stories. There can be many reasons why, but it commonly comes down to the story itself and how we handle it. As some of you know, my current story Thunder has been in development since I was 9 years old and been dear to my heart for 8 years now. It’s gone through a lot of eras, a lot of doubt, and a lot of configuring on what I wanted the story to be. While I don’t know how to solve all writing block dilemmas, I do have an idea how to stand by your story and keep with it despite the odds. It all comes down to writing a story you love.
But, how exactly do you do that?
First, what makes you invested in a story?
Recall a book, comic, movie, etc, that you really enjoyed. What made you like that movie; the characters, plot elements, world building? Was it the action? Lighthearted humor in dangerous situations? Dragons? Now think of things you love in general. Bright neon colors? Owls? Bad puns? Put all those things, big and small, into your mental mixing bowl and see how you can make a story out of it. It may be cliche, extremely weird, or something in between. But the key consistency is a story you would want to read. A bunch of things you love all in one story, something you’d scream about to your friends on how much you adore this thing. Write that.
Write characters you like.
If you’re in for the long haul, it’s key to have characters you actually enjoy writing. Don’t get too caught up making them purely original, just characters you love to write one way or another.
For example, my character Zerako, he’s your typical hotheaded guy that eats a lot, likes fighting, not bright, and is very loud. Bonus: cares about this friends and has red hair. Fits your standard fire-type stereotypes.
That type of character (from all I’ve read at least) is pretty easy to find in media and there’s a lot of instances where I’ll read something and be like “Haha wow this character reminds me of Zerako.”
And while I like to think he still has his original qualities, I’m not gonna stress trying to erase his cliche traits when I already adore him the way he is- what can I say, I love those kinds of characters! He’s my precious fire bean and I’m all for our writing journey ahead.
Don’t be afraid to scrap and restart.
I’ve had to do this a few times myself, and it’s no doubt painful and daunting at first. You’ve come so far, but you’ve just been adding and adding and nothing quite makes sense anymore. Or no matter what you do, stuff just feels off, wrong, and you can’t put your finger on it. If you want to stick with your story, don’t let fear of failure and starting over stop you from doing what’s right for you story, and for you.
Think of it like a canvas. Take off that old painting that’s a artistic massacre and set it down. Put a new, clean canvas up. Now you have complete freedom to put on that canvas whatever you what. Liked some stuff from the old painting? What to do something new? You can do that, in fact, you can do whatever you gosh darn want. If we go back to our baking metaphor, it's like taking the ingredients/techniques you like while trying out new methods to make your cake bake. Its one of the most creatively liberating things, and your story will grow to be even better then it was before.
Write for yourself and lose the public.
While I wouldn’t advise completely shunning the public opinion, as some of your readers will have good advice and things to say, be careful not to give them the power to dictate what your story should be. What one person thinks makes a good story may not be what you think, or others for that matter. Remember earlier on finding what you love in a story and mashing that together? Yeah, stick to that. Because that’ll give you a foundation to stand on on what your story is and isn’t. If someone’s advice/suggestion actually works and you like it in your story, then by all means use it! But if not, then you’re under no obligation to do so.
I was in the mindset for a while that if someone praised a writer for writing a certain thing in their stories, I had to do the same in order to be viewed as good. And this gave me extremely mixed feelings, and started sucking away my motivation to write because some of those things were stuff I really didn’t want to write and would take the charm away. It wasn’t my world anymore, it was becoming someone else’s fantasy. I had to remind myself I cannot be writing just to be popular or liked; I will never please everyone, and I certainly will not please myself. If I write something that I love, someone else that likes that thing too will come around and enjoy it with me.
Only you can tell your story the way you want to, and it’s gotta be what you want it to be, something that you love, or else you’ll never be able to write it through without dreading every moment. Sure, you may not do it justice. It may not turn out exactly how you wanted it. But its still something you care about. Joy is a powerful tool and motivator, not just in art, but writing too. Never forget why you started writing in the first place. Your love for what you do will show through your work. Now go mix up your favorite ingredients and make the story you want to read ! :D
~Katharine (All art drawn by me)