L is for Losing Steam



It was actually to be expected. The first week of the A-Z Challenge there’s always a flurry of comments everywhere. Everyone is excited, enthused, energetic, full of good intentions to get around to as many blogs as they possibly can. Then the second week hits and the wear and tear of posting every day combined with the insurmountable task of visiting all of these participating blogs starts to drain the zeal, and comments fall off. Monday will be the Challenge mid-way point and if the pattern holds true, the trend of evaporating comments will continue through the next couple weeks.

I’ve also heard a few writers talk about how they’ve sometimes lost steam in the middle of writing a manuscript and ended up abandoning it for a new “shiny idea”. This is a foreign concept to me and I have difficulty wrapping my head around it. I’ve written three books and I’ve maintained the same level of intensity towards each all the way through. I outline heavily before I begin a book (yes…I’m a plotter), so maybe that’s why I never experience this problem, but is it really a plotter versus pantser issue? What do you think?

Something that I have started doing is giving up on books I’m reading before I reached the conclusion, and that only started after I began writing again. I’ve found I have less patience for shoddy writing and key plot twists that are totally unbelievable – and you know why – because I have a greater appreciation for the effort it takes write a cohesive story and it rubs me raw when I come across lazy plotting or easy contrivances.

Any other examples of losing steam you can think of?

Did you realize that I’m holding a contest during the Challenge? No? You can read all about it HERE.

70 comments

  1. I don't really lose steam when I'm writing either. If anything, I tend to be obsessive about it until I think it's done.

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    1. I've been known to do that too, Kellie. Sometimes when you get a good story idea, you hate to stop. It's almost as though the idea could fly away somewhere so you have to get it firmly on paper before it disappears.
      But I think that some people can lose motivation on things from time to time. Dieting for instance. It's so hard to be enthusiastic if you're not seeing the results you want.

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  2. I am dertermined to finish the challenge, the thought of giving up steam have never entered my head.

    Yvonne.

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  3. Yeah, I'm exhausted keeping up with the commenters and blogs. But, I'm having fun. I've met many new bloggers.

    Like you, I'm a plotter so I don't usually lose steam in my novels, but exhaustion makes it harder to write.

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  4. I am a chronic losing steam kind of girl but I am determined to keep that steam flowing for this challenge. Still having fun.

    Came by from Tales of the Reborn Crafter

    http://talesofthereborncrafter.blogspot.com/

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  5. I finish fewer books now too. Now that I know so much about writing I'm less likely to put up with poor writing. I appreciate that they took the time to write and put a book out there but there are so many books and if I just don't care about the plot or characters why force myself to read it?

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  6. Yes, I have way too many books to read for my blog to read books that don't draw me in. I just got to the middle of one that is good but I'm just not that excited about so I stopped reading it.

    And yes, it's hard to keep reading all the A-Z challenge posts. I'm just trying to come a few times a week, especially to my followers to support them. But I have other non-participating blogs I follow and need to get other things done.

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  7. Hmmmm, good question. I'm a "PLONTSER" (HA! So, in between). For me, it sometimes happens because I want to write all the exciting or juicy scenes first. I want to jump ahead. Or sometimes I get to the middle and think, "maybe this book just sucks, should I take it in a different direction?"

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  8. Once cold weather comes, I start losing steam with exercising. There's not much as motivation in the winter months when I know the I'll mostly be wearing big sweatshirts and sweatpants and stuffing my face with Christmas candy and cookies! So I usually take a break for a couple weeks and then my workouts feel good again. The same goes for writing. Whenever I lose steam, I take a break from that project. I work on something else, or I write for fun for a few days, such as writing prompts or poetry. After a break, the motivation comes back!

    Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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  9. Oh, I think people are distracted. If a story isn't going well, or becomes difficult at some point, it's very easy to begin on something new because that instant gratification isn't there anymore. I'm not a plotter. Yet I pace myself enough, and I know the reward of pushing through is worth it.

    Keep it up!

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  10. I don't understand losing steam on a manuscript either. I don't begin unless I intend to finish.
    Things have slowed down a little, but the comments are still full blast on my blog. I need more clones...

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  11. Its like being on a diet. You're all enthusiastic and keen to begin and when you see the first few kilos drop off you're inspired to carry on, a few weeks in and everything seems to taste the same, the weight is stabilizing and you loose steam. The key, of course, is to push on and continue doing what you're doing. Consistency wins in the end. Think of the end goal - always - and suck it up and take one day at a time. Soon you'll be further than you thought and still going strong.

    Hang in there everyone.

    All the best with the second half of the challenge.

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  12. I haven't lost steam when I'm writing yet, but the editing process is a whole 'nother story.

    I do have to admit that last year doing the A to Z completely wore me out. I am having so much more fun this year by not participating, but following along with some of my favorite people. I recognize that I am a sprinter.

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  13. Good 'L' thought and post. The best laid plans of mice and men comes to mind, life intervenes, s*#t happens, priories take precedence. I see the numbers are indeed dropping. Kudos to those who don't miss a letter or who trudge along despite missing a few letters. It's a challenge, for sure, but a fun one.
    Kathy at Oak Lawn Images

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  14. Fellow plotter here.
    I try not to start a book unless I know the ending (and it better be exciting as crap). But I do dream of the next as I begin editing the current one. I think those who finish a project vs. those who can't before jumping to the next are simply more likely to be successful. Not trying to soapbox here, but in my life, I'm a chronic not-finisher. And that quality has never done a thing for me.
    As far as quitting reading a book partway through, I'm all for it. Your parents weren't lying when they said, "You are who you hang around." If you hang around poor writing, then expect the same from your own books. I'll drop it like it's hot.
    If this Challenge has shown me anything so far, it's that I have time EVERYDAY I could be writing! I ain't quittin yet!

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  15. You've written three books and you've never once lost steam in the middle section? The middle section is the hardest for me, and I'm a plotter too. I mean, not a crazy, plan out ev.er.y.thing. kind of plotter, but enough to know where it's going. The middle still gets me down because I can see how much longer I have to go. Ugh.

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  16. I don't write in order, but I hit the slump every book too. It's not necessarily the middle of the book, but the middle of the process. I get that feeling that everything is craptastic and I need to chuck the thing. I've written enough stories now to know that feeling passes and I need to just trudge through it, but it's still hits. Losing steam is exactly how I'd put it.

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  17. I do lose steam reading, but I make myself finish the book, and often, once I get past the uninspiring part, I gain momentum and realize that the uphill struggle was worth the effort. I am still writing that great American novel, and without my outline I would be struggling.

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  18. I am very determined to always finish a challenge I start. I do relate to the exhausting work of visiting as many blogs and the write. When I first started blogging I was much more faithful and was looking for every challenge and visiting everyone on all of them. Plus doing all my writing that I wanted to do. It was extremely over whelming. I now do it much differently and dont feel as over whelmed so Im not losing my steam. I just had to find that balance for me. Thank you for stopping in and leaving a comment. I do look forward to the comments. I miss not seeing those. Have a super blessed weekend.
    Beth

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  19. I give up on a lot of stories, too. I know it's for the reason you've given, but I also think when I read on a Kindle, I'm less committed to the story. I'm just guessing that's part of the cause, but there is a difference for me between a book in hand and a Kindle in hand. Do you read on electronic devices? I think I have do some research. Oh no! Not more research.

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  20. As exhausting as the challenge is, I have NO intention of giving up! I'm having a blast with my posts and the comments have been hilarious too, so that keeps me going....
    Must admit that I've fallen behind with blog visits... and will try my best to get round to more people...

    Writer In Transit

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  21. Hi, DL,

    I made it back! See...

    I am like an old dog with his favorite bone. I never give up or lose steam until the task is complete... That's why I am FOREVER in revisions to make my novels as PERFECT as possible.

    Like you, I have little patience for bad writing. These days I never really enjoy a book because I am always critiquing as I go along.

    Have a great weekend....

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  22. Fortunately I have all my posts pre-written and pre-scheduled. I learned the hard way that this is the way to go for me. And I'm not surprised folks are losing steam, especially if they're trying to write their posts and visit. I'm having a hard time keeping up with my regular peeps nevermind visiting new ones. But I am still trying to do what Arlee suggested, just visit five new blogs each day. Yes, even that is hard but you know what? I've found some cool new peeps to follow! As for giving up on stories, I do have a number of unfinished tales but usually once I get to a certain point - 20k seems to be the magic number - I will keep on until it's finished.

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  23. What a surprise...very few have admitted to being a 'Panster' which I take to be 'By The Seat of Your Pants'. That'd be me...not that I don't Plot and Plan...I do...in my head. Course I have to jot it down...hmmmm I am an Outliner if you count all the 'Sticky Notes' lined up around my PC. For the key to keeping up a good head of steam is to keep it short. That's why I'm not a NOVEL writer. BTW...thanks for the word 'Panster'.

    My Letter 'L'..The Leatherwood Lace Collar
    Sue CollectInTexasGal
    AtoZ LoneStar Quilting Bee

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  24. This is definitely where we separate the sprinters from the distance runners. A sprinter jumps in and runs until their energy expires. A distance runner gauges what is expected for the long haul and formulates how much energy to expend consistently in order to reach a goal. I tend to be the latter--which is good and bad, because there are some races I forgo completely just because I'm not able or willing to maintain the effort required. I watched this A-Z challenge 3 years before deciding I could give it a shot--because I realized what it would realistically take to participate--and I rarely quit once I've started something.

    But on the writing thing--I think you're completely right. I'm a panster gone plotter, and having a strong plot ready to go is the way to overcome in-the-middle syndrome.

    Like you, my incredulity for some writers or books has trumped my ability to muddle through a poorly fashioned tale. I'll typically read any first book in a series, but it's only 50% to 1 in 3 that I'll continue. Time is precious, eh?

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  25. I don't seem to loose steam when I'm writing. I get stuck now and again but I don't think that's the same thing. As soon as I get the problem solved I'm back at it. I'm with you when it comes to loosing steam while reading. My reading time is so limited. I don't want to waste it on something that is poorly written.Simply Sarah

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  26. I sometimes lose steam with my work in progress. When that happens, I usually stop writing and switch to art or some other thing that I like to do for a few months. When I revisit the old manuscript later, I'm full of fresh ideas.

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  27. I've also stopped reading books in the middle because of shoddy writing lately! I think you've hit the nail on the head--it is because I appreciate good writing as a writer myself.

    Allison (Geek Banter)

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  28. I don't finish a book I'm not enjoying. Too many good ones to enjoy. Not losing steam with the A to Z but I am desperately trying to keep up.

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  29. I don't lose steam during the writing, but I do lose steam on the editing. And with books, if the first chapter doesn't hook me, I quit reading.

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  30. I'm definitely a plotter...and just finished MS #9. I don't lose steam, but sometimes I feel like my prose is a bit flat. I use tools like The Emotion Thesaurus and Deep Point of View to ratchet the tension up...you know what they say...Make It Worse!

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  31. I've become much quicker to drop a book (as a reader) if it doesn't grab me right away. It feels like I have less time to read, now that I'm a writer, and my time is more of a precious commodity. Of course, it's also impossible to immerse myself in a book and not notice the editing anymore. :)
    Writing - I don't lose steam during the book but shiny new ideas will grab me away from writing a sequel.

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  32. Bummer that everyone is losing steam on commenting and posting for A-Z...I'm actually having loads of fun and still am enjoying hopping around visiting and reading everyone's posts. I really wished I had more time :) On the manuscript side...I just hit a wall at midpoint of my current WIP and had this huge urge to toss it out. But I think it all has to do with plotting...I sat down and replotted it out and realized where it was lacking...and now I am back on track. So I have to agree with you that plotting helps focus the story. And yes, I will put a "bad" book down. Time is so precious...I can't spare enough of it to read something I am not enjoying.

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  33. I couldn't imagine not finishing a story I started either. I want to see what happens at the end! I might procrastinate a bit in the middle, but I always finish.

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  34. Yes, losing steam during the challenge has already happened. But I just skip a day and pick up the next. Hey, it happens.

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  35. If I lose steam while writing, it means I need to take a break or... it means the story isn't worth continuing. My job is to find out which it is.

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  36. I think it is a plotter vs pantser thing actually, in that the pantser hits a point where they get stuck and don't know what needs to happen next, so the shiny idea is easier to deal with and more and more attractive as time goes by. I see people talking about that kind of thing all the time. When people know where their stories are going, they tend to be more focused on getting to the end.

    I was laughing to myself a couple of days ago about the drop off in comments, etc.

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  37. This year, I am trying to pace myself. I didn't go full throttle at the beginning with commenting and am just picking up steam now. :-) It kind of sounds like love...all the excitement at first and then you realize it takes some work. Lol!! Have a great weekend!

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  38. I've got M-R posts ready to publish, with the exception of Q. I am going to do a linkback to you on my "O" post re the one free pass "J" post of yours.

    Some books I have just had to stop reading - I couldn't slog through any more of it.

    Am enjoying the challenge ~

    thriftshopcommando.blogspot.com

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  39. I used to abandon stories, but I think that was an indication that I wasn't truly invested in the idea in the first place, and also that I didn't know enough about the writing process. Once the right idea clicked, I could't shake it and fortunately by that time I'd learned much more about the craft of writing. I'm an outliner too, and I definitely think that helps. Sure, I sometimes deviate from the outline when creativity takes over, but it helps keep my goals in sight.

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  40. Sorry about the comment drop-off. You still get way more comments than I do. :) Maybe I should have joined this challenge...

    Ah yes, the middle of the book slump is not so hard to understand. I had two false starts on YA novels before I finally found what I hope is my niche and wrote two middle grade novels almost without stopping. I say almost because I tend to hit a wall in the middle. I'm NOT a plotter. So what I do is skip to the end and write the last couple of chapters (knowing they'll eventually change). Yes, I know it's strange. But it doesn't bother me. It's my rough. No one's gonna see it! If I have to write it out of order, so be it.

    Interestingly, I've also recently started to abandon books I'm reading if the first three or four chapters don't pull me in. Sad but true. At least you know you're not the only one!

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  41. I'm onboard with the Blitz! I lost steam going through what I did with Google continuing to shut me down. But my new blog is up and running and I'm gaining steam and momentum once again!

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  42. Yeah, definitely losing steam on this challenge. And I lose steam when writing as well. I do not know how to maintain a good storyline for long; hence I do a lot of short pieces. But I'm still hanging in on the challenge.

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  43. I had most of my posts written before April 1st so I'm in a better position to read, comment and try to meet more bloggers. But I'm 100% with you about reading books. I have no time or patience for a book I'm not enjoying, even if it is well-written.

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  44. I've put down a lot of books halfway. If I'm not interested, why waste my time?

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

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  45. I've thrown a lot of books across the room because of author intrusion. As far as the blog hop goes...we all hits slumps because we expend so much energy into the first half. With a challenge like this all the gung-ho dies down with the first flush of activity. The key is to pace yourself in all things, storing fuel to continue to the end.

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  46. 1. Yes, losing steam a little, but still doing what I can to visit all the blogs!! I had figured out I needed to visit 66 a day, but I'm already totally behind. It's okay, at least I'm trying!

    2. I am not really the type to just abandon a story. I do have stories that are unfinished, but I fully intend to finish them off someday. ;) I have been known to stop revisions that are giving me trouble in favour of writing something new for a WriMo month. And also if I ever find myself stuck with a story, it's usually 'cause I've just written something fairly crap.

    3. I haven't yet got to the 'abandon a book you haven't finished' stage yet, but I probably will someday. There are too many books out there & too little time. Why should we subject ourselves to bad reads? Still, I feel the need to finish...even if it's probably in the author's best interest that I don't, so I can't write a proper review.

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  47. I'm going the other way this year. I didn't start out very strong in reading new blogs. Just too bogged down with the writing, life, and reading the blogs I already follow. But, in the last week, I've connected with a few new bloggers that are really great. Now, I'm more energized to keep going and connecting.

    Play off the Page

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  48. I definitely started off strong reading and commenting on other blogs because the challenge began during my spring break, so I had more time. Now that we've started back to school, I'm finding it a bit more challenging to spend time reading and commenting. I'm thankful for 2 things: 1) I wrote most of my challenge posts over spring break and just had to schedule them. 2) I can spend Sundays reading and commenting.

    TaMara
    Tales of a Pee Dee Mama

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  49. I've gotten like that too. I think after editing and re-editing my work it makes other's "mistakes" like nails on a chalkboard.

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  50. Once I start writing a book, I am compelled to finish it. It haunts me till I type the words "the end". I have never been able to finish a book that I did not like, or that I find difficult to get into, so there are a lot of books on my shelf that I have not read until the end. However, I do tend to run out of steam whenever I have to edit or revise my work. The editing part is so much harder for me. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and following. It is very much appreciated.

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  51. I see another great example of losing steam at the gym. Right after New Year's, attendance is way up and it's harder to get to the equipment you want and into the classes you normally could slip into with no problem. Come April, it starts to clear out again.

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  52. why hello DL , Every week I try to learn more about what I'm blogging about and I am not losing any steam as everything is chugging along right on schedule . There is still more work to be done though.

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  53. I remember from last year starting to feel like I'm losing steam by mid-month. I've been keeping up with comments, though, trying to visit several new blogs a day and revisit some of my favourites, and always, ALWAYS visiting the people who've commented on my blog--when they make it possible to do so.

    As for books, I'm with you. It used to be a point of pride to finish every book I started, but I gave that one up a few year's ago. Life's too short to read mediocre writing--or even wonderful writing if it's not hitting the spot.

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  54. I thrive on a challenge. The more I write, the more motivated I feel, as I can see progress. It's a bit like running. No danger of not finishing the challenge unless I hit an unforeseen problem!

    Thanks for checking in on my blog!

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  55. I am guilty of losing steam, both with posting and commenting. Last year I was more prepared, but this year, I have been working ten hour days and am extremely involved in my kids leap testing, among other work, home and family obligations that have drained me of all extra time and energy. I don't lose steam while writing, I sometimes take a short break out of necessity and when I return I find, I am reenergized. So you're a plotter, huh? I'm a reformed panster, who has learned that plotting helps my structure without cramping my creativity. Yes, I am also guilty of not reading books all the way to the end. This started when I began writing, seriously. Like you said, I have a greater appreciation for writers and I also value my time more. I just don't have time to finish a poorly written novel, just because I bought it. I am much more discriminate.

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  56. Have to admit, I lost steam just at the memory of doing A-Z, so bowed out this year. I don't lose steam on my stories but around about the ninth rewrite I start getting over it.

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  57. I've discovered it's better to lose steam with the A to Z than to lose one's internet. :)

    When writing, it's easy to lose steam if one is writing for someone else. I speak from experience. I'm tenacious (you know, that grit thing?) so I finish every project. But if I'm not writing or rewriting for me, it takes much, much longer.

    ~VR Barkowski

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  58. I know what you're saying. This is my first time, I got talked into trying this challenge and it has been tougher than I thought. Publishing the posts, replying to comments and commenting is breaking me down but I'm trying my best to keep up. I'm having a lot of fun and I've met some incredibly creative people. I'm learning a lot too, especially about commenting. Thanks for checking in, it's been great so far.

    Still trying to figure out what to do for the letter X,
    Dan Miller

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  59. This is an issue I have but I recently realized it is not with one specific thing. My attention just disperses or I want to do so many things at the same time that I end up putting a few in hold. It's not like I intend to abandon them, but yes, there might be a hiatus for certain projects. Additionally, health is an issue that sometimes doesn't help me one bit in keeping a constant pace.

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  60. Funny cuz I mentioned today I'm losing steam in A-Z. With so much going on it's a struggle to post daily sometimes, and when I'm not able to get to my laptop, my blog visits goes way down. DOesn't help that I'm in the middle of drafting a new story, which I'm feeling passionate about, and i don't wanna lose steam for that either. Just happen to hit the same time as A-Z.

    But since I started writing, I don't finish books either that dont captivate me fully. I cant. No time at all for that.

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  61. I suppose it's like NaNo - there's always something that comes along and breaks the momentum... I had a huge meeting and lots of overtime at work last week, so fell far behind in everything else...

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  62. I lose steam trying to finish projects I started in my old job. In fact, I'm finding it nearly impossible! I'd rather write all day!

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: kristenhead.blogspot.com

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  63. I've been experiencing a drop in comments as well, but I've also not been commenting like a should to receive comments.

    About the only books I start and don't finish are non-fiction books that are super boring or not telling me anything I don't already known. I'm kind of obsessive about reading fiction, bad or not, I want to see how the story ends. I need to get that way about my own writing. Maybe I need to outline better.

    Lee
    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

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  64. Yep. My comments are down too. I'm trying to keep up with everyone though so they see us still posting.

    Heather

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  65. I don't know that it's so much of a plotter vs panster issue, because even if you are a pantser, you can still have a cohesive plot (provided you are or have a good editor). I'm the same way about a book when I can't identify with the characters at all.

    Another example of running out of steam for me involves my full time job. I work crisis intervention, so I start off my 12.5 hour day with loads of energy, enthusiasm, and big smiles but from time to time that energy ekes away during the shift until I'm flat and blah.

    Lyre @ Lyre's Musings

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  66. Thanks for sharing this interesting and educative information. I think many writers will find your contribution very helpful, I have equally learnt something from it.
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  67. Hi Don .. that's life isn't it - I went away for five days .. sort of kept in touch ... but now I'm seriously catching up (or trying to!) ..

    Cheers Hilary

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  68. I havent' gotten to that point yet of not finishing a book once I've started. I do however read fewer books because I'm not willing to take the time to read something that doesn't come recommended.

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  69. I don't have a lot of experience writing for publication, but I have written A LOT of research papers. I am always really excited at the beginning because I am bubbling with ideas and I get really excited when I come across some fantastic piece of research that supports those ideas. Then around page 9 of 12 or 14 I start to lose steam. My bubbling brilliance slows to a meager trickle - spit bubbles, in fact, and I struggle to bang out the final few pages.

    B from http://brandysbustlings.blogspot.ca/

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