I have about 20 half-finish novels sitting on my computer, in my filing cabinet, or under my bed. The story with each is the same - I start out with a full head of steam and great ideas, but about midway through I get bored. I've told the story about a million times in my head, but it moves faster up there than I can write or type (admittedly, I can type pretty fast, too). By the time a story's been through its thousandth re-telling, I get tired of listening to the characters and jotting down notes about their lives.

I get bored with the story, shelve it, and move on to something else.

The problem with this trend is that it's disillusioned me to writing anything new. I'll carve time out of my day for writing, but I just can seem to get started. A voice in my head mocks me, reminding me "it will just end up like last time, forgotten in some envelope under the bed." So I give up, let a story mold and rot in my head, and go for a run instead.

So, what is the best way to keep myself interested in my own story while my fingers struggle to catch up to my brain? What's the best way to prevent boredom from killing a novel-in progress? How can I preempt this negative creative trend before it evolves into perpetual writer's block?

  • 5
    Maybe you don't stave off boredom. Maybe you push through. You finish it. Or maybe you should ask yourself why you are bothering to write these novels. Do you dream of publication? (If so, just do it.) Maybe short stories are your true calling. Either you just buckle down and do it, or you move on to something else. Commented May 25, 2011 at 0:32

6 Answers 6


Some possibilities:

  • Start to write before you've told the story in your head a million times, and perhaps even before you've told it once. Begin writing the story before you know what happens. Begin writing each scene before you know how the scene turns out.
  • When you start to become bored, ask yourself, "What else might happen here?" Find a twist you hadn't thought of, and write that.
  • Keep multiple writing projects in progress. When you get bored on one, switch to another.
  • For a while, write shorter stories that you can finish before boredom overwhelms you.
  • Though you've told the story a million times, you haven't yet seen a single reader react to it. So join a local writing group.
  • 5
    It might be a process thing, but writing before I know what's going to happen rarely ends well for me. The story just rambles on randomly. I need a plot which is thoroughly researched, structured, betaed, and troubleshot before starting. I may do the structure in a rolling fashion, where later chapters have only notes until I get closer to them, but I couldn't just dive in and see where the story takes me. Commented May 24, 2011 at 18:04
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    @Lauren, I'm exactly the same way as you. However, I've known writers who swear that they can't write a story if they do know what's going to happen. For them, the entire process of writing is a matter of discovering the characters and the plot, and if you already know the characters and the plot, then what's the point of writing the story? Commented May 24, 2011 at 20:21
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    I am so totally different. I might get the last line, of the story and the characters and then have to backtrack through it all to get to a story.
    – Stephan F-
    Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 4:08

I can totally relate to this. I have five published novels, NOW, but it took me years to get around to writing the first one. I went through the same thing you did. I thought I wanted to write, but it turned out that I mostly wanted to have written.

For me, the solution lay in getting immediate feedback on my writing. I think the writer's group idea is solid, but unless you find one that meets a LOT, it might not be quick enough for you. You need to find an audience that will read quickly and appreciatively.

It depends on what genre you want to write in, I suppose, but you might want to consider fan fiction. Not as an ultimate destination, just as a way to get yourself over the first hump. Find a fandom you're interested in, write something, post it, get some feedback, write something else, and then something else, and then invite a few fandom friends to read your original novel in progress. Post regularly - once a week? a couple times a week? every day? and use the feedback as the incentive to keep writing.

You could try to do the same thing without the fandom element, but I think it's really hard to get an audience for original work by an unknown author. The beauty of fandom is the built-in audience!


Buy a tape recorder, or Dragon Dictation (for PC, Mac, or iGadget). If your fingers are too slow, start telling your stories out loud. Let the computer do the typing. Talk until you don't want to talk anymore, and then review. If you get bored with one, start a new file or tape and work on another story.


I am experiencing unpleasant feelings when - e. g. - writing documentation or a business text. But it is not the boredom, rather hopelessness.

When discovering a story, I notice one important part of it, first. Stage set, situation, attitude of an character. It takes from seconds to weeks, to see the contours of whole story. During this time, I am not writing. Then, I am starting to run for I need to have the raw story finished before something pulls me away. Like the Blitzkrieg tactics: when hit a resistance (cannot find the right word or sentence) just bypass it and keep running at any cost. When the raw story is finished, it can be put aside, even for months. It will not decompose nor decay.

So ask yourself:

  1. How are you finding your stories and plots? What inspires you?
  2. Why do you need to write them down?
  3. Do your stories really deserve to be written down? Do you believe in them enough?
  4. What have the moments you first realise the boredom in common?

If all your stories started at chapter one and ended in the middle, then try writing the last chapter first. Then the chapter before the last. You also can jump to the first chapter in between. From last to first or jumping between end and beginning, but not your normal order. Afraid of a incoherent story? So what, keep writing. Till now you haven't a story at all.

Learn to write faster or give Lauren's tape recorder a chance.

Silence your censor. That's this ugly voice mocking you. Imagine a virtual gun and shoot him in the head. Yell at him, he shall shut up. Write pages after pages "Shut the fck up, shut the fck up, shut the f*ck up (with an "u" instead of the star). Kick him, curse him, whatever.

If you still have trouble silencing him, there is a hardcore way to do it. Take the stuff under your bed and burn it. That will either give him an opportunity to mock you more ("burn this shit like the other ones") or it'll have a healthy "Phoenix out of the ashes" effect. That's up to you.

Good luck.


Late comer to the party but... how about swapping stories?

I usually have two or three ideas for stories - often completely different genres and all. One month, I can be totally obsessed over one of them and then the inspiration just disappears. When that happens, I turn to another story. The inspiration can then hold on for one or six months before I need to swap to a different story.

The break between the novels also helps me to get some distance from story and characters. That makes it easier, once I come back, to spot scenes and chapters that need improving (or throwing away) as well as to see the characters in new, refreshing and inspiring ways.

Added bonus: no story is abandoned. It's just waiting in the backburner.

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