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Losing the plot

Not only has my blogging been extremely sporadic of late, but so has my writing in general. The reason? I have completely lost the plot. Obviously I don’t mean in the literal sense (that would just be weird), but I have lost my direction and am questioning what I had begun. Has this happened to you?

Losing the plotThe loss of direction has come from receiving some mixed feedback regarding my Honours research, and it’s really thrown me. Two months later I still don’t have my confidence back and am not sure whether what I’m doing is what I should be doing. Here’s a quick summary of my problem. I have a keen interest in historical fiction so my thesis has been centred on looking at the choices made by authors when utilising personal accounts and shaping them for their novels. Part of my thesis includes a work of historical fiction, where I’m using stories from survivors of the Hungarian revolution of 1956 and shaping them to suit my story.

Most of my research so far has looked at the history versus fiction debate, but my assessors last semester alluded to that being an old argument. They suggested I instead look at the genre known as faction, which some authors argue gives a better account of history while still considering itself fictional. My problem is I don’t quite understand the difference between faction and historical fiction. Why was there a need for this new genre and what sets it apart? And if it’s different, well, to be frank, I don’t really care, because my research and my writing up to this point has been about historical fiction and how it contributes to historical knowledge, not bloody faction. So the questions that have been rushing through my mind include:

  • Have I wasted the last year and a half on a topic that is no longer relevant?
  • Do I need to come up with a whole new argument and focus for my thesis?
  • Do I need to reframe my own historical fiction into faction, and if so, how?
  • Is all this angst worth it?
  • If I’m getting so worked up over Honours, do I really want to do a PhD?

Ok, so I’m clearly talking about academic writing here but the impact spilled over into the rest of my writing, and as a result this blog got neglected, I haven’t been reading as much, and my Facebook and Twitter feeds also took a dive. And I am struggling to get my motivation back, so am now two months behind schedule.

So, what’s the solution? Well, obviously aside from thrashing out these issues with my supervisor (poor Jodie) I just need to get back onto things as best I can. I need to find more papers explaining or providing analyses of texts considered to be in the faction genre for a start. But most of all, I just need to keep writing my story. My characters are screaming at me to get on with it, so I really need to start listening.

What are your solutions for getting yourself out of these writing ruts?

Published inWriting


  1. Sounds to me like part of your thesis could be a comparison of faction versus historical fiction versus creative nonfiction. Three ways to tell the same story, but with different slants.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the doldrums. If you haven’t wanted to quit at least twice before you submit your thesis it probably means you weren’t challenging yourself enough. For more general writing fatigue, I find having a supportive peer or writing group can really help. If somebody else is excited about your story it can rekindle your own excitement.

    I know it sounds trite, but the slump you are experiencing is common. I’d even say normal. But you can get through it. Hang in there!

    • Melinda Kovac Melinda Kovac

      Thanks Alisdair, it’s always good to be reminded that you’re not alone! I haven’t looked into any local writing groups but that sounds like something that might be useful.
      Hopefully the thesis will come together in the end, without sounding like a confused mess 🙂

  2. Oh Melsy, I know exactly what you mean. I have done hardly any work on my novel, and it’s driving me nuts, because I know it won’t get written unless I write. Funny about that! Having said that, I’m a dutiful blogger and have been able to keep *that* up, which is something, I guess. I’m sure once work finishes up and I’m in a new environment, my productivity will increase. Until then, I’ve just got to wait it out.

    • Melinda Kovac Melinda Kovac

      I think a change of environment will be excellent for you (even though I will miss you!). Still can’t wait to read your novel 🙂

      • I’ll sign you up to be my beta reader, Melsy 🙂

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