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A discussion to stoke your writing fire.
Posted: 1/23/2010 5:04 PM PST
I think you're suffering from what must of us writers have: Perfection Syndrome. It's where you write something, read it, tell yourself it's crap and try to do it over, but it's just not working out. You get frustrated, walk away...come back, it's still not working, and then you're about ready to cry.
Here is where I tell you that a first anything is going to suck--first draft, first story (there may be some exceptions), first love, etc. Personally, it took me about ten or more half-go's before I got it right, and this was spaced out in about five years. I even stopped writing for a whole year because I was convinced that everything was crap and I was suffering from major block. Turns out that was the best thing I could have done, I came back and it was like I'd stored up all of these characters and situations and everyone wanted out at once. It took two more years and a handful of stories before I finally nailed it. It took me three months to write the novel, and an addition three months to revise, break it apart and put it back together, cry, smile, and cry some more, but this time it was because it was finished, it was perfect, or as close as humanly possible, and I was ready.
A note for you:
I think you need to just get the first draft out of the way. It's the hardest part, only because you're constantly battling with that inner voice in your head telling you it's just not working. Just write it, it sucks, I know. Jump over the parts that don't work, come back to it when you know what needs to be there. But all in all, get that first draft done because without it, you have nothing to go off of. I read somewhere that you can't possibly know a story until you tell it. And that's true, each of our stories have never been told before because they are ours, so we don't know where the heck we'll end up, but we just know we want to find out. After you write it, trust me, every loose bit will start falling into place, you'll find yourself staring at your screen most days and wondering who in the world you did all of this and where the words came from. They are all there in you, but you just have to give yourself room to screw up, learn from it, and do it again, do it better.
I hope that helped.
Posted: 1/15/2010 10:31 AM PST
There's a kind of an old saying in the writing world that's something like this: When you write, write. When you edit, edit. They are two totally different processes, accomplished by two different areas of the mind. If you are editing while you are trying to write, you'll never be able to write.
One thing that I would do is pick up a copy of Natalie Goldberg's book, Writing Down the Bones. I think it would help you.
There's also another wonderful book by David Bayles and Ted Orland called Art & Fear. You will really find the book helpful. It deals with artists of all ilk, in particular visual artists, but most of their advice can be applied to any type of artist.
One of my favorite stories in the book is a story about a pottery class where the instructor divides the class in half. One half of the class is told that they will be graded on the amount of work that they produce, with no regard to quality. The other half of the class is told that they only have to produce one piece, and that is what they will be graded on. They are all sent away to work. When the end of the semester comes, the instructor inspects the work of both groups looking to find the hightest quality work. Not surprisingly, the highest quality work came from the group who was graded for quantity, because instead of worrying about the quality of their work, they simply worked as hard and as diligently as they could. The group who obsessed over their one piece, trying to make it perfect, hardly produced any work at all.
If you can find them, I think you'll enjoy both books. I'm a screenwriting instructor who teaches at a community college, so I deal with writers all the time. If you'd like to check out some of my other ideas on writing, you might want to check out my webpage www.how-to-write-a-screenplay-aid.com.
Posted: 12/11/2009 3:36 AM PST
PS I think writing it would be easier then speaking. For me anyway. If typing doesn't work either: try a pen (in bed, late at night). That's what works best for me most of the time, especially for making up the idea of the story. Adding things and scratching, making a mess can actually be helpful.
Good luck SC
Posted: 12/11/2009 3:32 AM PST
I had a similar problem a few years ago, and I think the problem was really about focusing at that one project too much.
Maybe you should try to write something totally different, crazy, useless. I found it very releaving to write something totally different. I live in Holland and I was writing a story in Dutch and one moment it just totally didn't work out. I wrote something in English (see my account) and some time later found this website and it totally helped me out. So maybe another language would help too (if that's possible).
And indeed don't be afraid to write crap, we all did and do. If I read the things I wrote years ago I hate most of it, but that's good: then you see you're moving on and getting better at it.
Try not to stop writing: it's the one thing you learn the most of. And you can give your story a rest and start something else, and throw it away if you've had enough of it, and start something else again.
Another thing I found inspiring was making writer exercises with a group of people (very small exercises). Read eachothers work that was build on the same base and see the differences. Very interesting how you can see peoples characters through their stories sometimes, when you reed several types of writing from them!
Write an actionscene every night for a week, or try something else, but relax, it's not your fault that it's not working now.
You just gotta find that writer again, and you will.
Posted: 11/11/2009 12:15 PM PST
Welcome to WEbook. First off, try WEbook's Writer's workshop. It might help you.
Second, you'll have to find some way to relax. Eat your favorite comfort food. Watch TV or movies. Read books. Get drunk. Whatever you need, but just relax. When you're all tense and overcritical, writng is impossible.
Don't be afraid to write crap. If you know it's crap, then you can figure out how to make it better. But start with crap, if you have to, and keep some toilet paper handy! Just kidding.
You have to keep a sense of humor when writing or you'll never get anywhere.
What works for me is knowing as much as I can about the story I wish to write before writing it. I need to know about the characters, the setting, the plot, how it ends, everything that I can. That might work for you.
But most important, relax. Let go. And don't worry. You'll be fine.
Posted: 11/11/2009 10:17 AM PST
Hello everybody I'm an unpublished writer, working on my first novel, and I've got writers block for about a year and a half now. It is because I am being too overcritical myself, and I have spent months combing the web for anything to help, but so far I've got no results. I've read all the crap about take a walk and whatnot, but the thing I found most helpful is a forum that said, to write for 10 minutes with out thinking about what you are saying, however when I tried this I couldn't do it. I'm also using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10, I don't know if that could have anything to do with it as speaking the story might be harder than writing it. If you could please respond and help me with this problem it would be much appreciated.