1. jayanimate
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    jayanimate New Member

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    An introduction, and a question for all

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by jayanimate, Sep 20, 2014.

    First of all, hello. I've just signed up to this forum today.

    I'm an MA student in the uk, and I've been wanting to write for some time. I have a finished manuscript that has been sent off in the past, and while I have nothing to show for it save some feedback, I have to ask about writing in general.

    I had an idea for a novel series when I was about 14, and have spent years trying to perfect the details, find my style and shape this story. I have document and after document of character biographies, chapter summaries, timeline charts, character artwork, location artwork, even some book cover designs. Thing is, since my first manuscript was finished at the age of 17, I have had to put my writing on one side for my college and university education. I have two more years till I finish, and I feel I must sadly put this part of my life to one side, even though I think about my story most days of the week.


    My feedback I got years ago was simply:

    In many ways the writing is strong. You use effective imagery and an intriguing storyline is developing.

    On the whole though, if you don't me me saying so, it is rather over-written. More should be left to the reader's imagination. 'Show, don't tell', as publishers are always saying.

    I do hope you find the right agent.

    I've taken this to heart and tried to perfect my use of wording, but I'm not ready to write another one (though I have everything is bullet points.

    Does it seem now is a good time to stop writing and pick up when my studies finish? Has anyone else had to put off writing? How did you cope? I keep feeling I'm procrastinating pointlessly by not progressing with my work.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    When are you going to have MORE time than you do now?

    I'm not sure what your career plans are, but I would say I had the most flexibility and the most free time in my student days. Since then, everything has gotten progressively busier and busier, and it's been harder and harder to carve out time to write.

    So... I'd recommend that you write now, if at all possible. Because if you can't prioritize it now, I'm not sure when you'll be able to.
     
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  3. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    While what BayView says is a bummer, it appears the truth.
     
  4. jayanimate
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    jayanimate New Member

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    I did talk about this, but my creativity is on my course, and it's a masters degree, so it's a bit harder than a typical degree (thats why I took it part time, depression issues almost made me fail through two years of uni on more than one occasion cause I was a total mess).

    As far as career path is going, it's animation, and that's standard office hours typically, but I intend for now to freelance and write on the side. Thing with this course is it's using up my creative energy and I want to get as high a grade as possible for so (at least for this first year of it) I'm putting some things on the backburner. I do get a long period next summer of no lectures, so I figure writing then might not be such a bad plan, but definitely not in this first semester. I also mentioned the depression and other factors in my life being things impacting me right now (still in cognitive behavioural therapy) so without trying to slip into the doom and gloom avenue you might be unintentionally guiding this too, I'll pose a better question.

    If you had to take a break/postpone from writing, what's the best thing to do to keep yourself in a good place to pick it back up later? I hear sometimes reading can be beneficial to a writer, if not essential to staying in the mindset of book-related things.
     
  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I did graduate work, too. There was still more free time than I had after I was in the workforce. This isn't 'doom and gloom', it's just experience. I'm not saying you won't have time to write - I'm just saying you're not likely to have LOTS of time to write, at least until you retire. You're probably always going to have to MAKE time to write, rather than having time presented to you gift-wrapped and waiting. (I don't watch TV at all and I cut back on social engagements that I knew I wouldn't truly enjoy. I also hired people to clean my house and do my yard work. You'll have to make your own decisions on what is less important than writing and should therefore be skipped/delegated).

    You might also be thinking in terms of writing needing large blocks of time. If you work at it you can probably get good at writing in little bits here and there - waking up a half-hour early to get some done in the morning, thinking about the story off-and-on all day, then getting a few more words down in the fifteen minutes before bed. It adds up.

    That said, If you're dealing with mental health issues as well, maybe you DO have too much on your plate right now. I guess it's not so much a question of time as of energy. You're the one who can judge that.

    So, yes, I think it's pretty much universally acknowledged that reading is good for writers. I don't think I'd worry about being in 'a good place to pick it up later' - trying to keep yourself in a writing zone without doing any writing seems like it would be exhausting and fruitless. Just put the writing away and enjoy your reading!
     
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  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    From the description of your feedback, I'd say you need to learn a bit more (which one can do from critiques). Show, don't tell is a common need for new writers to learn. My advice (which is only worth something if it makes sense to you and it may not) is first of all, don't give up and start over. Instead rewrite what you have.

    Take a chapter at a time. Edit one you have already written, get some feedback, learn from the feedback and build on that as you take the next chapter.

    You may not be able to do much when your workload is high, so consider writing on breaks when you have no schoolwork pending.

    I write, taking lots of breaks as I go. It wears my brain out sometimes as I try to apply what I've learned but have not mastered. I could see flipping back and forth between a term paper and a novel chapter, but that may not work for most people.

    That's all I got. :)
     
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  7. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Always edit. That's my simple advice for any writer.

    Once you have something written down, leave it for a while (couple of days/weeks/months) and then go back and edit, try new things, look at the situations your characters are in and see if maybe something needs changing. That being said, you don't have to change anything but going back over what you've written, at a different time means that you will be in a different frame of mind, maybe even a different mood which will show in your writing. When I'm in a bad mood, I write absolute crap except for when I'm dealing with one of my evil characters in which case, the bad mood makes my evil character divinely evil!

    Writers have this golden opportunity of being able to go back and improve as many times as they want or need, what other job can you say gives you that option?
     
  8. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    Wow, this was pretty much me twenty years ago (even down to the feedback from an agent I sent the book to when I was 17 years old). Admittedly there is a slight difference that my MA was in English so I was pretty much studying what I would some day be writing.

    As to my writing, well it took more of a back seat during my studies, refraining from novel writing and concentrating on those pieces I could finish, such as short stories, which is a valuable discipline to master and in my opinion, harder than novel writing (it teaches valuable brevity!).

    So I can only advise what I did, maybe even write shorter pieces. That you should always give time to your writing even if it's not as much time as you'd like, otherwise later you might find it harder to compel yourself to sit at the computer and start a novel. I like to think of the writer inside me as a muscle and if I don't use it from time to time, it will wither.

    But that doesn't apply to everyone nor their circumstances.
     
  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    A couple of things jumped out at me that are incredibly positive. One, that you actually finished a piece. And two, that you think about your story all the time. Both of these scream YES to me. I think you are already a writer. Of course you have much to learn about the craft, but I think the soul is definitely there.

    As to whether you can write and get your MA at the same time? I don't know. If you're studying and writing papers, you might not have the KIND of time you need to write creatively as well. It's not how much time you have, it's how it gets filled.

    I mean, if you work 10 hours a day at a job that involves flipping burgers, that won't drain your creative juices. So when you get home at night, you can throw your greasy clothing into the wash, pour yourself a coffee and whack straight into a creative project. However, if you're spending your day studying, creating papers and theses, attending lectures, etc, your creative brain may well be exhausted, and you need to fill your spare time with other kinds of non-mental activities.

    This situation is only temporary, though. That's the good bit. If you do find time to write while studying, great. But if you don't, I'd say don't beat yourself up about it.

    Keep thinking about your story, maybe spend some time reading a few books that will help you nail the areas of concern in your writing, such as the show and tell problem. That way you can learn more about your chosen craft without beating your brain to a pulp. But focus on the MA, because that's your number one priority just now. Once that's past, and you get a real job, then maybe things will settle and you can start writing and revising in earnest.
     
  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think if you love something, you always come back to it sooner or later. If you really want to do this - write a book - then you'll do it, at some point. As for when you do it, that depends on you, life circumstances, and boils down to what keeps you satisfied. If you're happy working on what you are now and putting writing aside for a while, then do that, it's okay. Just make sure that, at some point, you make time for what you really, truly wanted to do. That may or may not be writing. But figure out what you really want, and just make sure you make room for that, whatever it takes.
     
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  11. Michaelson345
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    Michaelson345 Member

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    Yes exactly ! Totally agree with your statement. It all depends up on the circumstances.
     
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  12. Christine Ralston
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    Christine Ralston Active Member

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    And taking time away from writing can be a good thing as you work on building life experiences. You cannot write about what you do not know about. So live, learn, and then write.
     
  13. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    As Cutecat said, the thing to do is edit...there are two parts of writing, the creative bit when you get the ideas down on paper (and you've already done that) and the editing bit when you turn those ideas into something that is worth publishing.

    To my mind, editing shouldn't burn up too much creativity...you've got the ideas down, you just need to make the words say it the best way, and you could probably edit ten minutes here and there.

    Having said that, I've only ever completed short stories - I tend to get bogged down in editing as I write, and run out of steam! - so I'm only quoting "general wisdom".
     
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  14. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I put off writing, all art actually, when I got into medical school and it wasn't until many years later, after a health setback and having to take extended leave, that I found energy and more importantly brain space, to write. Medicine is overwhelmingly full of information, now more than ever there are so many things to take into consideration, it leaves very little space for anything else, especially in undergrad and early career stages. I don't know what your field is, but I can certainly relate to your issues. I think with a less complex field of study (or a more complementary one) fiction writing may be possible, but that wasn't my experience. I hope you find a way though, getting organised helps, making sure you have some time set aside regularly to write might help.
     
  15. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    @Shadowfax you say you've only completed short stories because you get bogged down with editing, are you wanting to try something novel-length?? If so, try looking at it this way:

    Write a bunch of short stories (some with good things, some with bad things) but use all the same characters, at different times of their lives.

    When you have a bunch of them, read through and see if you can put them in order and glue them together with short written sections to fill in some of the gaps.

    Obviously, there is more to the whole thing, like checking for continuity, re-writing sections to fit with changes and even deleting chunks that may not fit at all but in reading your comment earlier, I realised that this is how I write 170k + word novels. I do have a very basic start and end but everything in-between is made from short stories over a period of a few years of my character's lives that I then weave together to form the whole story. Particularly with my WIP which has only been in my head for a year and is still writing itself. (my first was in my head for 20 years, plenty of time for it to iron out it's creases).
     
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