1. Dave Gregory
    Offline

    Dave Gregory Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    1

    An ok writer, but not a natural writer... Anyone else in this boat?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Dave Gregory, Jun 11, 2015.

    I've written before about how painfully slowly I write. Today I've put in four hours and rattled out.......

    Two pages!

    Two.... Friggin'.... Pages!

    Now, I know I am alright as a writer - people do seem to like my output. But I'm having trouble reconciling this with how loooong it takes me to form sentences and render a scene into a readable shape.

    Half my problem is I simply can't move on until a paragraph reads like something I'd call a second draft. Though this hardly helps as I return to pages at least another half dozen times and re-draft..... And re-draft..... And wonder what the hell I was thinking on all those past drafts, so..... Re-draft....

    Nyaaaagh!

    Anyone else find writing such a struggle yet turn out reasonable stuff all the same? How do you square that against all the Kerouacs out there who seem to pile through 300 pages in a fortnight and still keep your self-confidence up?
     
  2. Aaron DC
    Offline

    Aaron DC Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,554
    Likes Received:
    1,251
    Location:
    At my keyboard
    Mocheo Timo and peachalulu like this.
  3. Stacy C
    Offline

    Stacy C Banned

    Joined:
    May 3, 2015
    Messages:
    272
    Likes Received:
    127
    Location:
    Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
    I think that two second-draft pages in four hours would thrill almost anyone here.
     
    matwoolf likes this.
  4. Komposten
    Offline

    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    1,580
    Likes Received:
    667
    Location:
    Sweden
    I write at a pace of an average of 300-500 words per session, and a session can be up to two hours. That's like between 2-8 pages worth of words (300 words per page) in first draft quality (i.e. completely terrible and most definitely unreadable). I don't care about how much I write, instead I care about the fact that I do write. I love writing, so as long as I keep doing it I'll be happy, whether I write a hundred words a day or a thousand does not matter.
     
    sprirj and Thisgirlsonfire like this.
  5. TiffanyAnne
    Offline

    TiffanyAnne New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2015
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Canada
    I never focus on how much I write, because - depending on my mood - each day is different. Some days, I write a lot. Other days, I barely get a page out. I'm not sure if this is true for everyone, but a little advice I'd have is to stop editing as you go. Stop re-writing and just keep going forward. I did the re-writes in the middle of writing the book once - I never could get past twenty pages of content, because I kept going back and reading from the beginning and re-writing those same twenty pages, over and over until I got so caught up and so frustrated, I gave up! It took me a while to get to where I am now where I just write the book, I don't even look back over it or read it until it's finished. Everyone writes in a different way though, it's what makes you individual. But if it helps, you could focus on just pressing forward and stop yourself from re-writing the stuff you've already written. :)
     
  6. The Mad Regent
    Offline

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    Wirral, England
    I'm the same, buddy, but I tell remind myself that it's about getting your story onto the paper and worrying about the quality later. You're what I can only describe as 'highly self critical.' I'm exactly the same, but it's not a burden, it's a blessing in my opinion, because we strive for perfection.

    One thing I found helps massively with the struggle is thorough planning. If I know what I need to write and plan out the certain details involved, then the writing comes more smoothly.

    It is also down to ones mood, as well. I'd recommend keeping a good sleeping schedule and exercising daily to keep your mind sharp.
     
    bdw8 likes this.
  7. bdw8
    Offline

    bdw8 Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2015
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    8
    It depends on what you want to get out of writing. There are very few people (if any?) who can spin out high quality books at high volume. Generally speaking, quality and quantity are inversely related.

    I don't like to admit it, but I've been working on one screenplay (my first script) for around 7 years. What helps me to stay motivated is that my friend's uncle sold his first spec script to Disney -- one of the most difficult studios to sell to -- after spending 10 years on his spec script. That said, I believe many writers would benefit from approaching writing in a bit more of a structured way. The first 6 years I trudged through and completed a "final draft" without much more than a loose plan for where I wanted the story to go. It's not terribly surprising that the story didn't meet my expectations -- in fact, staying motivated was the most difficult part of this entire process.

    A year ago, I reached out to a consultant who now has me working on a 20 page treatment, outlining not just the major story components but the key parts of each scene as well. And during this last year, I've been rewriting the story again and again -- only, it's much easier to rewrite a 20 page treatment than the whole script. And taking a bird's eye view of the entire script has really helped me to reimagine it in its most exciting and emotionally satisfying way. I'm to the point now where the story has actually exceeded my initial expectations -- and I can still see areas of improvement, although I'm finally closing in on its finished form.

    So, first of all, don't give up. While some may be able to write and sell a story with relative ease, I would suggest most of us struggle to keep the pace we'd like. Also, be realistic: you can write more if you care less about the quality; and, we are all coming from different personal situations. While some may be working two jobs to support themselves through college, others may have the summer off, and still others may find themselves in careers that are more mentally or physically taxing than others. Finally, there are almost certainly ways you can improve your writing quality and efficiency -- and if you're new to writing, it's a good bet you just haven't found the ways that work best for you yet. Keep writing and seeking feedback from others, and you're bound to get better -- the same way you'd train for anything else.
     
  8. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Hey look, if by the end of 4 hours you have a near-perfect 2 pages, then I'd say congrats. Better 2 near-perfect pages than 100 pages of utter trash that you're just gonna have to delete anyway. Quality, not quantity, my friend ;)

    However, you may wanna make a rule for yourself as to how far to go back. I edit as I go along, so I understand the impulse, and I'll read the same scene at least 5 times before I move on. But basically, whenever I go back, I only go back by one or two scenes max. That can stop you forever editing and not writing because every time you're only editing a bitesize chunk.

    By the end of your novel you'll have improved drastically, so yes, you'll redraft that near-perfect manuscript, and that's ok too :) See it as a positive that you've improved enough to see the flaws!
     
    Ivana likes this.
  9. BookLover
    Offline

    BookLover Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2014
    Messages:
    291
    Likes Received:
    186
    I spent about four hours yesterday on two paragraphs, trying to describe a stupid wedding dress. (A lot of that time was research based, but still...) And what happens if I edit later and decide that detailed wedding dress description slows things down, and I chop it? That's four hours of my life gone. o_O

    Don't worry so much about the time spent or the word count. Although don't obsess too much on a first draft either, to the extent that it stops you from finishing. It's a balancing act, I guess.

    And practice has been proven to help people improve at a quicker pace than trying to reach perfection. There's an old psychology story about two groups of people making clay vases. The group that concentrated on quantity over quality improved their quality at a faster rate than the group that focused on quality over quantity.

    Eh, a quick google search, and I can find it mentioned in various places. (Although I first read about it in a psychology textbook.)
    http://blog.codinghorror.com/quantity-always-trumps-quality/
    http://pottery.about.com/od/apottersconceptualspace/a/apocrytale.htm

    But at the same time...

    On a different writing forum I visit, there was a new member who was writing like crazy. I was so impressed. I couldn't believe how much she was getting done. I admired her, until she posted some of her work. Ugh. Let's just say she clearly needed to work a lot more on quality and craft. I was no longer impressed at all and thought what is the point of turning out so much work if it's going to be so awful? I didn't feel like she would improve much despite all her quantity because it didn't seem like she was trying to improve or thinking about improving or even reading over what she had written.

    So, in conclusion, I dunno.

    I guess just do what works for you and don't worry about the output of others. :)
     
    GingerCoffee and peachalulu like this.
  10. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,824
    Likes Received:
    2,381
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Well there are some people that can go to the john with a note pad and come out with a novel. I'm not one of them. I'm not slow but I'm not necessarily fast either.
    I can spend twenty minutes on one sentence trying to get a verb right ( usually though this is during a second draft. ) and I usually write 2-3 pages per hour give or take.
    You could set small rules for yourself. I try not to fuss with the wording until the scene is finished. I don't always follow this so sometimes I make another rule - no fussing till I finish a paragraph or take a break. Or if you're a good typer, cover your screen so you won't be tempted to change anything you just have to keep going forward.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2015
  11. The Mad Regent
    Offline

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    Wirral, England
    :superlaugh:
     
  12. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,210
    Likes Received:
    4,220
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    What? It's very stress-relieving to go to the john and write/brainstorm.
     
  13. Dave Gregory
    Offline

    Dave Gregory Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    1
    Not just me then? That makes me feel better. Though I need to work out a way to stop the compulsive editing-on-the-fly.
     
  14. aguywhotypes
    Offline

    aguywhotypes Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    77
    Location:
    Millersburg, Ohio, United States
    At least it's progress. Sounds good to me.

    It takes me a lot of sweat and tears just to write a small piece of flash fiction sometimes. Very frustrating but at least it's finished and I move on.
     
  15. The Mad Regent
    Offline

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    Wirral, England
    Well, if it were easy then everyone would be doing it, right?

    :superwink:
     
    Dave Gregory likes this.
  16. No-Name Slob
    Offline

    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    1,232
    Likes Received:
    925
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    This is ... delete ...
    I typically write ... delete ...
    It's exceptionally difficult for me to be satisfied with ... delete ...
    forming a well written piece takes a lot ... delete ...

    Forming a well written piece takes patience, time, and effort for even the most fluid writers.
     
  17. EmptySoul
    Offline

    EmptySoul Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2015
    Messages:
    163
    Likes Received:
    83
    Location:
    A coffee shop where it is always 3 am.
    I describe writing as trying to ballroom dance while waist high in a pool of maple syrup.
     
  18. Komposten
    Offline

    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    1,580
    Likes Received:
    667
    Location:
    Sweden
    I've never ballroom danced nor been waist high in a pool of maple syrup, but I think I get the picture. That would be so hilarious to see! :D
     
  19. RachHP
    Offline

    RachHP Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2015
    Messages:
    262
    Likes Received:
    158
    Location:
    England
    I'm in this boat, too!
    As for self confidence, I think I compensate with self discipline...
    There are days where no matter what I write, I'm going to hate it (that's just who I am). It's not going to stop me from getting on with it*; finishing that sentence/paragraph/chapter/book and trying to make it the best that I can.
    Ultimately, studying the craft and making the effort to apply what you've learned is going to determine the quality of what you complete. Natural talent only takes you so far.

    *As a rule, though we all spit the dummy out occasionally :rolleyes:
     
  20. ToeKneeBlack
    Offline

    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2014
    Messages:
    592
    Likes Received:
    207
    I think I fit this description too. To begin with, I had a story in mind which I wanted to share, but I had no idea how I would translate it into a flowing, well written narrative.

    However, a band of supportive fans who liked the idea of the story was enough to motivate me to look at other narratives for compelling sentence structure and other constructive elements.

    Some days I can write and write for hours, but then I'll look back at what I've written a week later and think, "What was I thinking when I wrote this?" But that's a natural part of the drafting process. Few if any get it right the first time.
     
  21. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,605
    Likes Received:
    5,083
    I think possibly I'm the opposite, if that makes any sense?

    I think I was such a voracious, omnivorous reader for the first good chunk of my life that I internalized a lot of writing theory without even thinking about it. And then I combined that with a pretty active imagination, so I think I am a fairly natural writer. (If this is what you mean by natural). I write pretty quickly and pretty easily, and the end product is good enough to publish.

    But I'm finding it hard to improve on that natural ability, because I have about zero knowledge about writing fiction. I have a good education, but in different fields. When people talk about all these different theories and techniques and rules (with or without scare quotes) I have to scramble to keep up, because I never really learned them. I buy books on writing and try to read them, but I rarely get far before I start telling myself "you're doing fine, you don't need to read this and get confused and muddle up a system that's already working for you.'

    The problem, of course, is that good might be the enemy of great. I have larger ambitions and might be able to do a lot better than I am if I stopped relying on being a natural writer and actually pushed myself to learn more technique and theory. But then I worry that I might push myself away from my natural strengths and find that I'm nowhere useful...

    So, no, I don't have the same problem. But that doesn't mean there aren't other things to worry about!
     
  22. Aaron DC
    Offline

    Aaron DC Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,554
    Likes Received:
    1,251
    Location:
    At my keyboard
    With all due respect and well wishes, of course: if it's not broken ffs don't fix it!!
     
  23. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,504
    Likes Received:
    1,337
    I suspect that great is being who you are.

    I very much doubt that James Joyce read a how-to book in his life.

    The one book I've read that I can definitely say came from a graduate of Creative Writing was turgid and unbelievable, and I couldn't get past half-way before I binned it - and I never bin books, and my daughter gave it me and I so wanted to finish it, but, Oh God!
     
  24. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,605
    Likes Received:
    5,083
    But... what if I'm driving around in a beat-up-but-reliable Toyota, but if I got a few more parts and did some work I could turn it into a Ferrari? Or, you know, at least an Acura.
     
  25. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,504
    Likes Received:
    1,337
    I was in a business meeting where the salesman, bigging up his product, said "What would you rather have, a Rolls-Royce or a Volvo?"
    "A Volvo", my colleague responded. (He already had a Volvo - now that's brand loyalty!)
     
    BayView likes this.

Share This Page