1. Credulous Skeptic
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    Credulous Skeptic Member

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    Are many destined to flounder? If so, why bother?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Credulous Skeptic, Apr 5, 2009.

    Hello,

    I wished to become a writer some two and a half years ago. I began by writing a few short stories. They were amateurish, and I was greatly dissapointed with them. But I didn't give up just yet. Every once in a while I would write another short story to try to improve my writing ability; but nothing I wrote was ever intriguing. So I slowed down a bit and wrote infrequently, and deleted most of what I wrote after several months. I never wrote a short story in which the plot, mood, characters, pacing, and tone all combined to make something memorable. I never would, and I never will. I can't. It's impossible. I'm not a born writer.

    Life after these two and a half years hasn't changed much, but I'm no longer as worried about not being a successful writer. And I hope a lot of people here will feel that way eventually. It will save a lot of people a lot of time, and a lot of frustration.
     
  2. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Born writer? Gosh, I think Will Smith would slap you if he read what you posted. If you see hard work as destiny, then you should bother GREATLY. True, it is easier for some people, but it doesn't means you can't: If you wall your capabilities, then it'll be impossible. Keep writing and reading, write more material and more types of it (poetry, short stories, novels, etc.), write for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you have that way of seeing things, then I assure you you won't flourish as a writer. Instead, start typing another short story and NEVER give up on writing. You have many years to improve, and I wish you good luck on the matter. Practice makes the master. :D
     
  3. Credulous Skeptic
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    Credulous Skeptic Member

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    Marcelo, you're so nice! Thanks.

    How is it in Mexico? I read you can speak in English and Spanish.

    You seem to have a great attitude. I'll try to be more optimistic like you. :)
     
  4. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    What have you done to improve your skills? I reccomend a writing class, or if that is not an option, "The making of the story" by La Plante. That book has worked quite nicely for me.

    I agree that most of us will not become mega famous authors, but we can all master the mechanics of writing (if we want to).
     
  5. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    I try to be optimistic most of the time, but some times I just feel like surrendering. However, what keeps me going are my goals. And yes, I can speak Spanish and English, and simply love my life here. :D
    The only problem I have with English is the pronunciation, and I'm already halfway through it. ;)
     
  6. Chaoslogic
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    Chaoslogic Member

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    I can never seem to get started on a story. It's a discouraging thought since my goal is to complete a novel some day and I have a lot of ideas. I do a lot of research in my spare time. I read the first five pages of random books. I read manga. I read books on writing. I read wikipedia and TVTropes. When I'm unsure about something, I do research and ask questions.

    Since joining this forum I've taken Cog's advice and started reviewing short stories. I'm in the middle of writing one for the contest.

    If you're having trouble with the mechanics, take Kyle's advice. Grab a few books from the library while you're at it. Hit a book store (Chapters) and look through books on writing (no need to buy). Read short stories to see what works and to learn from the mistakes of other people. Take a look at some winning entries in the short story contest.

    I hope this helps.
     
  7. Phantasmal Reality
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    Phantasmal Reality Contributing Member

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    Everyone gets discouraged, and writing takes work regardless of talent. The greatest things in life are worth waiting for, worth striving for, and are usually great because most people turn back or settle well short of them.

    If you want to improve your writing, just expose yourself to it more. Read, write, and hone your own voice. It's just like anything else--you have to work at it.

    Books on "how to write" can be a good starting point. Take what you can from them and try to apply that knowledge. Reread, or at least recall, stories that you liked and analyze how they incorporate various writing and story-telling techniques. Think about what worked for you, and what you felt they maybe could have done better, or at least talked more about (can be a great source of inspiration).

    Oh, and TVTropes is an awesome website. :D
     
  8. RIPPA MATE
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    RIPPA MATE Contributing Member

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    Question: did you ever show you work to other people (like on this forum) to see what they think?
    You might find that the good old comment slaps you back into gear and you realise hey my wriing might not be so bad after all.
     
  9. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good question. You may also just be overly critical of your own work. I wanted to cut some HUGE sections out of mine because they were "Stupid" or just flat out "didn't work". Turns out a few of them were the favorite parts highlited by my workshopping group.
     
  10. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    amazingly enough, reading and critiquing other peoples work will help you. It's no so much as showcasing your work that makes you improve. It will help in a degree only as long as you are willing to 'see' what they say and be willing to change you words accordingly.

    The other things is, we are poor judges of our own pieces. so never tell yourself that you are a bad writer, or you won't make it. why start of writing in a negative way, plenty of others will do that for you, the idea is to turn those negatives into something useful.

    just so you know 2 and a half years isn't a long time being a writer. Don't be so hard on yourself, lots of time to improve. look at others' work, see how they word things, listen to critiques, they don't all have to be listened to, but if 4 people tell you the don't understand something, well its time for a change.

    the others mentioned great ideas, first step to improving is listening when help is offered.

    good luck in your writings
     
  11. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    If at first you don't succeed, try again. If I gave up every time I was dissatisfied with my work, I'd never get anywhere. I am overly critical of myself, despite people telling me that I am very good with a story. Hey, I still think I suck but I got stories to tell and if other people don't think they suck, it doesn't matter what I think so I'll do it until I can't anymore.

    Now, due to my confidence being easily shaken, I won't show my work to people who know what they're talking about here, at least not until after I am done. lol At least that way, I can say I finished something and have something to show for it. Even if you do give up on your dream, deleting your work is wrong, IMO. At the very least, it shows that you did something. It could make for something interesting to look back on.
     
  12. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    its a good way to see if you've improved also Show, but I think you shouldn't really hesitate so much in showing what you've done. It's best to correct any weaknesses in your pieces early rather than carry them on to another. Critiquing is a good way to improve, see through another's eyes, we type from our minds but sometimes our fingers forget the words or leave them out.

    the thing is, this is a writing forum, everyone is trying the same thing, to get better, never worry about a negative response, instead, learn from it.

    good writings to you
     
  13. Aeroflot
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    Aeroflot Senior Member

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    Just keep trying. Most of the writers I've been looking up didn't start writing until they were 30, and many didn't achieve fame for ten to twenty years

    Haruki Murakami -- Born 1949, entered writing world 1979 at age 30
    Orhan Pamuk -- Born 1952, first novel 1982 at age 30
    Chuck Palahniuk -- Born 1962, first work came out in 1996 at age 34
    Jorge Luis Borges -- Born 1899, first short stories published in 1935 at age 36
    Gabriel Garcia Marquez -- Born 1927, first novel in 1967 at age 40
    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn -- Born 1918, first novella in 1962 at age 44
    Tom Clancy -- Born 1947, didn't publish a novel until he was 39
    etc.
    etc.
    etc.
     
  14. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    No such thing as destiny. You should keep writing and writing if its something you like to do. No one starts out good. I'm sure you're just too harsh on yourself.
     
  15. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    lol I just don't want to risk losing inspiration from heavy criticism. Since I will have to edit it anyway, I might share a little when I'm done so I won't have to worry about losing inspiration, since it's already done. (And so far, I've gotten mainly positive feedback from the story) I've been having trouble with my first novel(likely cause I tried to juggle it with a serial. Finishing the serial first so I can devote fulltime to the novel.) So I withhold from sharing too much until I get the draft written out.

    Besides, I can't share too much of a novel online cause then I have no chance of getting it published so i might need to find like one person I trust to help me work out the kinks.
     
  16. Aeroflot
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    Aeroflot Senior Member

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    You won't lose inspiration if you understand that it's not the idea that's being criticized most of the time but the way it is written. Everybody has good ideas for a novel, but it's the manner in which the story is told that breaks down. So if someone trashes your story, then what that person is really saying is that you have to read and study writing, and practice more. And you can do that. Just take time out of your day to read and write.

    For me, inspiration comes from knowing that my writing sucks now but I can improve if I just continue to read and write. One day, eventually, one of my stories has to be good to someone.

    And don't be afraid to toss one idea aside for a while and come back to it later. I think age affects writing a lot too.
     
  17. OneMoreNameless
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    OneMoreNameless Contributing Member

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    It's fun.

    (No really, if you don't enjoy the process of writing, give up. If you do, don't take it so seriously all the time; enjoy what you write (and read) and you'll improve. Some people ARE going to have a better aptitude for writing than you, but even they need to work on the technical stuff sometimes and if you enjoy writing then it shouldn't be a problem that you have to work a bit harder to produce excellent writing. First point of order is enjoyment. Second is realism, both ways; yes you might suck, but anyone can get better over time if they consider it important and really work at it. See various ideas already mentioned above.

    Also, deleting old works is a Bad Idea. Never mind self analysis, you never know when you might want to reuse some old inspiration. Plus, when you do eventually improve, it's always a good morale booster to laugh at how bad you used to be. :p My disregard for self help writing books is a rant for another time.)
     
  18. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah still, lol. I'd rather the completed story be critiqued. Somebody with as little self-confidence as I have can't risk losing what little I have.

    Well, some of my stories are good to some people already. So I figure not to push my luck with it. lol

    I don't like tossing ideas aside too much. I've done that before and it ends up killing stories for me usually. I like to try and finish something. At least then I can say I finished it. And then of course, once it's finished, I can go back and hammer out the errors.
     
  19. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    We bother because it's what we do. We know the odds are against us, but don't care. One publisher I regularly submit to says that they get 5000 queries a year, but publish less than fifty books a year, many of which are picture books, and they only take their picture books from agents and referals etc. Yet they are one of my first choices for submissions because I know my work suits them.
     
  20. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    You're right. It never will happen. You have no chance. Given the choice between you writing a memorable short story and a snowball lasting a full minute on the surface of the sun, I'd put my money on the snowball.

    Change that attitude, however, and you'll have just as much chance as any of the rest of us. :cool:
     
  21. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    Skeptic,

    Writing has a learning curve, just like most things that are worthwhile. If you decided to take up golf, you wouldn't expect to hit a hole-in-one on your first shot. If you thought baseball would be fun, you wouldn't look for a 90 mph fastball on your first day. If you wanted to play Chopin at Carnegie Hall, you're probably going to have to play one hell of a lot of scales first.

    Your problem is consistency. Write. Just write. Yes, some of it will be crap. It's supposed to be. That's one of the few "rules" of learning to write. "Thou shalt write crap." You look at the crap and ask yourself, "what makes this crap?" Write another piece that leaves out the issue that made the last one crap.

    You do that over and over again -- even for as little as thirty minutes a day. Soon, you will have a running list of things that make writing crap. Your writing will improve.

    Without a goal (which is really just a dream with a deadline), you might as well go on over the cemetary, dig a hole and pitch a tent over it and move in, because you're really just marking time till you get there anyway.
     
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  22. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    Skeptic, put down the shovel...romanticrose meant it in a figurative way :p

    we all write good and bad pieces, some see the light of day while other wish they never did. but so what, it's writing, good or bad, they still form a sentence.

    good writing to you

    remember, no shovels..but i did laugh at that line, almost went myself
     
  23. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    You are my new favourite person on this site.
     
  24. x_raichelle_x
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    x_raichelle_x Contributing Member

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    I think you should ask yourself why you write. If you write to become a succesful author, chances are youre just going through what you think the motions are, & don't actually care about what youre writing, meaning your full concentration isnt going into it. If you are able to get excited over what youre writing about, & enjoy writing just for the sake of it, then you'd be a lot happier over the whole concept; your characters would be more rounded because you would have cared about how much personality they have & they would mean something to you; and your writing overall would turn out better :) x
     
  25. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    While I do believe that some people have a natural gift for the written word which might aid them in honing the craft, that does not mean that others cannot achieve the same status as an equally distinguished writer.
    Go back to grade school --there was the naturally gifted student who never did his homework but still maintained a 4.0 grade point average. And then there is the girl who struggles through math class every day, but she still pulls off an equivalent grade point average because of her hard work.

    It is this kind of negativity that disgusts me. :( If you go into something saying "I cant, I cant, I cant" you must A) not expect anyone to tell you that, yes, you can and B) not expect to make any great strides, especially if you've only been working infrequently. Writing is like building muscle. Stop and it'll turn to fat --weak and ugly.

    You cannot decide to sit down and be a masterful writer with "plot, mood, characters, pacing, and tone all combined to make something memorable" without ever having made the effort to better yourself or starting from the bottom first. To do this, I suggest studying a bit of linguistics and literary theory as well as the art of literary devices.

    If you do want to better yourself, keep at it. Attend a writing workshop. They're everywhere, and if you cant get to one, there are plenty of online workshops. If you dont want to shell out that kind of money, I'm sure there are plenty of users who would be happy to point out their favourite help guides; there's tons of them at your local bookstore. Or, you could just decide to be consistant, and I promise you will make dramatic leaps. There is no magic bullet to becoming a fabulous writer, and I'm sure everyone else here will concur. And there is certainly no formula to getting on the Times bestseller list.

    I will tell you one secret though: Complaining about being a mediocre writer is the best way to stay one.

    Glad to see that you no longer care about the success of your writing though. If you go into this profession wanting to be recognized and adored, you will likely end up hating your job.

    To write is to fail. And you will fail again and again and again and again (Writing 101: This is a very tough business), but with any luck, positive thinking, and educated work, you'll get somewhere.
     

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