1. JayT
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    JayT New Member

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    Can't Find The Words

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JayT, Sep 14, 2013.

    When I was a child, and all the way into my teens, my biggest ambition was to write a novel. Even if it didn't get published and it remained a manuscript for the rest of my days, the desire to write and complete a novel was, I guess still is, something that has always stayed with me.

    As a young boy I used to love writing short stories. I even wrote in creative writing competitions at school and got great praise for my work. Now, a 25 year old father of 2, I feel as though I have completely lost touch with the writer that I know is still within me. Sometimes I find myself thinking about ideas for characters and plots, etc, and after a time I find these ideas just dwindle into nothingness. Sounds stupid, but it's like I've lost the ability to be descriptive. It's really frustrating that the desire is still there, the ideas still ebb and flow, it's all there in my head. I just feel as though I have nothing worthy of putting down on paper.

    I know this may sounds odd to you and you're probably reading this thinking "Well, maybe you're just not cut out for writing anymore" or "Maybe you're not as". I don't even have a question to put to you. I just wanted to air my frustrations and see if any of you can offer some words of advice.
     
  2. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Don't think, just do it. Writing has a way of involving. Why get bogged down with whether you'll be able to describe something. Get something down on paper—anything—and if it's not to your liking, ask yourself why, and set about changing it. Don't stress yourself, just let it come naturally.

    oh... and another thing. It's not uncommon for me to wake up in the morning and feel as you do. We all get doubts.
     
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  3. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    More appropriate for the lounge section I think. Anyway, to be frank I think you are airing the thoughts of many many members here including me. If this is any consolation to your crying soul ;) YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

    Take me for example. I had even published some short stories and my ambition was to write a novel, but then life and stuff (I don't really have an excuse) came in the way. I am now 35 and I still hope to write that novel. All I can say is welcome to the club.

    From a practical POV I would say you should force yourself to write at least one hour a day no matter what (throw away excuses like inspiration not striking and the likes). And 25 is still very young.
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, this is absolutely spot-on advice.

    You don't have to start with a full-blown story. Get a scene in your head, even if you don't know where it's going, and write it. See what you've got once you've finished it. Ideas will start flooding in. The more you write, the more ideas will pop into the mix.

    As someone who shared your ambition to write a novel, I can honestly say the most satisfying thing I've EVER done is finish mine! Even before I started doing serious editing, which involved me throwing more than a third of it away altogether, I knew I had done it. Someone who has written a novel is a novelist! Same way that somebody who writes poems is a poet. (Somebody who only thinks about writing poems is not, though.)

    Publication may well be a goal, but even if that never happens you can say to yourself, and to other people, "I've written a novel."

    The characters you create will not have existed without you. They are just as real as any other author's creations. There's no other feeling quite like it.
     
  5. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    To paraphrase...Often it's a case of perspiration rather than inspiration, but that's where the sense of achievement comes from. Even the feeling I get when I write one good paragraph, makes all the hesitant fumbling with words worthwhile.
     
  6. Unkept
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    Unkept New Member

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    I'm 24, and in same same boat as you (sans kids!).

    I just started "seriously" writing again this morning, after practically a years worth of attempts and frustration.

    My current idea is to create a parallel "writer's journal" alongside my work on my novel.

    This idea came to me, because I find I can write about my thoughts and experiences within the real world quite easily. I get hung up and stuck when I try to write fiction.

    However, when I began to "warm up" after writing for awhile I found I became more creative and it allowed me to get words onto the digital page.

    For example, today I wrote 1,068 words so far in my journal. I also wrote over 400 words in content for my story.

    That's about 1,500 more words than I wrote yesterday. If I keep up with the journal, subsequently the content should also keep growing. Soon enough, I may have my first draft.

    Wish us both luck, please.
    -Joe
     
  7. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    When it comes to writing anything is possible, friend. If you have an idea write it however it comes to you. Then, once you've reread it, you can rewrite it. Don't let the little things slip away simply because you don't know if you have the strength to grasp them and pull them forth. Descriptions are not the crux of a story, start with skeletons if you must. Then add the meat with some descriptions and creativity. Finally, cover it in a skin of personalization (I know that's not a word, but bare with me).

    You have all the skills you need to write, you just have to write and get your morale up again. I experienced the same feeling earlier this year. I doubted if I'd ever fall back into writing... Then I decided I would go back to my source for inspiration, take a look at the things that made me want to write in the first places(books, movies, comics, tv shows) and then at my old writing to see what drove me. And while I perused over old work, I kept thinking, "God I know I can do better than this." So I did. I took old storie and started rewriting them. I took real life events and started trying to turn them into stories. I read more and got active on the Forums. I Tried to look past the hard critiques of the writers here and focus on the skill sets I needed to learn (and am still learning).

    When it comes to regaining your mojo, the best advice I can give is not to simply push through and write anyway. I find that to be a very frustrating process. I would very much recommend re-immersing yourself in all the things that make you want to write until you have no choice but to fish out one of your many ideas and put it on the page. Then, work on small things: paragraphs, scenes, dialogue, things you can perfect in no time while also focusing in on specific skills. One success at a time yyou will feel yourself improve. Its as you have said, it's all within you. You just have to find what stimuli drew that side of you out and swim in it; swim in it until your inner writer is writing again.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Hmm. Can't find the words, eh? That's probably because you got here late and the rest of us had used most of them up already. I just checked the bin, though, and "prognosticate" is still available, as is "crepuscular." Grab 'em quick, before someone else does!

    You guys (JayT and Unkept) should make sure you read the rules we have around here, then jump into the deep end with the rest of us.

    Killbill is right: you are not alone. Obsidian_cicatrix is also right: we all get doubts. Browse around the forum here and you'll find many threads started by people in the same boat you're in, and the issues all come pouring out and get thoroughly discussed and beaten to death there, and everyone comes up feeling a little more inspired and a little less lonely. It's all good!

    Unkept has a great idea:
    John Steinbeck did just that when he wrote East of Eden, and his journal was eventually published as Journal of a Novel. It's a wonderful read, and a rare glimpse into the mind and soul of an artist in the midst of creation. I sometimes keep a journal, too, when my writing isn't going well. Mine isn't very well organized, but I find the act of putting words down on paper (especially handwriting - it works better for me than typing into a computer) is inspiring in and of itself, and helps me work my way out of blocks, problems, lazinesses, and all the rest of the things that get in the way of writing.

    In any case, you'll find a ton of great advice, empathy, sympathy, and camaraderie here on this forum. Welcome, and good luck!
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
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  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was 11. In high school, I joined the school newspaper. Did the same in college. While in college, I decided I wanted to write novels. I also met my wife, and we were married after she graduated. But the job market in the mid-1970s was awful, so I had to go to graduate school. I decided to pursue a career in teaching at the college level (which would allow lots of time for writing). Got half way through my PhD working a job I hated, bought a house, and realized that college faculties were cutting, not hiring. So I chucked the doctorate and went for my MBA, and started a career in corporate accounting, later moving on to taxation. Meanwhile, we had two kids. Both were born with developmental disabilities. Thoughts of novel writing were again put on hold because any writing I was doing was for advocacy (and I did a lot of that).

    And then a funny thing happened. Two characters - Kate and Joe - popped into my head who I thought might fit into the historical novel I'd been planning to write (and had researched on and off in my spare time since the early days of my marriage), but I envisioned them in the later part of the story. Still, they wouldn't go away, so I just started to write about them, a little at a time, just to see where it might lead. A few years later, it had led to a 400,000+ word novel (I eventually cut it down to 140,000). It wasn't very good. Certainly not good enough to be published. But it was a valuable learning experience, as were the four that followed it.

    I am now working on a novel that I firmly believe might be good enough to be published. I work for the government, now, which is much better than a corporation, and I will be retiring in a couple of years and be able to devote much more time to my writing. But the point is, nothing would ever have happened if I'd convinced myself not to write about Kate and Joe.

    Life happens. Can't avoid it. There will be twists and turns, calamities and joy, promotions, firings, new jobs, natural disasters and oh-shit-I-can't-believe-this-happened-to-us moments, good and bad. In another thread, someone posted that they had read where some writer said that you have to do your creative work first. Well, with a family, that's pretty damned selfish. I couldn't do it. Most of us can't. So, we adapt. We sleep less, forego some frivolous activities and carve out our creative time from that. It's hard. But...

    "It's supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it. The hard part is what makes it great." - Jimmy Dugan in "A League of Their Own".

    Best of luck, and keep plugging away.
     
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  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This reminded me of the great quote from William Faulkner:

    "The writer's only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is worth any number of old ladies."

    Do I agree with Faulkner? Hell no. Like Ed, I'm not that selfish. Still, Faulkner did write a highly-regarded bunch of novels and win the Nobel Prize, and I haven't published anything yet ...
     
  11. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi JayT

    With a young family to provide for - you have, new found, responsibilities. Your life at present, I imagine to be quite hectic, so maybe it is understandable that the words don't flow for you the way they once did.

    Here's a tip from the accomplished writer, the one and only, Mae West;
    'Keep a diary and one day it will keep you!'

    ...with two young children around, I'm sure you're days are quite eventful and amusing; your children's first words, first tooth, first step, the first time they said 'daddy' - it's all happening and one day you will have the time to reflect and put pen to paper.
     
  12. ladybird
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    ladybird Contributing Member

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    Hi JT,

    If you really want to write you will find time to do so. I had three children and ran a successful business from home - it menat I never had "me" time becuase my business was me. What I'm trying to say, albiet not very eloquently, is if you really want to do something, as I did, you WILL find the time. Even if it's only for 30 mins a day. Keep a note book with you at all times and write down your ideas. Please don't let them wither and die for lack of time.

    Be inspired and write :)

    LB
     
  13. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    You know what I do when I feel my tank is empty? I go to the one place that makes me love life more than anything, or two places in my case, one being an all-you-can-eat buffet and the other: the toilet.

    Just go to that place(s) and start writing, scribbling, etc, but whatever you do - make an input.
     
  14. Unkept
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    Unkept New Member

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    Thank you very much for saying this, it helps cement what I'm doing and I'm sure it will help to keep me going!

    I've been lurking, but I'll re-read the rules once more and attempt to participate here more often. I've gotten in more journal and content material today, and it's been fun!

    Lot's of positive feedback from this, and my other active communities.

    We should all surround ourselves in such supportive communities, there is no use in being alone in this endeavor.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2013
  15. JayT
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    JayT New Member

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    Wow! I began this thread to express my frustrations at not being able to find the words to start writing again. Now, I cannot find the words to thank each of you in turn who have took the time to respond. Your words of wisdom have really encouraged me to get started. Beginning this journey seemed a little daunting, I now realise that, no matter how small, each step is one step closer.

    Thank you all so very much. Each of you have really helped inspire me, and it has finally hit home to me that this is possible. No matter how long it takes me, no matter how frustrating it may get, I feel more determined than ever to get started.

    I will be sure to return and keep you updated on my progress.

    All the very best.
     
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