1. daisydaisy
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    daisydaisy Member

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    Can't write, won't write

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by daisydaisy, Jun 1, 2008.

    Hi All,

    I have a problem. I've been writing, on and off, since I was a child, and I've always loved it. A couple of years ago, I had some personal stuff which got in the way, so although I still wrote, I wrote much less. Still, I managed to get 2 short stories down, and I have recently sent those off to some online magazines in the hope they will like them. I made the decisiona bout that time that I would try and get back into writing regularly, and so I made a promise to myself that I would sit down every evening and write one page. I thought that would be a fairlt easy start - I used to write a few pages at a time and not even think about it. Only now, it's really, really hard. It's not that the ideas aren't there, it's just that I can't get the words down. Last night, it took me almost an hour to write half a page, and this is becoming typical. What's going through my mind as I write is "this is terrible/rubbish/makes no sense whatsoever!", but if I leave it alone for a while then read it back, it really isn't that bad. Not great, but workable. So how do I get my confidence back? How do I establish a routine where the work doesn't feel like such a torture?? Any advice would be apreciated!!
     
  2. garza33
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    garza33 Active Member

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    I've never had the problem of not being able to write, but here is an exercise I go through three or four times a year as a sort of mental housekeeping. For me this is in addition to my other writing. For you I would suggest you stop any other writing and just do this. It should help clear out whatever is blocking your mind's pipes and give you some fresh ideas.

    Freewrite every night for half an hour. Don't pay attention to what you write. Don't look at spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Put down on paper whatever comes into your head. Don't read it back until you have a week's worth. Then go through and pick out the little nuggets of gold that are bound to be there. Don't worry about whether they tie together, and don't worry yet about the mechanics of spelling and such. Use the best bits that you find as story starters.

    The easiest way to collect from pages of freewrite is to divide your screen. I do not use a word processor for writing but only for final editing. I use only text editors for writing, Notepad if I'm using a Windows machine or Vi if I'm using Linux. Run the text editor twice so you have what looks like two sheets of paper on the screen side by side. Put all you have written over the past week on one side. As you go through it, copy and paste the good bits to the other side. Do not lose anything. Keep it all. Save the collection of good bits as a separate file, and use what's there as the yeast for getting the idea dough to rise. I'm always surprised and delighted whenever I do this, and you will be too. You should find that after this exercise you can sit down and write as well as you ever did, perhaps better.
     
  3. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    Above sounds good, but I think maybe the problem is that your forcing yourself to write. Sometimes you just have to admit that your not going to be able to do anything. I have days when I've sat down thinking 'right, today I'm going to finish this chapter', and then I write a single line and give up!

    This is just my personal opinion, but I dont think setting a time to write is a good idea. People work in different ways, I know, but I usually find that there are days when I only write a paragraph, and days when I write a whole chapter. Maybe the thing to do would be to take a break from writing altogether, and wait until you feel compelled to write, not forced to.

    But that's just me. Hope you solve your problem!
     
  4. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    I once wrote by using a schedule, but I knew that I HAD to write and that I'd feel guilty if I didn't. This actually made my writing worse. I agree with Rewan, try not to force yourself to write. Or you could set a very small target, such as a paragraph, so that writing each night doesn't strike you as such a chore.
     
  5. daisydaisy
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    daisydaisy Member

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    I see what you're both saying, in setting a time to write every day, I'm making it a chore rather than something I enjoy doing. That makes sense. The problem with that, though, is that if I wait until I feel inspired to write, my output will be so low that I might never get any of my work finished. Surely it's better to write something regularly, than nothing at all??

    Garza - I like your idea for creative freewriting. Might have to give that a go and see what happens.
     
  6. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I'm the kind of person who HAS to set aside a certain time every day to write, else I'll get nothing done, so I see your dilemma in that. The thing is, it doesn't feel like a chore to me, so it's not something that's "forced."

    Maybe you need to try working on something that nobody else will ever see? Journal entries, personal observations, unsent letters, some such? You're worrying so much that your work will suck, it sounds like you intend the world to eventually see it and that holds you back. (I know ALL ABOUT that too...still don't know a way around the feelings, though they don't stop me from writing.) Perhaps if you worked on something that has every right to suck, it won't be as stressful to write it?

    And then maybe after a while, if that gets easy, writing things that you DO intend people to see will start to come easier...not sure, but it's a thought.

    You can also try writing at different times in the day. Still set aside a period of time to write, yes, but alter it now and then.
     
  7. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    'Surely it's better to write something regularly, than nothing at all??'- It depends what it is, I suppose. The above sounds good to me, but as I said, it should be something you want to do, not feel the need to do. Writing is all about expressing yourself, and I personally dont think you can force yourself to express yourself. Ahh well, that's just my opinion anyway!
     
  8. garza33
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    garza33 Active Member

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    Scribe Rewan - I have to disagree with your comment that, 'Writing is all about expressing yourself...' I've had 50+ years of writing as a career and very little of it had anything at all to do with expressing myself. Writing is about communicating, whether facts or ideas, and nothing to do with self expression. I have taken to writing short opinion pieces (two minutes at the end of the news) for a local radio station, and even those have little to do with self expression.
     
  9. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    I think the amount of expression in your writing depends on whether you write non-ficition or ficition, what you're trying to put across, and your intentions before beginning to write.
    I believe that in ficition you often express yourself through your writing without ever realising you're doing it.
     
  10. Wet Weekend
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    Wet Weekend New Member

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    I have a similar problem to you, I have stuff I have done but I've always been too scared to show anyone for fear of it and consequently me being rejected...Being on this site has shown my that people are not going to be outright harsh when advising you on your work, so I will keep trying...hopefully you will see that there are plenty of people wanting to help you with your problem too, I know I will :)
     
  11. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    garza33- ok, sorry. I meant novels/ stories etc, and I also meant for me personally, although reading it again it sounds like a generalisation. I did think however that a lot of people who write fiction would agree with me, but as I said, it's only my opinion.
     
  12. garza33
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    garza33 Active Member

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    Lucy E - Fiction is a whole different animal, and you are probably correct. I've just recently written two short stories, my first venture into fiction after all these years. The introduction to one is posted here, and I plan to put the other one into the short story competition.

    As for why anyone writes, for me that's easy. To make a living. It's the easiest way I know of to live a good life without working and without breaking the law. There is little effort needed to string a few thousand words together. Of course, you first must go out there and find something to write about, but that's the fun part. And don't think that 'out there' must mean some far distant place. 'Out there' can be down the street in your home town. That's where it all starts. If you can put together an interesting article about the Northside Ladies Garden Club, you can make a good living writing.
     
  13. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    I have a set time to write every day -- from sunrise, until I meet my quota of pages. But, then for me it's a matter of not liking the look of the local homeless shelters.
     
  14. Metanoia
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    Free-association, take a walk, don't focus on writing something amazing- write "just words"...
     
  15. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    I'm in the same stuck spot that daisydaisy's in. I've written more than 400,000 words in my life, but stopped writing regularly in tenth grade when the homework piled up. Now I have trouble making myself write - and like daisydaisy, I frequently think "This is terrible" when I do write, then I come back later and realize that it actually isn't bad. Heck, most of you have seen bits of my writing; you know that I'm fair-to-middling, if not exactly stellar.

    My solution, since I'm in college, has been to take writing classes and to challenge myself to write more. I've written a few good, medium-length things (eight to fifteen double-spaced pages) as a result of the class, and I have even more story ideas and plots that I've worked out.

    Actually, does anyone here have advice for someone who has too many stories and plots worked out? It's gotten to the point where I sometimes feel like if I don't write something NOW, I'll lose it under the other neat ideas I've concocted. Or should I just make a list of stories to write and go through the list?

    Any advice would be appreciated. I'm keeping this post under the "can't write, won't write" thread because it seems that I'm in a very similar situation to that of daisydaisy, the thread starter.
     
  16. daisydaisy
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    daisydaisy Member

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    Thanks all of you for your generous responses. I think that maybe, as some of you have said, I'm putting too much pressure on myself to 'write something good', when I should be enjoying what I'm doing. Since I wrote my original post, I have picked up the journal I used to keep quite regularly, and written down my feelings about writing and compared that to how I used to feel about writing. I enjoyed it more when I wrote for fun, and didn't take it so seriously. So I think I need to try and get back to that. Writing that Journal entry, and thinking about what you lot have said, has helped a lot, so thanks again!
     
  17. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    'Actually, does anyone here have advice for someone who has too many stories and plots worked out? It's gotten to the point where I sometimes feel like if I don't write something NOW, I'll lose it under the other neat ideas I've concocted. Or should I just make a list of stories to write and go through the list?'-

    could you combine elements of some of the stories and plots together, to create fewer, but more substantial stories? I'm sure they don't lack substance as they are, but you might find that some twists, or backstory, or situations from one story could be put into another one to make one more complex one. That might work, but if it does I doubt it would be useful for many of your ideas. But still, it might be worth a try!
     
  18. Shrink-182
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    Shrink-182 New Member

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    This is one of the Reasons why i joined this site, i mean you can post what you like and you'll be critisized constructively, many people are still supportive and in any case, i like to use Music to get back my inspiration, try it if you like. Try reading younger books for a richer description and larger imagination, i always try to get myself in the mind of a younger kid when i'm lacking innovation. good luck anyways =]
     

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