1. Jade
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    Jade Active Member

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    Critical

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Jade, Jun 20, 2008.

    I'm not sure if this is the right forum, but oh well, sorry if it isn't.

    Anyway, I was wondering if any other writers had the same problem as me and have any suggestions.

    I'm going through a stage of being really critical of my own work. I read it and think that it's rubbish. Like I can find fault with every and any sentence I write, even if other people have said that they are fine. It's getting to the stage where I can't write anything new, and I'm just going through the old, picking at it and finding fault.

    I don't want to write anything new because I don't see the point until I can make sure that it is good.

    So, am I going crazy or is there anyone else who has ever had this problem?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's very common. Elizabeth Lyon writes about this near the very beginning of her book, Manuscript Makeover. You need to tell your inner critic to shut the hell up.

    It's one thing to listen to your inner voice when it has constructive ideas for improving a passage, although even that can paralyze you if you get too hung up on one particular section.

    But there is no benefit in listening to purely derogatory thoughts, other than to see if you can recognize an external source. It's pure insecurity, which may have been fostered by people in your life.

    Give it the boot, ruthlessly.
     
  3. ValianceInEnd
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    ValianceInEnd Active Member

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    As always, Cog pretty much answered it perfectly.
     
  4. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I think almost every writer has been through a stage like this.

    I feel it every time I write, though not for the same reasons. I actually think I write pretty well. The thing is, I don't think OTHER people think I write well. And seeing as I write largely to entertain people, that nagging voice is always there. "Why write this crap? Nobody will like it. I'm a lousy writer." Etc. etc. etc.

    The only advice I have is to keep writing despite it. There's really nothing else you can do. Maybe a point will come when it's not quite as bad. Some days aren't as bad as others. And if you keep writing, you keep learning and improving, so maybe you really WILL get better. It's often hard to be objective, though.
     
  5. Night
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    Night Member

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    I have this problem a lot. I'm somewhat suffering from it now, in fact. Writing through it can be really difficult, but I suggest that maybe you sit yourself down and write whatever comes to mind. Try to do a decent job and be mindful of what you're doing, but don't criticize yourself. I would just consider it a controlled mind dump. Even if it really does suck in the end, then just remember that it's a mind dump and that you aren't trying to do your very best. However, you may find that it isn't bad at all because you let your mind work without being so constricted with criticism. I don't know how much it might help other people, but that's what helps me.
     
  6. Marloy
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    Marloy Contributing Member

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    I get the same problem - all the time. I'll write a five-paragraph passage, look it back over, and nitpick at everything. I'm always telling myself, "A real author wouldn't write that" or "You'll never get that published". Then I'll go and look at a book that has been published and tell myself to write like them, because they obviously have a clue what they're doing.

    Then I go back to write, forcing myself to write like Robert Frost or something. It doesn't work, or I don't sound like I want to, and this will usually all end in a case of writer's block. It is the biggest problem I deal with when writing. Soon the only thing I do is sit there, under my own pressure, critiquing every word I jot down (or type).

    And this is extremely frustrating to me because I can't write unless unless I am enjoying it and if I am I am not likely to for long. Like most would say to you - just write. There are really no hypnotizing methods I know of. I always hate to hear that, because it doesn't always help, but that's the only thing it can really come out to in the end.
     
  7. Sato Ayako
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    Sato Ayako Contributing Member

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    You're critical about your work? Good. People may have different opinions, but I believe self-realization and critique is an important part of growing as a writer. From personal experience, I've found those who aren't at least to some extent critical of their work don't write as well. Most writers who try to improve reach this stage. I did. Some writers learn to deal with it fairly quickly, or others are like me and it takes several years.

    The idea is to keep that inner critic, but learn when to shut him up. When is it time to shut him up? During actual writing time. After you're done proofreading and improving a piece. Once you've submitted it. Then you have to learn how to make your critic take it easier on you.

    That's not a simple thing to do because you see, in order to make the critic go easier on you, you have to develop some self-confidence in your writing. It takes time. If you're persistent and work hard at it, you'll be able to do it. This is why it can take years to learn how to work with your inner critic. Inner critique is a delicate balance between ego and humility.

    But above all, never allow the inner voice to insult you or your work. So instead of:

    "This story is so stupid. You're stupid. What were you thinking?"

    Squash that and force it to find something specific:

    "You do realize that nobody would jump in a fire just for a couple of pennies, right?"
     
  8. Jade
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    Jade Active Member

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    Thank you all, some very useful advice :)

    It is helpful sometimes, I agree Sato Ayako, because there it's bad when a writer overestimates their own work by a great degree. I'm trying to build confidence. I plan to post some work on here to get other opinions than my own, and hopefully some useful criticism.

    I'll try to silence it :p Yesterday I actually managed to write a whole paragraph before I was interrupted.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The Inner Chorus

    The Inner Biatch: "You couldn't write an interesting paragraph is someone fed it to you on a teleprompter!"
    This person needs to shut the hell up.

    The Inner Editor: "You just used the same adjective three times in two sentences."
    Listen to this person, and encourage him or her to look ever deeper.

    The Inner Sycophant: "Man, you are laying down gold, here! You will be the next Hemingway!"
    Listen only until you need a shot of insulin. A little self-affirmation helps motivate you, but make sure your head still fits through the door.

    The Inner Whiner: "We've been at this forever. I'm tired, I have a headache, and I want to watch Deal or No Deal. Call it a night already."
    You shouldn't listen right away, but do pay attention to whether you've been at it to the point where you just aren't functioning effectively.

    The Inner Product Manager: "If we can crank out another ten thousand words this week, we can toss this baby in the mail to our publisher and start making some bucks."
    This voice may help motivate you to push yourself, but don't yield to the pressure to send out your manuscript before you have given it your best shot at copyediting and revision. Never send out anything that shows the flaws you can recognize. Ideally, no one but yourself should ever see the warst and open sores.
     
  10. Conall
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    Conall New Member

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    :eek: I think I must have a multiple personality disorder, as i have every one of those guys inside my head :eek:

    Jade, you're most definitely not alone in feeling like nothing you write is any good, I'm going through it myself at the moment. I agree with what others have said, we need to find some way of switching off/ignoring the critical side of ourselves... at least until we come to edit what we've written.
     
  11. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like this list, but for me it's incomplete. I also struggle with:

    The Inner Moron: This guy sabotages my work with clichés, bad timing, ytpos and lousy jokes.

    The Inner Pit Bull: Grabs onto a concept and just won't let go, even if the idea stinks!

    The Inner Plumber: Attempts to flush all my best ideas. Then, wants compensation for the help!

    The Inner Child: BUT I WANT IT MY WAY!

    The Inner Tube: Always challenging my ideas to "float".


    Seriously, there is nothing more difficult for me in writing than getting past my own inhibitions and compulsivity. Yes, I count the steps when I climb a new set of stairs for the first time! How's that for compulsive?

    The good news is, I have learned to turn some personality obstacles to my advantage. For example, I let my OCS run wild this weekend and completed the final edit on a 135,000 word MS in two days. Its great for the book but tough on the marriage. LOL

    .....NaCl
     
  12. ugu
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    ugu Member

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    On a somewhat related note, I recently found this in a rant community I frequent:

    The ranter wasn't talking about me, but I felt that she might as well have. I certainly haven't been feeling good about my writing since.
     
  13. Conall
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    Conall New Member

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    No, no, no... don't ever, ever, ever listen to someone who posts crap like that on a story. What that person wrote is tantamount to bullying because he/she is critising the author and not the piece.

    Those comments were neither constructive nor helpful. It is a prime example of a very poorly thought out review. In fact I wouldn't even call it a review, more like a personal insult.

    Absolutely no one has the right to say to anyone that they should give up writing. There is nothing wrong with enjoying writing and creating stories. It doesn't matter whether the writing is bad or not, no one has the right to take away something that you enjoy doing.

    I used to be a moderator on another writing site and they would not have tolerated such comments like that by anyone.
     
  14. Rebekkamaria
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    Rebekkamaria Senior Member

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    My inner critic often says: "This is just beyond bad. You're never going to be a writer. You can't do it. You are not native." Blah, blah, bla...

    But the thing is, I have a stronger voice inside me that says all the time: "Oh, you can listen to him (my inner critic is a man or a boy... depending on the day), but don take him too seriously. You see, you've come so far already. Did you hear your husband yesterday. He said you've worked hard for this. Don't you dare to give up now. You can do it."

    I've learned to listen to that voice. She's very strong and unyielding. :) She's not the source of my ideas, but whenever I feel down and insecure, she stands up and comes to my rescue. :D

    And then I can write again. I also have a deal with myself: "Write, write, write. Don't let the critic trick you now. When you need to listen to him, do it then, but don't listen to him while you're writing. Just enjoy it!"

    Hmm... and these aren't actual voices in my head. *laughs*
     
  15. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    Did you do this on purpose? lol
     
  16. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Always remember what Aussie fantisy writer Ian irvine said, the quality is NOT in the amount of thought you put into the plot creation stage, it's in the REDRAFTING, and working and working on your story until it is perfect.
     
  17. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Quote:
    Originally Posted by NaCl
    The Inner Moron: This guy sabotages my work with clichés, bad timing, ytpos and lousy jokes."


    "Did you do this on purpose? lol"


    Of course...I guess it was another "lousy joke"! LOL

    ps. I saw a study once that said you can reverse the first two letters or the last two letters of any word and the human mind will still read the word correctly. I took advantage of that simple fact with "ytpos". I wonder if our "inner editors" are responsible for correcting such typos? Hmmmmmmmmmm?
     
  18. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    i would say they are.
     
  19. wildflower
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    wildflower Member

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    Woops - I never even noticed there was a typo until Emily pointed that out. Me bad.

    Unfortunately I have an inner moron too - I just feed her chocolate to make her shut the hell up
     
  20. AuthoressM
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    AuthoressM Member

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    This happens to me a lot, but I think the best cure is when you get excited about an idea you have for a story. If it's something you are passionate about, then it'll clearly show in your writing.

    And no one's perfect. Your writing is never going to be perfect if you are the only one proof-reading it, you know?

    But as everyone else, I believe, has been pointing out - listen to some of the inner voices - the ones who know about grammar, especially .:-D. Don't go crazy though. You'll ruin your muses.
     
  21. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm like that too. With the story I'm working on now, I'm so excited about it. And people reading have told me that my writing has improved since the beginning, when I wasn't so excited.
     

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