1. elynne
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    elynne Active Member

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    feeling low about my writing

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by elynne, Aug 21, 2014.

    I know, I haven't posted any writing here, but I'm not looking for reviews of my stuff specifically. I've been enthusiastically working on a project for the last couple of days, but I'm kind of stuck on it right now and suddenly overcome with feeling like--well, I know I'm not the only one who has occasional bouts of "what am I doing this is horrible nobody will like this it's a stupid concept I should just quit." how do you get past/through the lows? seek out praise? re-read previous praise? re-read previous writing? re-read Art and Fear? drink heavily?
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I can only speak for myself. I view my writing as not quite good enough but getting better every week. So it doesn't bother me it's not perfect as long as I'm learning.
     
  3. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    If I can honestly tell myself something is crap then it probably is. I really have to love a scene that I'm writing for it to really come off the page, but that usually comes after weeks of staring at a blank page or force typing random letters.

    But then there's still the difference between knowing when you're writing bad and having a negative attitude towards everything you write. I guess strength lies in being able to differentiate the two.

    So yeah, my method is to slug through words until I find a scene I can be passionate about, but I don't get there without the slugging.
     
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  4. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Time heals most wounds and doubt.
     
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  5. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I second what @GingerCoffee says. Don't get me wrong; I do have days where I read what I've written and cringe but, as clueless I was I was to start with, I shouldn't be too hard on myself. Praise is all very well but one doesn't learn as much from it as one does from insightful critique.

    Writing doesn't come easily to me—it's certainly not the most obvious of my talents—but I'm starting to get the impression it's the constant struggle to improve and make headway that I find appealing. The things I'm good at I seem to achieve with little effort, yet the feeling of finishing an art project, or learning a particularly difficult piece of music does not remotely compare with the feeling of reading back a paragraph and being happy with it.

    As for what I do when I hit a bad rut? I chill out and do something else for a while, rather than get myself annoyed over it. Time has proven that writing is something I will always come back to. I'm in no hurry, so I can afford to take little detours now and then.
     
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  6. elynne
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    elynne Active Member

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    obsidian_cicatrix --hmm, yes, I think that's basically what I was asking, and that's probably the best solution for me, too--to just go do something else for a while.

    I've had a depressive disorder for almost my entire life, as early as grade school, and I've only recently managed to push it into remission a few years ago. one of the ways I dealt with being depressed was to write. I haven't had a depressive episode lasting longer than a day in two years, but I'm still trying to root out and change the bad thought patterns and negative emotional spirals that still trip me up, and sometimes keep me from getting stuff done. I've spent my entire life beating myself with the stick of self-hatred, and I'm still trying to learn how to reward myself with the carrot of self-liking, which is surprisingly difficult.

    one of the problems with being overly critical of my writing is that I really have no idea what I write that's good, and what isn't. I have no sense of self-editing. virtually everything I've posted to AO3 is basically a first draft, with minor tweaks, because once I've written something, either it's good enough to go, or it's trash and I should just stop writing altogether because ANGST. one of the things I'm really hoping to learn from this forum is how to constructively criticize my own writing.

    thank you all for your responses! :)
     
  7. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I'm 8 years into a 60k novel because 7 years ago I knew it wasn't good enough, and it still isn't. But it's getting there.
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Well that makes me feel better about the slow progress I'm making, @Selbbin. November will mark my third year. But it needs to be right, not just finished. :)
     
  9. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    No one is waiting for us to finish our work. We may as well do the best we can and be satisfied.
     
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  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I often get the sense that the scene, or even the whole story, that I'm working on sucks. Not because the idea is bad, but because the prose is lame. Maybe the POV should be different. Maybe the tone should be different. I have to work that out.

    What I do then is focus on just one paragraph (I don't get down to sentence level with this generally). I'll tell myself, "This paragraph sucks. I will now make it unsuck before I do anything else." This doesn't necessarily fix the problem I started with, but it fixes a problem, and that's a start. I pour all my effort into making myself a good paragraph, and then I tell myself, "All right. I've proven I can write one decent paragraph. Now it's time to build on that." And away I go.

    It's kind of amazing how well that works. Once you get a good paragraph, a cornerstone, you can build anything.
     
  11. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Every now and then I also feel like I suck horribly, like whatever I write is stale, bland, and boring. That's when I try to find some angle, usually looking inside instead of out; what would I feel and experience if I was the character? I don't always get any big epiphanies, but as long as I find that angle, that something that makes the scene click, it's enough. I know I'll return to it a million times over the course of the myriad of rereads and edits we do with @KaTrian, so I know it'll get better the next time around or the one after that etc. Sooner or later we'll figure out the scene.

    It probably helps that I really trust our vision. I believe the stories really are good, but they just need a shitload of work so we can sculpt off the useless junk and only leave the good stuff. We save old versions into a separate file, so we can always go back and look at what the story used to be (mostly for research purposes). That's usually a confidence booster 'cause back when we started it we sucked horribly. We're not great yet by any standard, but old versions are one good way to see your development; all of a sudden you can spot mistakes and bad decisions that flew under your radar only six months ago, not to mention a year or a few. When you see your development clearly like that, it gives hope, it tells you all the hard work you put in really does help, it makes you better day by day. We just don't usually see our development because it happens pretty slowly.
    Anyway, hope you get back into it soon.

    PS. Cool avatar, @elynne. Bunnies, hares etc. are badass. :cool:
     
  12. JamesBrown
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    JamesBrown Active Member

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    I like to imagine all the unpublished manuscripts ever written get sent off to North Korea to be used as toilet paper. You need to be at peace with the notion that the work you slaved over for years will only ever be read by someone's arse, before being smothered in shit and flushed down the toilet.

    I find this mentality helps cope with self doubts.
     
  13. Amanda_Geisler
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    Amanda_Geisler Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I agree with all said above, except @JamesBrown's post that was very motivating.*raises an eyebrow*

    It is a great feeling to get reviews for a piece, getting lots of reviews telling what things need changing, then coming back and posting a revision and getting positive reviews. You can only learn from the mistakes of the past, that's the reason we make mistakes, to learn from them. Although some of us (meaning me) often repeat mistakes of the past. Writing is a long process that can never really be perfected, there is always room for improvement. So stop looking at how far you still have to go and instead start looking at how far you've come.
     
  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You really want to feel bad? Go into a big bookstore, look around you and think 'who in hell needs ANOTHER book...?!!!' :)

    Seriously, though ...your two best weapons are time and other people.

    If you're feeling dissatisfied with your writing on any given day, walk away. Return to the piece when you can look at it dispassionately, or when another idea strikes you for improvement. It's very important to finish what you start, but it's not important how long that might take when you're writing creatively to please yourself. This is not an assignment. It's a project YOU started, and only YOU can tell when it's finished, or when you're ready for other people to take a look at it.

    And once you find yourself in a frame of mind where you can take constructive critiques, put some of your writing up on the Workshop here (after fulfilling the requirements of making other critiques and posts, etc.)

    Be sure you're not emotionally fragile when you do this, if you suffer from depression. People will pick holes in your offering, and this is not an attack on you. The critique-givers are trying to help your story get even better.

    Pick a time when you won't see every response as an attempt to crush you or reflect negatively on your abilities as a writer. And also be careful you're not just seeking praise as validation of your right to exist.

    Like every other writer here, you WILL make mistakes. The Workshop is to help you see what mistakes you've made and how to correct them. A good critique makes you think about what you're writing, and more importantly, how it's being received.

    We're all at different stages of learning here on the Forum, but we all can read, and we can all give our reactions to what you've written. You can choose to accept or reject anything we say, but it's a toe in the water. And you might also discover strengths in your writing that you didn't know were there. And you will make friends, too. Guaranteed!

    Welcome to the forum!
     
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  15. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Take a long break from looking at what you have written or even thinking about what you have brainstormed.
     
  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    maybe write something else for a while. I stopped writing for about 4 months because I couldn't bring myself to edit anymore after working on the same damn project for 4 years. And my parents have no clue how writing works, so all they do is tell me to work harder, try harder, make it shorter, as if I'm not already trying hard enough, as if making it shorter would actually resolve the problem. They mean well - they wanna see me published too - but they have *no clue* how it works. If I wasn't trying hard, I wouldn't be still at it after 4 years.

    Anyway, really couldn't bring myself to do anymore - I'm half way through my first edit (of my 3rd or 4th draft which I rewrote from scratch) and once again, I've lost my steam. I keep starting and stopping these days because I'll find my enthusiasm for it for a few weeks, and then it'll just disappear abruptly and I can't stand to even look at the thing. I reread some parts of it a few weeks ago and my GOSH it's cheesy. It's good cheese if cheese is what you like - it's within an acceptable limit - but I hadn't wanted to write cheese. Hence it's a little discouraging cus now I'm like, to rewrite or not to rewrite?

    I'm fast resigning myself to the fact that this is simply a failed project. You know, everyone has that first novel they've never shown anyone.

    But I still wanted to write - I wanted to write freely like I haven't done in eons. So I started writing a merman romance and I loved it - got a few pages of that down. And then just under 4 weeks ago I started a collaboration, a dystopian romance, and I'm LOVING it. It thrills me just to be writing again, and writing what I'm good at. Turns out, I'm really not that good at writing action, but when it comes to emotional scenes, they pop - probably because I love writing them. The girl I'm working with is excellent at action and wacky ideas, so it's great. We only run into problems when I wanna write action or she wants to write emotional scenes - then we end up criticising each other and then we both feel crap for a few days... :rolleyes: lol. We're at 86k+ words and closing in on the climax and I'M SO EXCITED!! I've always been against collaborations and it's turning out to be great for ideas and motivation!
     
  17. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm sure all writers get this feeling regularly. For me, I've realised that all this pontificating, struggling, hothouse flower degree of requirements in order to write, is what makes or breaks the writer. Do I want to wallow in my misery every time I lose steam or do I want to write the damn thing? It's not the 'Odyssey' or 'Brothers Karamazov' or even the Bible , It's just a little story that's needs to be written. Write every day, whenever you catch yourself wallowing, give yourself a slap, make a cup of warm beverage and attack that damn scene. Repeat daily until first draft is finished. By the time you do that, hopefully you'll be able to spot errors in early chapters and editing teaches you to edit better.

    Successful authors write books in reasonable time, publish, write the next one and so on. Unsuccessful ones baby a story for decades, never finishing, until all they have left is a half-finished story, most likely a youthful indulgence that's become a monster somewhere along the way. If you can't finish one story in a couple of years, it means it's not a good story, or you don't know how to tell it. Choose another one and keep going. The goal is as much the idea and the writing as is the completion.
     
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  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    These "lows" only exist if you have unrealistic expectations about yourself. Getting published (from everything I've heard) is difficult. It's not something you should expect from yourself unless you deserve it. And if you think you deserve it, then there's no reason to be feeling low. Either way, life sort of takes care of itself. Write either because you enjoy it or because you and one other person believe in you (hopefully both), but if all you feel is anguish, there's always other things you could be doing.
     
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  19. NanashiNoProfile
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    NanashiNoProfile Member

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    If I'm writing a part and I'm starting to feel like it isn't moving along properly, or I'm getting stuck with too few (or too many ideas), then I'll start writing another chapter for another character or conjure up some more history to the world (mostly for my own benefit).

    Usually I then find that I develop lots of ideas for the chapter that is in the doldrums. I'll finish off the new piece and be raring to go by the time I am able to get back to the previous one.

    In other words, if you're writing a cool story then you'll probably have lots of ideas for the whole of it. If not, maybe blast out some ideas for something else and it'll soon start helping you out.

    I too have suffered from considerable depression in long bouts, and it sometimes comes back. However, I think I've been lucky in finding that writing helps to relieve it as I can just give my problems to someone else and then write out how they deal with it :)
     
  20. elynne
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    elynne Active Member

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    NanashiNoProfile --that's a good suggestion for me, I think; work on another part of the story, and try to get around the stuck bit from the other end, as it were. writing's always been my outlet from depression too, along with various other kinds of art--but writing's always been my primary focus. I think it'd be a good idea for me to re-read Art and Fear anyway, too--it's usually been helpful for me.

    T.Trian --thank you! it's from the cover of Watership Down, my favorite book of all time, and if you've never read it and you like rabbits then READ IT, TRUST ME, there's many reasons it's a classic. :)
     
  21. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    Should have done a poll. I'm voting for both of these options. But then again don't listen to me I have a mental illness and am sitting in a deep low myself tonight. There are times when I feel overwhelmed by life, it's quite often actually. I wonder if I will ever have the skills necessary to just make it through the day. In those moments I usually cry myself to sleep and wait for the upswing.

    Maybe take a breather from it. Focus on something else and be kind to yourself.
     
  22. elynne
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    elynne Active Member

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    PensiveQuill thank you--it comes and goes. I went looking for Art and Fear, but can't find it--it's packed away in one of the boxes that's currently sitting in the computer room closet because we don't have enough bookshelves. :p I've read it several times anyway, so I mostly remember what the advice was. ;)
     
  23. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm in this same position right now and didn't know how to get out either... So thanks everyone for the suggestions!
     
  24. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    I'm not committing any great moral wrong by making shitty writing. Once I understood that, the whole process became a lot less depressing and a lot more productive.
     

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