1. Enslaved
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    Enslaved New Member

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    getting frustrated after reading great books with similar themes

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Enslaved, Feb 9, 2009.

    Hey everyone,

    very informative forum and really helpful community! Though i didn't find anything about my following problem, so yeah, here it is :p

    Does anyone know this feeling when you read a really good book and you just lose every motivation to write yourself because your writing style, ideas, plot, characters, everything just seems so dull and shallow in comparison?

    Right now i'm trying to write a somewhat monumental novel, well at least thats what i wanted it to be. Also i'm reading Ken Folletts World Without End and i really started to HATE my writing style because of that book, every single word i type seems misplaced, every plot twist i try to create seems uninspired, it seems that i have no talent in writing at all.

    Don't get me wrong, i love writing, it's just HOW i write...it feels so terribly wrong right now.

    Maybe i should just stop reading until im finished with my novel? But i love reading :(
    Did anyone ever went through this stage and came back strong? If so, what did you do to get back a little confidence in your writing?
     
  2. Slippery
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    Slippery Contributing Member

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    Whatever you do, you can't stop reading. One of my professors told us about that: You don't tell a good writer by what they've written, but what they've read.

    They say you are your own worst critic. As the one who saw all the little pieces come together, you will by default never love your writing as much as you would have if you had read it without having written it.

    Hating your writing is a good thing, because it means that you see room for improvement, and thus can improve. There is always room for improvement, and so it seems right to say that those who don't hate their writing still write bad, but they are hopeless because they don't know it.

    You will write things that you love, but you will never write something that you can't think of alterations to make therein. Learn when to tie it off at the ends and let it fly.

    If you hate your writing, remember that its easier to edit something that already exists than to write something perfect on the first go. I've personally heard authors mention "rewrites," in a context that suggests at least 3 is standard. This leads me to believe that even Ken Follett first wrote something he hated, and then rewrote it several times until it became the story you now love. Maybe you just have to write the stuff you hate first, and then make it better the next time around.
     
  3. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're also not Ken Folletts, and (I'm guessing) less experienced than he was when he wrote the book you are reading, so it's unfair to expect you to be like him. Expect yourself to be you, nothing more. It's fine to be your own worst critic, but wait until you've finished the story to do it or you'll never get anything done. I've heard one of the reasons it took Tolkien so long to write The Lord of the Rings is because he kept starting over. Who wants to spend twelve years on one book?
     
  4. Flozzie
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    Flozzie Active Member

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    I know the feeling of not being good enough. That happens to me all the time when I read. I try not to let it disencourage me though. Instead I try to gather ideas and inspiration when I come across something I like.
     
  5. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Maybe I'm just strange. I never get discouraged by how "great" someone else's writing is compared to my own. I don't envy others' writing styles because they're not MY styles. (I envy their success, yes, but success depends on a whole lot more than style.) It's just apples and oranges to me. It's nice that somebody else writes so well but that's not MY work so why care? And I'm so close to my characters and plots that I simply couldn't get uninspired by comparing them to other people's work. It's like, somebody else's kid might be on the honor roll and mine is a C student, yeah, but I still love my kid more because they're mine and I brought them into the world and raised them. Screw that other kid. My kid has their own qualities.

    I realize that's not very helpful, but I wouldn't advocate not reading, just altering your mindset if possible. Other people's writing is not YOUR writing. If you're truly passionate about YOUR writing you should be able to make it as good as theirs, at least in your mind. You do your work a disservice by letting other people's work discourage you.

    Instead of comparing your writing to published writing (which is really not a good example of the HUGE amount of writing in the world), why not try comparing your writing to all that writing out there that never gets done because the writers lost their inspiration...? There's a WHOLE LOT MORE of that out there. Aim to be better than that. Then, when your story is DONE, you can think about published writing.

    Is it really so fair to compare a work in progress to published works that have been polished to a shine? Most published writing had a TON of hard work put into it. Yours isn't even finished yet and already you're doubting it?
     
  6. Enslaved
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    Enslaved New Member

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    thanks for the answers, i guess you're all right.

    I'll put my main focus on finishing the novel, then i can still work it over as often as i want until i'm somewhat satisfied with the writing as a whole.

    Oh, and that child comment was actually quite helpful, it really got me to think about the whole thing differently!
     
  7. Slippery
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    Slippery Contributing Member

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    One of mine will be my life's work. It'll take me at least fifty!
     
  8. dthomas
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    I agree with the above postings - keep reading the book. Then read a book with a different theme and style of writing, then read something you normally wouldn't, etc. The more writing styles you come across - and the more you write yourself - the better - it can only benefit your own style. Eventually you will find a good rhythm to your writing and style and instead of feeling awkward and uninspired you will realize that you are writing something that only you could write.
    That's the beauty of writing, that you have the opportunity to always adapt your style/approach so that you develop a recognizable writing "voice." Good luck.
     
  9. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    In writing, as in life, there are two ways to look at somebody who does something better than you.

    1. "I'll never be that good, so why try. Now please pass the chips."
    2. "I'm not that good now, but I'll keep working till I am. Now please pass the chips."
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    As long as you remain chipper.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    a mother's [and writing mentor's] advice...

    you may be trying to fly before you've learned to walk really well... starting out trying to scale the writer's 'everest' before you've conquered a few hills is usually not a good idea, if you want to write at a professional level...

    so, why don't you perfect your practice of the writer's art on shorter works first, so that when you do make your attempt to reach that lofty peak, you'll be on sounder footing skill-wise?... then you won't feel so inadequate...


    love and hugs, maia
     
  12. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    just saying what has probably already been said. Keep reading, it may seem painful, but reading a good book is a great learning curve, it forces you to critic your own work. Never give up on writing because of a good book, remember, theirs is a finished article and yours is a work in progress. Get the basics down and a strong plot, then work on descriptions and more inventive ideas.
     
  13. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I know I will never be Hemmingway, Mark Twain, Orson Scott Card, or many of the other great writers, and I doubt I will ever meet someone online or offline that will be either. Just like we only get a few great sapranos each generation, we get a few great authors.

    However, can you write something as publishable as other published works? Of course you can. But read some books on writing for encouragement. Many of the bestselling authors talk about how crappy their first few books were, and how they laugh at the idea they thought they were publishable. Nicholas Sparks is an example.
     
  14. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the best way to deal with that is to analyze his writing style; what do you like about it? I'm not saying to copy it, but if you find that his way with dialogue is what has you envious, see how he pieces his phrases together, study it. Then try to take that inspiration and integrate it into your own work. :)

    As for the title question, I definitely sympathize. I often feel I have a really fantastic story line --and then, what do you know? Someone thought of it too and published it first. :( What I do with that challenge is to, of course alter it if it's just too similar, but to keep chuggin' along. If the story is similar, I find the easiest way to make the story different is to tweak the theme. If they both happen to have an underlying theme of perserverance (I made that purposely a broad theme), I'll of course keep that idea in my own work --I did think of it, after all, and I see no reason to change it, but I'll add in another factor. It's one of the struggles of being a writer, but there's no satisfaction in your work unless you worked hard for it! :)
     
  15. ManicParroT
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    I feel for the OP, I really do.

    I'm reading Stephen Donaldson, and I know perfectly well that my best writing isn't a patch on his. Just his development of character is so much better than anything I can do, it makes me ill thinking about it.

    Gene Wolfe is another author who makes me flinch at the obvious disparity between what I can do, and what he can do. It's like putting a Gothic cathedral next to a dog house. A cheap doghouse, made of plastic in China, with lead paint.

    Having said all that, reading Eragon cheers me right the hell up. I know my stuff is better than that rubbish, even if it isn't terribly good.

    I recall reading a Men's Health feature. They had a list of "perfect" numbers - 4 minutes is the correct amount of time to cook an egg, that sort of thing. Apparently most novelists write their best novels at age about 52, so I'm not too worried. I've got time.
     
  16. Diet Aether
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    Diet Aether Member

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    I agree, assimilation is actually my favorite part of reading. Every single book that I read, I try to identify one element that the author pulled off better than I could have done, and try to integrate it into my skill set. Usually they're just plot twists or quirky phrases that make me think, the one coming to mind at the moment being from HHGG: They hung in the air in precisely the way bricks don't. Bloody brilliant.
     
  17. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    Look man keep writing. Ken Follets you may not be but be the first "Enslaved". As you write you will get better and learn the craft even more.

    In the future your novels may be better then his. Also enjoy the journey your writing takes you on. Have fun.
     
  18. jrusovich
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    jrusovich New Member

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    Crisis of Faith

    Yea, it's a nightmare when one day you sit down, open your script folder, read a few lines, and suddenly feel that everything you've ever written is trash. I don't know where this comes from, but it's got to be one of the worst feelings on earth. I wonder, for example, if people like Jackie Collins ever read extraordinary writers, like Fitzgerald, and then feels terrible about their own work...in spite of the fact that she's sold over 400 million copies? I wonder the same thing about musicians who realize their success was more about luck than talent. I'm not sure any of this really matters, but it would be nice to figure out how to avoid what feels like getting punched in the stomach...over and over again.
     

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