1. besixdouze
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    besixdouze New Member

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    Getting started.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by besixdouze, Jan 22, 2013.

    Hi everyone,

    I imagine several of you can identify with my problem but I'm looking for helpful pointers.

    My biggest problem as a writer is a lack of self-confidence. I've been encouraged by others to write, but no amount of affirmation from professors/family/friends can dissipate my self-consciousness about my writing. I have a difficult time starting to write because this is what I've always dreamed of doing, so if I fail--well, I'm not quite ready to deal with that. But the other thing is that I'm so hypercritical of my own work. I have heard billions of times that you're not expected to write a Pulitzer Prize Winner on the first go. Writing requires a lot of time, energy and revision. But I'm not sure how to revise. I just look at something I've written and think, "This sucks."

    Does anyone have any advice for just the psychological aspect of writing? Or any useful exercises to keep you writing on a regular basis so that you really start to get a knack for it?
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most writers feel this way. You really just have to allow yourself to write something that sucks. There's no way to get better unless you practice. Revising is tough, but you shouldn't do it until you've finished the whole piece (whether it's essay, short story or novel), let it sit for a while, and maybe received some critique from a few other people. (Some people want to do an initial edit before seeking any critique, but in any event, you should let it sit for at least a short while.)
     
  3. popsprocket
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    popsprocket Member

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    As far as revising goes, perhaps only the most cursory job is what you need to do. Go through and look for major errors in continuity or character, and fix the little things like spelling, grammar, and punctuation, but don't spend a whole lot of time re-writing everything. Instead, move on to the next thing. You'll get a little better at writing each time you do it, and sometimes it's not worth salvaging what you've written. My biggest suggestion for this is don't write 'that' idea - you know, the one you've had in your head for years and finally want to write it - until you feel you can do it justice. If you're completely in love with an idea you can kill it easily by trying to write it before you are capable of doing so.
     
  4. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think every writer feels like this at some point. I dealt with it by deciding to learn how to write fiction. I researched the books and started with structure. Those first couple of books I summarised as I went along, basically trying to actually learn it. Since then, I read maybe 5 or 6 more, and even now, as I am writing my book, I still refer to those books. But my ability to mimic excellent writing has tripled. At some point it'll become second nature. Until then, fake it 'till you make it.
     
  5. ika
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    ika New Member

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    You are experiencing something every writer endures, and I can assure you right now, I feel exactly the way you do.

    I'm going to echo what everyone else already has - just do it. I force myself every day to at least write part of a chapter - whether it's one paragraph or the entire thing. I often end up deleting huge chunks of it, but at least it's down on paper (or should I say, a word doc.) You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

    Here's the philosophy I'm trying to adopt: Write every single day, even if it's a poem, a paragraph, or 500 pages. Keep going until you're comfortable with the notion of writing. Accept that yes, you may suck, but you will only get better with time, diligence, and practice (this is universal.) Accept that yes, when you turn in your first manuscript, it may be ripped to shreds and get rejected from every publisher out there. Water off your back. JK Rowling got rejected by dozens of agencies before an independent one scouted her. You may not be her, but the hope will fuel you to continue doing what you love. Always remember to love it, though, and don't get caught up with dreams of fat paychecks and fame and movie rights. You do this for you. Pick up your pieces with every round of harsh feedback and start again. Attend writing conventions and network like hell. Don't sell yourself short, don't stop when it gets hard, and don't give up. Ever.
     
  6. Bimber
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    Bimber Contributing Member

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    Think of it like sport athletes, some kid shows up with talent but it takes time and hard training and devotion (and some luck), to make him a superstar and that kid wont play the best game of his life when he starts but when he is in top form, and has lots of games played under his belt.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    next to skill and some amount of talent, the most vital requisite for all who want to be writers is 'self-discipline'... without that you'll get nowhere...

    so work on having the strength to ignore all those doubts and just sit down and write!
     
  8. Tanelorn
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    Tanelorn New Member

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    I can empathize with this. Reading and emulating great writers did me little good. I just couldn't for the life of me figure out what they were doing different. Then I started lurking around writing sights and before long I started recognizing a lot of the mistakes I was making. So I would recommend reading a great many of the threads here and writing more. Pretty soon you will start seeing the mistakes you're making and how to correct them. Which is a pretty neat thing, if I do say so myself.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've more than once used the analogy of a person learning to play the piano. Would you expect anyone, no matter how much inborn talent they had, to play the piano well the first time the sat down to it? Do you think that anyone would say, "Oh, wow, that's so great that we're going to record it, press it, and sell it immediately!"

    No. They're going to produce a fumbling mess of sound.

    People think that they should be able to write well the first time that they sit down, because they speak in the same language that they're writing in. But speaking and writing are fundamentally different methods of using that language.

    Write stuff. Don't just assume that it won't be Pulitzer Prize worthy; assume that it will be dreadful. Awful. Horrible. The written equivalent of that mess of jangled piano notes. You're not going to know if you do or don't have talent at writing until you've written a few hundred thousand words, probably a couple of million words.

    So the stuff that you sit down and write today will not give you the answer to the scary question of whether you can be a writer. That answer is far, far away, so don't let the fear of encountering it keep you from starting.

    As for how to keep yourself writing, that depends on you. You could blog. You could keep a journal. You could find a penpal and write looooong detailed letters to them. What appeals to you?
     

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