1. mac89
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    mac89 New Member

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    Having trouble

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by mac89, Jul 8, 2009.

    Hey everyone, this is my first time here and Im pretty embarrassed to say this, but I am having trouble expressing myself verbally let alone on paper. My writing skills are not up to par and honestly I dont know how I reached college level. I kind of skimmed by , but now, it is too late and I feel like I cant go through school like this anymore. I dont know anything about writing. I write stories, I tried, but its always been crossed out and shot down by people so Im insecure. I need to write a story by tomorrow and I have nothing, nothing going on in my head. I free write but its like elementary writing...I feel doomed. I dont know what to do. I searched online, I asked people to give me ideas, but i feel lazy and hopeless . For me, sentences are hard to form beautifully, I read other works and I think to myself, I wish I can write like that. When Im reading , I just read words and try to figure out whats going on instead of the authors writing style and elements they use. I dont what you can do about this, but I need encouragement or tips. thanks
     
  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are no tips or words of encouragement anyone can give you that will work unless you're willing to turn around that attitude. You have to just relax and enjoy the process.
     
  3. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    I think you're beating yourself up over nothing. A beautifully constructed sentence does not a good writer make. Some people will find something to criticise no matter how you write. That's the purpose of a critic, and no writing is ever perfect. If you wrote beautiful and elaborate sentences, many people here would tell you to simplify things. What you call elementary might be someone else's ideal.

    Good writing goes far beyond sentence construction and word choices, anyway. If your grammar isn't perfect, there's nothing wrong with using mostly simple sentences for now. What's more important is how well you can convey ideas (though you should always work to improve the mechanics).

    If you'd like to send me a sample of your writing via pm, I'll see if I can help you. Don't post your work in the review room, though. You would have to write at least two constructive reviews of other writing first. So just send it to me privately, if you like, and I'll help you however I can.:)
     
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  4. mac89
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    mac89 New Member

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    Thanks Kas, I sent a pm
     
  5. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    Writing, like most things is life, is a matter of practice over time. If there is such a thing as a genius who can write good stories on sheer natural talent, at least I've definitely never met one.

    You read a lot, you emulate, you write a lot, you rest. You figure out what you did wrong, you pick up a few tricks along the way, and then you read a lot, and then you emulate, and then you write a lot. And so on, and so forth. Somewhere along the line you develop a style. But it takes time and effort.

    And above all else, have fun. That's pretty damn important.

    Well, that's not so bad. If you knew a lot about writing, there wouldn't be much to do about it, would there? ;)

    If you don't know anything, all you need to do is learn. Go to the library and read books about writing, log in to writingexcuses.com and listen to all their podcasts, rent the two first Pirates of the Caribbean DVDs and listen to the writer's commentaries, start hanging out at TVtropes.org and learn about tropes, or just talk to people on these forums. Whatever, free writing lessons are all over the place.

    Actually, I think just the fact that you can find the beauty in a sentence and admire that skill is a good sign in an of itself. Plenty of people read a book and all they notice is the story.

    Again, this is just a matter of practice. Everyone goes through the: "I wish I could write like this" phase at some point. It's the kind of thing you soak up little by little over time.
     
  6. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    Why do you write?

    Yeah, yeah, I know its a cliche to ask that sort of question. Nevertheless, I want you to honestly answer it. Don't give me any of this hippie "cause its in my nature" crap. Why do you write?! Do you write for yourself or for other people? Personally, I write because I found solace in literature when my childhood wasn't very happy. I found a little bit of happiness and I grabbed on to keep my sanity. So why do you write?

    It's a rhetorical question, you don't actually have to answer. Though, I do hope you ponder it for a while. Personally, I hope you never answer it by saying you do so because its your job. It's not. Writing is no different than painting; it may pay you, but you don't do it because they pay you. You write because you find something valuable in it. I suppose if you want to get all mushy mushy on me you can say you write because your soul guides your spirit into the literary world where you can flourish amongst the lush worlds of your imagination.

    The reason I bring that up is because it is your answer. If I wanted to write for somebody else then I would currently be wrist deep in the forty-third chapter of my British wizard novel staring Delores, the angry teen Vampire who is adorably malevolent. And with that in mind, I am never put off when somebody tells me that my work is crap. Why would I be so offended? Hell, I thought James Joyce was a bit of a hack, and most people think I'm insane for that. Doesn't make them right or me wrong, it just makes James Joyce more money cause I bought his stupid books when I thought a girl at school would date me because of it. Turns out she liked Hemingway.

    So what was the point of me writing ALL of that? Well because I think you're too worried about the opinions of others and its causing you to second guess yourself. You're so afraid you won't be accepted that you're falling into their trap. This idea that you are somehow unable to write a beautiful sentence is utter crap. Who decides what is beautiful? Is it someone you barely know or a teacher whose idea of literature is something with words so long you can spell them, nevertheless pronounce them? Forgive me for saying this, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If beauty was only what society accepted then no fat or ugly person would ever, EVER be married or in any relationship. Only adorably sweet and fashionably chic individuals would be having kids.

    So STOP it! Bad college writer! Stop thinking about "them" and go and find your paradise. I don't care if you find your solace on a cool morning in Napa Valley or in a bathroom stall, just go and find it. Stop thinking about everything and let your mind flow. Be like water. Whats more beautiful than viscosity in a world of mass?
     
  7. ponyfeathers
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    ponyfeathers New Member

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    i had this problem once a while ago in a creative writing class my senior year in high school. I had to write a story about four strangers, or something like that.

    I could not think of a topic, and before I knew it, the story was due in less than 24 hours. Finally I just started writing. My story was a girl trying to write a story but 4 different people came to her door and kept distracting her.

    When I finished with this I had so much momentum I wrote another version that was, perhaps, more original. I liked the first version better, however, and submitted that one.

    When in doubt, just write anything. You can edit it later, you can change it completely, or you might get a better idea from what you write.

    Good luck!

    PonyFeathers
     
  8. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Your to be commended for recognizing that your skills need improvement. But you wrote the above well and communicated just fine. So, don't despair. I'd suggest writing a story about someone who feels doomed (given you know what that feels like). And don't try to write beautifully (any beautiful writing--even the best--will be shot down and criticized by someone). Try first to write what you want to say, and then check on it to improve its grammatical correctness. Things like eliminating excess words can come later; and part of what makes "beautiful" writing beautiful is that it's how the author actually expresses himself. "Plain" has its own, very distinctive beauty if it comes from the heart and soul of the writer.

    Enjoy it and don't be afraid to feel insecure (the best fiction writers I've ever known or heard speak feel that very same way). Insecurity can feed amazing and compelling fiction.
     
  9. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I found a gem of a book about a week ago. It is all about writing well constructed sentences, and it's full of examples.

    Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams.
     
  10. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Mac, I had that same problem when I went into college too. My grammar and spelling skills were lacking greatly, my ability to convey a thought clearly and my story telling skills all sucked.

    With each class, though during the class the crossed out parts and red ink were enough to make me want to give up, I improved just a little bit. But I found something out, I wasn't nearly as bad as some of the people in the classes.

    After about six classes, I noticed my writing improving leaps and bounds over what it was, but it still wasn't that great.

    I never finished college (two classes short of an AS degree,) but I did learn a lot. After I stopped, I continued writing. I wrote non-fiction magazine style articles, which helped me practice in being clear with my thoughts and concise with my grammar and spelling.

    I read a lot. Books, magazines, internet sites. I probably went through 100 websites on how to write, fiction and non-fiction. I read books on how to write. My creative writing teacher, William Nobel, has about five books on creative writing, Show Don't Tell is one of my favorites of his. Self-editing for Fiction Writers is also one of the mandatory books all fiction writers should own. I know I have several other ones, along with a few years of Writing Digest magazine subscriptions.

    I've been writing full time now for about 5 years. It takes a long time to learn the craft, but with each passing year I get better.

    Just because you don't feel like you know anything now, doesn't mean you won't learn. Keep writing. If you would like another person to help you a bit, feel free to message me, we can chat through email and I'll be happy to review some stuff for you.

    The best thing to do is really keep an attitude of wanting to learn. As long as you maintain the desire to better your craft, then you will.
     

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