1. GirlIsWrite
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    GirlIsWrite New Member

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    Hiya Newbie here, (a little advice needed) :-)

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GirlIsWrite, Jul 24, 2012.

    Hiya everyone,

    I'm new here, I'm looking forward to getting to know the forum a bit better, I've had a quick nose about, it looks fantastic.

    I joined yesterday, mostly because I need a little bit of advice on how to overcome the hideous cloud of self doubt (I hope this is the right forum for this type of question?)

    When I was 8 or 9 years old, I used to write short stories and create (and play out :D) several different characters. I gave it a rest for a while until I was 16, when I started writing a book, it was going pretty well, I would spend a couple of hours per night writing, but then suddenly gave up and through away my half finished story - I actually binned it!

    I'm 25 years old now, and since then I have started a few different projects - but struggle greatly to get them off the ground!

    At the moment I have got 2 ideas that I am 'working on' (a few paragraphs knocked out in microsoft word)


    In my head, my ideas are characters seem to flow, when I'm doing housework or watching a movie - I'm constantly creating in my head, It's impossible for me not to, it makes me happy! It doesn't matter how bad things have got in my personal life, whenever I think of writing and my characters and stories - it's like an enormous relief for me, the thought of being able to tell stories and give my characters lives is beyond incredible, I need it! (I'm sure you know the feeling!)

    There just one problem - it's like my 'flow' gets clogged up when I try to actually do the writing part! Somehow everything dies when I try to put in into a story or get it written down - I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, and when I try to, I get frustrated with myself when everything I write down is complete crap! Just mind numbingly stupid boring crap!

    I cannot find my 'voice'!

    I have read the advice of 'just write' and you'll get there - but the thought of writing and not being any good at it fills me with total dread! All I ever think about is writing, it's just doing it that I am struggling with :D

    Any advice at all would be great, first of all is there any advice on how to actually be a writer, and also on how to deal with the fear I have?

    Every night I start out with good intentions of writing at least 500 words - but 9 times out of 10 I end up wasting the night away, procrastinating, watching movies and eating toast!

    Thank you everyone for reading my first post,

    Charley x (The girl version of Charley :D)
     
  2. Morkonan
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    Morkonan Senior Member

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    What you are encountering is the first hurdle of writing. Every writer has to jump it and some leap higher than others.

    As you progress, you will start to learn about the mechanics of writing a story. You'll learn how to use new tools that "daydreaming" will not teach you how to use. When you become proficient with them, you'll learn how to apply these tools in order to create plots, characters and settings in order to take your daydreamed story from simple imagery to a story crafted with words.

    It's hard.

    But, it looks so easy.

    That's why many people attempt to write, but few people do it well.

    That's because you don't have one yet. Don't worry, that's OK. In order to find your voice, it's going to take you awhile to learn the tools necessary to write as well as learn, for yourself, ways to use the tools that seem most natural for you. Once you've got the basics and have had some experience using the tools, you'll find your voice. Don't rush.

    Well, whoever gave that advice didn't know what they were talking about. Don't believe me? OK, let's say you can't swim. I throw you into a deep pool of water. "But, I don't know how to swim!" you cry. "Don't worry, just swim." I respond. So, then what? You flap your arms around and that doesn't seem to help. Somewhere, you remember something about kicking your legs, but you can't quite figure it out. You twist and flail and the water churns around you. After a few minutes of this, the water doesn't churn around anymore...

    "Don't worry! Just write!" Yeah... right.

    You've been trying to write, but it just doesn't seem to go anywhere, right? You get fed up with the lack of performance and satisfaction, so procrastinate by doing something else and then feel guilty, afterwards. Yup, everyone knows that story. What you need to understand is that writing can be taught. Even good writing can be taught. And, if it can be taught, you can learn it!

    I recommend you start out with some books. You know, that stuff that some stores sell that has lots of pieces of paper? Yeah, those things. The Internet is wonderful, but sometimes you need to just curl yourself around a book and devote one-hundred percent attention to it. That's what you want your readers to do with the books you write, isn't it? Here are some recommendations:

    The Write Great Fiction Series - Go to the bookstore, find the "Writing/Publisher" section and buy anything they have there in the Write Great Fiction Series, especially if it's by James Scott Bell.

    Elements of Fiction Writing Series - Great books and are along the same lines as the Write Great Fiction series. Buy any of those that you see, as well.

    Writing the Breakout Novel - A book to be treasured. Take everything said in it close to heart and you will not fail. This is a definite "Must Buy" book.

    Strunk and White: The Elements of Style - Everything you've been taught in English class, digested down into easy to reference bits and pieces, plus condensed versions of what you need to know as a prospective author. Another "Must Buy" book.

    There are others, but these will be enough to get you started. These books will explain how to plot, how to develop characters and settings, how to write dialogue, how to create sub-plots and scene descriptions and, above all, how to write well. Once you learn the basics of using these tools to craft a story, then you can begin to search for your Voice. Until then, you're going to be too frustrated with unproductive writing sessions and the pain they can cause. First learn the techniques, then discover for yourself what you find to be the most comfortable way to apply them.
     
  3. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    I'd have to agree with most of what is said already. Welcome to the club, and if you look with the right pair of eyes, you'll see we're receiving you with open arms. What you've just described is something I've recently put to words. I can say I have had similar experiences. When I was younger, I had a collection of note books, which I eventually burned, for reasons not worth wasting your time on. Since I've started writing seriously, I've made it half way into two novels, and trashed both, because they were horrible. I've discovered just how fluent I am not, in my native tongue. There lies a blur within spoken and written communication. Whereas spoken is strictly for the sake of the person in front of you nodding their head in understanding, and the written is strictly exact, with specific meaning intended. Where people have the ability to question words in context, the ability to re-read sentences for meaning. In conversation, no one cares if you used the wrong plural ending, or what context 'felt' was in, because you formed a picture in their head, and they understood. Written word can frustrating in that sense, because we've never focused on being exact, and correct. The latter being so specific, we've spent a life time using words incorrectly, and phrases we don''t fully know the meaning of, that it makes it much harder for description. With practice, the ideas and the ability will flow easier. The bigger your toolbox of words, the wider the range of description you'll have at hand.

    I like to compare my ability to describe, and my flow of words/ideas, to a lake that exists inside my head, and at this stage, that lake is dammed up. The more I read, the more I study, the more truly fluent I become, the easier sentences flow naturally, the easier it is for me to describe emotions, and physical action. With each piece of knowledge gleamed, a part of that dam crumbles. Sometimes, it leaks, and the leak flows for a time, but for whatever reason, it gets stopped. The point is, there will come a time when the dam will no longer be able to hold the lake of my creativity, and it'll explode, allowing my words to flow like its water. Then, I'll reflect, and know just how powerful my words can be, just how strong an impact I can leave, for I have put in the necessary work to make them everlasting.

    Another piece of advice: Find a mentor, or join some kind of quality workshop.. The 'just write' mentallity is good, if you have someone supervising your writing, otherwise you're just reinforcing bad habits. As my mentor says, never write unsupervised.
     
  4. bsbvermont
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    bsbvermont Active Member

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    Welcome to the site...I'll just really echo about reading. Getting ideas about characters from TV dos not always translate into writing. Dedicate time to reading (especially the genre you'll be writing in). Also, keep a tablet or notebook with you so if you have some characters already in your head, when you see something that looks like one of "their attributes" or something happens that could be part of that character, write down the details. What did you see, what happened, think about the 4 senses and capture it. You can use it later.

    Definitely share your work and don't be surprised if it's ripped to shreds when you first share it. That's part of the process.
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    You've received some good advice. I like the advice about reading some writing books -- especially ones that give you some writing prompts. Try writing some stories that aren't those two you have in your head right now -- that will be less intimidating. A few that I like are:
    Building Fiction by Kercheval
    Writing Fiction by the Gotham Writer's Workshop
    On Becoming a Novelist by Gardner

    I have a couple others but I can't think of the name right now. Also there's one called The 3 am Epiphany that is all writing prompts.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    brace yourself... this is gonna be a lecture from a loving 'mom' who has only your best interests at heart...

    the most vital requisite for a writer, other than at least a modicum of talent and the basic skills, is 'self-discipline'... till you develop that, it won't matter how much talent you have or how good your skills are...

    and no one can give you self-discipline or tell you how to get it... so stop looking for an easy way to make yourself write and remember that you're a grownup now, no longer that dreamy little kid... do whatever it takes to make yourself write and keep writing, no matter how bad it may be to begin with... if you don't write, you may be a thinker, but you're not a writer...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  7. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Perhaps you don't realize that first drafts are generally crappy. It's normal to have a yucky first draft. It's the rewrite that makes writing good. Give yourself permission to write poorly and you might find it easier to write.
     
  8. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    Go easy on yourself, don't expect perfection on the first try. If you do, you'll end up sitting at the computer for 6 hours deleting and re-writing the same paragraph over and over again. (What?! No, i've never done that myself! :redface: I haven't been working on a college essay for the last 6 hours... Maybe i need to take my own advice. lol)

    Point is, Just let whats in your head out onto the page, no matter how much of a mess it is! You can always fix it afterward!
     
  9. BBBurke
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    BBBurke Member

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    One thought that might help. If you have all these grand ideas for big stories it can be intimidating to try to get them down on paper. Start by trying to write a short story - something you can finish in one sitting or a couple of days. The act of having COMPLETED something makes it easier to start bigger projects. Then make sure to try to edit and improve it - another essential skill that's easier to do on a short piece.
     
  10. abby75
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    abby75 Member

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    Well I think you just put your thoughts and feeling into words, it was compelling, interesting, intriguing, and not crap at all! I think you can write, but you are getting bogged down with thinking that you can't. I agree with BBBurke, write short stories, or poetry, even diary entries. It will give your confidence a boost when you finish something and each thing you write will be better than the last.
     
  11. Fivvle
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    Fivvle Contributing Member

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    If writing is too much at first, the read! It's a great way to learn about the craft, if you pay attention. Pay attention to the way sentences are formed, how the author relays information to the reader... all that jazz. After you've read and really thought about what you've read, try putting stuff to use. Write about whatever you want, and try and form he sentences like you've seen the author do. Try out some of the techniques or interesting ways of writing that you just observed. It's like "monkey see, monkey do", except you get to write about all the things that you find exciting!
     
  12. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    I couldn't agree with this more. Whenever I feel like I'm having writer's block I just write anyway even if I know I'm writing crap. Sometimes I surprise myself and the result isn't that bad. Most of the time it is, in fact, crap. That's okay because then I have some raw material from which something (hopefully) worthwhile can be crafted.
     
  13. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    Yes.


    Outline scenarios until you find one which fills you with confidence.

    I don't think the word count each day is important, I think that you get a sequence down each day is important.
     

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