1. Mordred85
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    Mordred85 Active Member

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    How do we attack discouragement?

    Discussion in 'Insights & Inspiration' started by Mordred85, Jul 5, 2015.

    Being an aspiring fantasy author, I find myself blown away when watching interviews with some already published and successful authors. Sometimes it can be their vast knowledge of history, and I'm not just talking U.S. history here. It can be anything from their knowledge of different religions they've researched or how they know so much about anything they're asked about. It sometimes feels like a little low-blow to my conscience and I feel that I am not up to par with these writers. Not that I'm trying to be as good or better than them, but I sometimes feel useless or unworthy of having certain aspirations.

    I sometimes find myself reading some modern fantasy material with a more common tongue. These kind of books usually convince me that I have hope in becoming an author. Other times, I'm reading some classic Children's Literature and finding myself in a shit-storm. It's hard to believe how children read this with ease in 1958. Then again, we didn't have many distractions like smartphones, video-games and satellite television.

    I may just be over-analyzing this stuff, but I'd like to know how you guys feel about the subject. Also, do any of you sometimes feel a bit discouraged in a similar way before starting a new project?
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2015
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  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, you may be relieved to know that a lot of filmed interviews involve questions the author was aware of before hand, or at least pre-agreed general topics. A good interviewer can steer the conversation subtly but effectively toward areas the guest will be able to discuss intelligently. So those authors may have specialized areas of expertise, rather than broad general knowledge.

    Other than that - probably best to try to train yourself not to compare, if you can. There's always going to be somebody better at some specific things, so don't set yourself up against them. Try to appreciate their skills and be inspired to improve - you can get better, after all.

    I know, it's easier to say than to do it. But do some reading on the Growth Mindset and see about retraining your brain to think of abilities as a progression, not a fixed point.
     
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  3. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    As @BayView says, most interviews aren't spontaneous. Unless the interviewer doesn't want a repeat interview with the subject (or, perhaps, anyone else ever again!), it's not likely to be too hostile and searching.

    Plus, by the time you've had several books published, you've probably been around the block a few times, you've read widely, and then more deeply in something you're interested in. You will have good general knowledge.

    Remember the words of Desiderata (Google it for the full text):

    If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
     
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  4. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Always compare yourself to yourself first. And last. Are you better than last year, or 10 years ago? Then that should be enough. This happens a fair bit in cycling with new riders. Have to spend some time getting them to track their performance and climb times, etc, so they can see the improvement in themselves.

    You are the only person you can control. You can only control your performance / ability.

    The best, most famous and noteworthy people get interviews, and as @BayView points out, the questions are sent to the interviewee ahead of time - sometimes for approval even.

    It can be difficult to see other people and how adept they are, skilled in a subject you are also interested in. Celebrate their skill and use it as motivation or inspiration.

    I'd also consider the journey as more important / satisfying than the end result.
     
  5. D'hai
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    D'hai Member

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    I completely understand your point and I need to say that somebody being better than you at a certain thing can be discouraging at first until you realize that is just a point you need to reach, it is within human posibility so if you work hard enough you can make it happen. I strongly believe that if you work hard enough anything can be accomplished, besides that the main component to achieving your dreams is passion. If you have the willingness to work hard and passion to guide your hand you can become better and better till you reach the summit you were looking up last year. As @Aaron DC said compare yourself to yourself first. Be the best you can be and that is enough. Be happy with yourself and if you aren't change in a way so that you will become happy with yourself and your course in life. Everybody makes mistakes, everybody gets discouraged the thing that puts you on the path to that summit is not how to prevent mistakes but the knowledge you gain from them and how fast you get up to continue on your path.
     
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  6. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    It's completely unfair to compare yourself to someone who is not your peer. A published author - potentially published multiple times - who's been able to devote more of their life to writing and such just isn't going to be on the same level as some of us. It's just a matter of time. If you started writing yesterday, people who start writing today will feel the same way about you, you know? It can be daunting, absolutely, but requisite inspirational quote I grabbed off pinterest:

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I'm well below par compared to established writers, but write anyway.
     
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  8. Masked Mole
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    Masked Mole Contributing Member

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    They all started right where you are--admiring other great authors. It's a generational thing. Artists inspire other artists. Keep working and you can be great too.
     
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  9. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mordred85,

    Like others have said above, plus...


    You are who you are, with your background knowledge and skills. No two writers, very successful or lesser, are exactly the same. There's no formula of reading and study and background that will, with the proper topics and proportions, will result in a successful author.

    Hang in three and press on!
     
  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    The more you write and do research, the more you'll end up knowing, if that doesn't sound too simplistic. If you write a book centred around ancient religions that requires research (even if it's fantasy) you'll be an expert on the subject by the time you're done. Or if not an expert, at least somebody who sounds like they know their stuff. That doesn't mean you started out with all this information, but after you've been working with it and adding to it as your story requires, you'll painlessly acquire the expertise to talk about it LIKE an expert.
     
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  11. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    I watched a Tad Williams interview recently in which he said that the way he "made it" was by "out-working" other authors. From his perspective, if you really wish to be one of the top fantasy authors and go down in history and get YOUTUBE INTERVIEWS and stuff, work harder than your favorite authors. Look at exactly what they've done and do that better. Tad literally looked at Tolkien and said, how could I do LOTR way better (and he wrote MST). George RR Martin read MST and said, how could I do that better (and he wrote GOT). If you're not trying to "get to the top" then just write for enjoyment... which probably means getting better and better because being skillful is also enjoyable.
     
  12. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Wait, are we talking about discouragement from ourselves or discouragement from other people/society?
     
  13. Mordred85
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    Mordred85 Active Member

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    Thank you all for the inspiring words. I really do appreciate how many of you shed light on having a more optimistic and progressive outlook.
     
  14. Carl Magnus
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    Carl Magnus Member

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    Many well known authors, including Stephen King, have spoken about writing and discouragement. As with anything, I think you have to accept that writing is a journey. You should be writing because you have something to say, a story to share. Sounds cliché but there are easier ways to make money, so enjoy the process?
     
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  15. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I think the question you need to ask yourself first is, "Why do I write?"

    I didn't start getting published until I stopped writing to get published. Once I was writing for myself magazine editors started coming to and asking for submissions. And, it's impossible to be discouraged when the only person you need to please is yourself.

    With every story I write I ask myself, "Is this something I want to read?" If I want to know how the story ends, I write. If I want to know the answer to a question, I write. If you are writing to please yourself, then it doesn't matter if anyone else likes it, or if you get published. It's just an exercise in creativity and in the end you have a work that you can keep for yourself or share with others.

    As far as feeling insecure about you lack of historical (or other) knowledge, you can change that. Start learning. You can get anything through ILL. My small town library is happy to go out of their way to get me maps from the Colorado School of Mines or a Proto-Celtic dictionary from UCLA. Anything you want can be had and most reference librarians are delighted to have a task that doesn't involve finding "the next book in popular series x."
     
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  16. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    To quote Jerry Holkins,

    "You will be an observer - that is to say, not a creator - forever, until the day you find a way to stop using creative people as a proxy for your own stunted drives. You can emerge from this cocoon you’ve made, or you can die inside it, half-formed."

    I read that every day before I sit down to write.
     
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  17. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    My five cents for when I felt hopelessness for ever creating something of my own creep in on cold claws.

    I close my eyes and ears, shut down television or the book which brought out this desolation, walk away from a conversation when possible. Turn on my computer, start reading what I wrote, start writing further. Really, that is the best way to get out of hopelessness.. fall again in love with your own words. They will captivate you if you let them, and all these others can just fall again into the pit of forgetfulness.
    As has been said before, each of these knowledgeable persons started somewhere, probably a bit like you are feeling now. So don't take away your chance to become a kind of great within yourself!
     
  18. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't care where I am with my writing skill, I care that I'm better than I was yesterday.
     
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  19. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    I don't think there is anything wrong with being aware of where others are at and how you think you may compare to them as long as you can appreciate your own journey and understand what you are trying to achieve. I agree with the comment that when you are assessing your own improvement, you should be comparing you to yourself first. Most of us will never write best sellers (don't throw tomatoes at me everyone!) but that's not the reason I was ever interested in writing. I just want to create something I would love and every time I am not procrastinating and working towards that goal, I am happy. It's when I am not doing anything that I am discouraged.
     
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  20. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    First of all, just because someone else is good doesn't make you bad. You could be both good, you know.

    Second of all, just because someone else is better doesn't make you bad. Skill is a spectrum, after all. Folks would agree that Kafka is better than JK Rowling, but JK Rowling is by no means terrible. I could only dream of having success the likes of Rowling!

    Thirdly, with interviews, it's not uncommon for the interviewer to let the interviewee know what questions he'd be asked in advance. Anything released/published would obviously be edited, so any blunders the author made was probably edited out! Or else the clip reshot.

    Fourthly, as others have said, compare yourself only to yourself. As long as you're improving, you got nothing to worry about!

    You know, I used to be the same with singing - I'd listen to great singers and think, "How come it sounds so lovely when they do it compared to when I do it?" - and then I realised, well of course it's gonna sound fabulous. The song was written tailored to the singer's voice! If I had a song tailored to my vocal range to maximise the quality of my voice, I'm sure I'd sound pretty good too! Ok maybe still not as good as them, but certainly it wouldn't be half as bad as I think.
     
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  21. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    Whenever I'm feeling down I just remember that Dan Brown still sells books.

    I kid, I kid. But seriously...

    There's a kind of reasonably obsessive person who is drawn to writing; people who did well at school or university who study in their own time and when they sit down and write they tend to be quite good at seeing their ideas through and getting them to a decent standard. But the thing that matters is that commitment to your work. If you have that all the time then yeah it lets you pick up other stuff too, lots of weird arcane knowledge, but that's not what is making them a good writer. What makes them a good writer is focusing on writing.

    To keep your aspirations; just remember why you write. Focus on that. Focus on what makes writing itself worth doing to you. Do stuff that pleases you. That way you don't need anyone elses validation to be happy with what you're doing.
     
  22. MichaelP
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    MichaelP Active Member

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    Every person will spend a lifetime developing his own unique combination of knowledge, skills, experiences, and thoughts. This is what you bring to the table as a writer and what separates you from every other writer on earth. It's your "angle," in other words.

    You may not know a lot about subject A or B, but you may also know more about subject F and Q than most people do. I write soft SF because my scientific knowledge is inadequate for hard SF. However, I can discuss the most esoteric musical ideas, like the use of modal counterpoint during the Baroque era or Liszt's revolutionary use of the whole tone scale. I even know a great deal about martial arts and Catholic theology (even though I'm atheist).
     
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  23. HistoricalScience
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    HistoricalScience Active Member

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    Drink a beer!

    But I agree with the other posts. Its depressing as hell to compare myself to established writers so I just try to worry about becoming the best writer that I can be.
     
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  24. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    One of my favorite film quotes is from "Pastime", in which the team's manager tells one of his players (who is jealous of a newly arrived hot prospect): "It doesn't matter how good somebody else is; it doesn't make you any better, it doesn't make you any worse."

    I wouldn't urge you not to compare yourself to other writers, because published writers have a lot to teach us. Just don't use those comparisons to define your progress.
     
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  25. KOHIPEET
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    KOHIPEET New Member

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    I often feel this when I finish an almost perfectly crafted story. I'm like "How the hell do people write this good? I never gonna be as good as this!" Sometimes the effect is pretty severe (I've finished Live by Night from Dennis Lehane recently and I felt devastated right after..) but I then begin to realize that those writers who are so good right now, have been, perhaps in the same situation and that I just have to believe in myself and I'll get there eventually, no matter how long the road is.
     
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