1. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    How do you ignore your bad writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by thabear637, Oct 27, 2011.

    Hey all,

    Been working on my first fantasy novel for quite some time now, but mostly due to long breaks. I'm currently sitting at 35, 755 words though, and to me, that is a big accomplishment for myself. However, I refuse to give it up and I do plan on finishing it.

    From everything I have read, I understand you need to take some time out of everyday to write something. I have also understood (and completely agree with this part) that you just keep writing, and you fix your bad writing in revisions.

    Heres my problem. When I force myself to write everyday, I feel less motivated. It feels much more like work, than it is fun when I write when I want to, rather then when I have to. And I feel my writing is forced, and it doesn't flow like it does when it's fun.

    The second part of my problem is when I do write bad writing, I have trouble ignoring how bad it is. I feel that it can be so bad that it will influene where the story goes in my mind, and therfore needs to change before I go further. And thus more discouraging me from writing (hence the long breaks).

    So here is my question to everyone. What do you tell yourself to make you feel better about your bad writing? How do you keep the motivation to keep it up?

    Just looking for what other people do, maybe it will help me keep focused. By the way, in case anyone views this as a case of writers block, I don't believe its that. I know where it needs to go, and feel I can take it there, I just don't for the reasons above.

    Thanks!
     
  2. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    It's pretty simple, don't write if it isn't fun. Unless you are doing this for a job and it's to the point where you HAVE to write in order to get paid... you can write at whatever pace you want to. And figure out when "good times" to write are for yourself. If you don't like to write first thing in the morning, then obviously don't do that.

    If this is your first major piece of work... honestly, I might start smaller. I remember when I first started writing stories, it was like 8-9 chapters at maybe 2000 words per chapter. Then I wrote the next story, and the amount of story was the same in terms of how much plot there was, but the story was like 20% longer because I learned how to add more things to it. Then the next story it might jump up 30% from the last one because I figured out a clever way to add plot to the story to make it more interesting. A scene that might've just been a few paragraphs before, now it's half the chapter. And then now, the first chapter of my story is about 6000 words long instead of 2000 (and I still "divide" my chapters the same way so I'm not just combining chapters together).

    The point is, don't go for gold on your first shot. Your first story will probably be decent, but not a masterpiece by any measure. But if you keep going about it, you'll get to where you can comfortably write something good that's around "novel" length. I'm still not there yet myself but I've noticed improvement with each story.
     
  3. Marranda
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    Marranda Senior Member

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    I write alternate scenes if I feel the original scene is lacking what I need/want it to have to carry on to the next scenario/chapter/whatever.

    I had a similar problem a while back where I couldn't decide if I wanted to follow up an action scene with more action, or with drama- and if I followed up with drama, what kind of drama did I want it to be? Because either way it went, I knew where the story was going, I just couldn't decide on what i wanted the lulls in the story to contain (lulls being the spans of story between the important parts). So giving up on making a decision on just ONE route, I wrote them all. It helped me further the depth of my characters as well as gave me a few alternate exercises in writing my story. In the end, having the variety helped me pick the outcome I needed to progress the plot and helped me put more emphasis and helped define my MC's dynamics.

    And I agree with Agentkirb up there ^. When writing becomes un-fun, you need a break. Don't push yourself. Just enjoy the story as it comes to you.
     
  4. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    Thanks both of you. I kind of figured that I needed to stop "writing every day" but I just read a lot about writing, and most of them say you need to do it. Guess that part isn't for me.

    That's not a bad idea about writing various scenes twice. Perhaps if I write a "bad chapter" I could rewrite a various version of it, and keep them both temporarily. Not sure if that would solve my problem or not, but its worth a shot.
     
  5. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    When I write something terrible, I don't get bent out of shape over it. Everybody starts somewhere. All you need to do is learn from your mistakes and press onward. Life is too short to get worked up over it, as long as you keep evolving you should be happy about your writing.

    In professional kitchens, it is a common thing to tell someone new, "Make as many mistakes as you want. Just don't make the same mistake twice." I think the same could just as easily be applied to writing.
     
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  6. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    If the "bad chapter" is an issue of the actual substance in the chapter (plot, character development, whatever), maybe the solution is just to write an outline of what you plan on writing for that chapter, and maybe even a few chapters after. And that way you aren't writing the whole thing and so when you decide you didn't like the way you originally did things it's not a complete waste of time.
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Depends on your goal. If your goal is to be a professional writer who earns a living writing fiction, then you need to treat it as a profession and write consistently whether you feel like it or not, because it will essentially be a 'job' (and hopefully a rewarding one).

    If your goal is to only approach writing as a hobby and not worry about having books or stories published professionally, then you can write are rarely as you like and it is no big deal.

    The advice you see that says write every day generally assumes that the recipient of the advice wished to become a professional writer.
     
  8. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I may be the voice in the wilderness here, but when I have bad writing - I fix it. Leaving it and moving on is like leaving a splinter in my toe. And fixing it means I can move on with the story and not have a massive rewrite later when I figure out then how to fix it. Not everyone writes the whole thing and then edits/revises. Maybe that's your problem, why it isn't 'fun' (although don't expect writing to always be fun - sometimes it's a massive headache!).
     
  9. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    This is a very individual thing, but I would tend to disagree with this. If you want to get good at anything, whether it is a hobby or a profession, you have to stick with it, even if it gets tough, even if you have a hard time being motivated. I am a semi-professional singer. I absolutely love singing. However, there's some days when I'm just not feeling it -- it happens to everyone. If I were to give up in those tough spots, I would have never become a good vocalist. The key for me, as it is for a lot of people, is pushing through those rough spots.

    As to the original question: the way I ignore my bad writing these days is with a typewriter. Not having the ability to go back and do extensive edits really takes away a lot of the desire to do so. It's a relatively new thing for me, but it's been a smashing success so far. I also have some ideas as to how to get this effect without a typewriter, but that's a discussion for another time.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    There is writing software (free) that doesn't allow a backspace or editing. Just google "writing software no backspace" if you are interested, or PM me since I can't actually tell you what it is here :p
     
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with steerpike and arathald, if you have the intention of making this a profession you just need to stick to it and treat it like a job. it takes twice as much discipline compared to a normal job, because you're basically your own boss and no one is going to yell at you if you don't work :D
     
  12. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    By being too stupid to think that I have bad writing. In my world, I write everything good. This is how I must view it, but to make my writing awesome, I must edit, edit, edit.
     
  13. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    I'm being really nitpicky here, but, to clarify: my point was not just for those who want to be professional writers, but also for everyone who is serious about it as a hobby. My example of singing is an excellent example of this: though I aspire to someday sing professionally, I have no plans to make a profession out of it. It's just a hobby, I've just grown my skills enough to become a semi-professional at it.
     
  14. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    It's probably a semantics issue when you get down to it. I'm sure that when I write there are times I get frustrated... but I don't give up. Sure. But if I'm frustrated with writing all the time, I'm either going to move away from it or slow down on it. Like, if I were writing 5 days a week for 2 hours a day and I was dreading it... I'd just stop and move to a schedule that I can handle.
     
  15. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Don't ignore your bad writing: keep it in the back of your mind for when you're revising later. But before you revise, finish the first write-through. Getting the plot fleshed out from beginning to end is the hardest and most important part, and after that, tweaking for writing quality is relatively easy. Knowing your writing is bad sometimes is a sign you're a GOOD writer, because it shows that you know you can do better and will probably have great ideas on how to improve when you're at that point. A bad writer would just think "meh, my writing is perfect" because they can't recognize what's good writing and what's not.

    As far as it feeling like a chore, if you're a serious writer, suck it up and treat it like a job - only writing when it's "fun" will get you nowhere, because you'll hardly ever write. I've found that it can be compared to going to the gym. Before you get to a certain point, it sucks to get up your energy and go, and you often have to force yourself, and it can be painful. But after a while, you start to love it, and NOT going to the gym will make you feel sluggish and like you're missing something. This is how writing is, too, once you get past a certain threshold that will vary from person to person.

    Hope I helped. Congrats on your high word count so far, and good luck with the rest of your novel!
     
  16. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I understand that, my reply was referring to both of your posts, and i mixed in a little of them into mine. Sorry for the confusion. Whether someone wants to become professional or not, the only way to get good at something is by sticking to it when it feels tough. I agree with you 100%.
     
  17. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    thanks everyone for the insight..you are all awesome as usual
     
  18. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    As usual, Mal's advice is spot on. However, I would add this: there are times when you need to refrain from working out, because your body is tired, hurt, undernourished or suffering from an illness; in fact, working out in such circumstances can often do more harm than good. That sometimes happens in writing, too, although obviously not in the same way. There are times when you need to take a break, back off, get a fresh perspective. The tough part is that, like working out, where one risks babying oneself by calling off a workout for insufficient reason, it is easy to allow dissatisfaction with one's work to be an excuse to walk away and do something else. It all boils down to individual judgment. Good luck.
     
  19. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    I figured you got it; that's why it was being nitpicky :)
     
  20. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    I don't ignore my bad writing.
    Usually when I realize the writing sounds horrible, I make a big note of it. If it's a sentence I'll go back and rework it. If it's a paragraph or a chapter though, I'll make a note on a scrap piece of paper, tape it up where I can see it at all times, and continue on with the writing.
    This may not always work for me, I'll admit that, but it is one of my best methods.
    There is cases, like with one of my stories, where the writing just freezes me completely. I usually have a bad habit of walking away from it because I can't focus on it at all, and if I force myself to work with it day after day, it just seems to get worse. I guess it's like a charlie horse in the leg. When you get one, and you ignore it, it gets worse off until it's just too much to deal with. So instead it's better to just sit down and chill until you start to feel better. I say the same applies for writing.

    You can try doing what I've been doing, I've started writing for one hour a day. It doesn't have to be on the story actually. I've spent more then one day just writing anything. Just yesterday, I spent an hour in the forums of a gaming community I'm with writing responses to their threads and posts. It may not be work with a story, but it is a way to get in the habit of writing everyday.
    But others are right. If you plan to become a perfessional writer, you should get used to writing every day. If it's just a hobby, then do it whenever you feel like it I guess.

    But this is just my tid-bit, good luck with your writing.
     
  21. AJSmith
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    AJSmith Senior Member

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    With my first draft I made small/quick fixes as I went, but I did try to use the advice of ignoring the internal editor for the most part. In some cases I used the highlight function for later reference on sections of text that needed work because of prose or plot issues.

    Also, when it comes down to it, you will be revising and revising and editing the work multiple times so I wouldn't worry about fixing things now. Really, if your work is similar to mine at all in process, so many changes are made through revision that many fixes made in draft 1 are pointless. I have cut entire scenes, added many scenes, changed scenes, made plot changes that have impacted dialogue and events in the entire book, and made dialogue changes to better develop my characters. My story is essentially the same, but draft 2 is significantly different than draft 1, and for draft 3, I am again reworking dialogue, removing scenes, adding scenes, etc.

    This is in reference to a 117,000 word novel with a very complex plot (a strategic nightmare), and my process might differ from many others, but the point I am trying to make is that (in my case anyway) it is easy to ignore bad writing on draft 1 because it will all be gone by draft 4 or 5. :)

    As far as writing every day goes, I do think it is important. I am so swamped at work lately that I can't follow that good advice all the time, but I do think it's good advice. When I write every day, my head is in the right place and so even if I just make tiny gains on the unmotivated days, I'm ready to hit the ground running on the motivated days. When I have days between writing and then I get motivated, it takes me a good chunk of time to get into a groove... and figure out what the heck I was last trying to fix (as I am still smoothing out plot elements).
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    why would you want to?... imo, one shouldn't... if your writing is 'bad' you should be working on making it better, not ignoring the fact...

    not to brag, but i honestly have never had this problem... but i don't see why anyone who truly wants to be a good enough writer to have their work published would want to feel ok about writing badly... and you shouldn't be motivated to keep on writing in a way that won't get you published...

    so, instead of forcing yourself to continue churning out bad writing, i'd strongly advise you to put that book aside and spend your daily writing time working on the quality of your work either with a tutor/mentor, or with an online writing course, so that when you get your writing up to marketable levels you'll no longer be discouraged by what you're writing, but will be energized by how well it reads and thus have to force yourself to stop, instead of as now, forcing yourself to start!
     
  23. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think what the OP is referring to is how to resist the urge to fix small errors and plot issues right away and instead move on and finish the first draft. Of course no one wants to ignore them altogether. But sometimes you have to allow yourself to write a less than perfect first draft for the sake of having a finished one to edit, instead of getting stuck on details.
    Personally I think it's better to revise and edit AFTER the first draft is finished, instead of during the process, because when you see those first chapters with fresh eyes (since you hopefully haven't read them much since you started the story) you will see things that weren't obvious at that time and will have a better idea on how to improve them. at least I tend to become blind to eventual problems while i'm in the middle of the writing of a scene or a chapter, but later I can see those things clearly.
     
  24. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i agree that small glitches can wait till one does an edit later, tesoro... but i took the op's questions more literally... hopefully, we'll hear from him about what he actually meant...
     
  25. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    Thanks Mammamaia. But I don't believe all my writing is bad. It happens, sometimes as a sentence, sometimes as a paragraph, or even sometimes a chapter just feels bad to you. It may lack drama, or action, or whatever, or it may just seem bland or boring to me at the time. I don't mean to say that I'm a bad writer, but I will be honest I don't think I am a good one. I want to be a good one, and regardless I find it fun to do so. So I write and feel I get better most of the time. But this question wasn't in regards to writing ability, just a bad chapter or something here and there.
     

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