1. ArcticOrchid
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    ArcticOrchid Member

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    How to find motivation to write when you don´t know how to write?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ArcticOrchid, Feb 27, 2016.

    Reading my material especially the alleged novel that I am trying to work on right now would be like tasting some whisked eggs and say that it is a bad cake. Not only is this particular story an incomplete work in progress but so am I.

    I realise that all writers are constant learners, this is a craft that is impossible to master. However I am up against some unique challenges, I am both dyslexic and dyspraxic and I am trying to write in my second language. I have had this story in my head since I was fifteen and all I really want to is to get this story on paper. I don't want to be a writer for the sake of being a writer, I write to write this story. That's not to say that I don't want to be a writer or don't enjoy the art. I spent all of my childhood stuck in my own head and in daydreams. I used to make up stories and tell my friends and grandmother. I think I have always been a writer, well until my teachers took out that red pen and berated my handwriting...

    My story is a high fantasy with really complex world building. I am starting to realise that attempting it is like running a marathon when you haven't left the sofa for a year.

    I have been dabbling, I have decided to let go my childhood insecurities when it comes to writing and do something about it. I have written a little but it's not good. Not only is the grammar lacking but the sentence structure is odd and too long, the POV is not working, too much internal dialogue that feels forced. To be honest I haven't even started to analyse the dialogue.

    In a way I don't mind because like I said I am an absolute beginner and I wasn't expecting JR Tolkien level writing on my first try (if ever). I know that this is the baseline from where I want improve upon. It isn't the finished product therefore I am happy with it in a way.

    However I had started out with the goal this year to write nearly everyday, whether it be good or bad, I need to write in order to learn to write. But I am hitting constant roadblocks because the project that I chose is so massive. I feel like I am trying to write a symphony when I can barely read notes.

    I have a full time job too and I just feel discouraged and overwhelmed.

    Maybe I should put my big project on the shelf for a little while and focus on just being a writer and not the writer of this story. Maybe do smaller projects like short stories to improve my technique get familiar with the idea of writing creatively (rather than academically).

    Or should I stick with the inspiration that makes me want to be a writer in the first place?
     
  2. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tell me if you figure out an answer to the title because I don't know of one. From my experience, it seems that the thing that separates those who don't write because they're mediocre and those who write in spite of being mediocre is that the latter enjoys writing for its own sake.

    If you want tips on improvement, I'd recommend a) reading some good writing how-to books, allowing you to better know what to look for in step b; b) comb through fiction books you want your writing to be like, copying down fragments/sentences/passages you like and analyzing specifically how each works for what the author intended for it to do; and c) copy the concepts you learned from step b to write your own stories, and when you hit roadblocks, go back to step b looking for the roadblock issue and then continue with step c.
     
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  3. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    It's hard to overcome the self-critical "this just isn't good enough" mindset, but ultimately all you can do it keep writing. I've been at it for pretty much all of my life and I know I'm still not good enough. Personally, I manage to fend off the discouragement because I really love what I'm working on - I wouldn't be able to ignore the stories I love in favor of messing with something that didn't matter to me as much just to get better. So what if your first story turns out not great? You can rewrite it. Rewrite it a dozen times if you have to to make it feel good enough. Why waste time on something you don't care about writing?
     
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  4. ArcticOrchid
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    ArcticOrchid Member

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    The thing is as well. I would love to share some of my material for critique and get an outsider opinion. But to continue with the cake metaphor. When I baked my first cake, it was dry, close textured, hadn't risen properly and a little burned on the edges. But it was still a cake, a bad one with mistakes that were identifiable and went away as I practised.

    I am not that much of a perfectionist, I don't mind that my cakes are sunken and my writing sloppy. But what I have written is not equivalent to a cake. I feel like if I would share it, it would be like offering someone whisked eggs and asking whether they think it could turn out to be a good wedding cake.

    I did another thread asking about some character development and I got some criticisms that my character was incomplete, but of course he is incomplete the process is in its infancy and I found the advice unhelpful.

    Maybe if I start by something smaller, that I find the energy to work more consistently on it and share it in order to get some constructive criticism.
     
  5. ArcticOrchid
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    ArcticOrchid Member

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    Now I am really craving some cake hhahahaha
     
  6. BadCrow
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    BadCrow Member

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    I know that problem all to well my friend, something i did to overcome this is quite simple i wrote down the basics.
    I'm not talking about the world or the character but the red string leading through your story
    The very basics, like: Empire is corrupt --> rebellion --> help from another country --> new king --> new king get murdered -->...
    it sounds terrible but once you have the basics written down you have an anchor. With that anchor you can then get to build the world you want. Use the background stories you compose for your world as your testing muffins. They are made like cake, but smaller and easier to chuck away if they turn out bad. Once you love the muffins you create you can start on the cake. And trust me the cake will be just as delicious as the muffins you made.
    Make folders on you pc for all the muffins and other stuff you need to make (i got a character folder, a landmark folder, a politics folder,...) and above all else take it one word at a time.

    hope that helps, if you would excuse me now i need to make some muffins :p
     
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  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd recommend something smaller, for sure.

    I don't really buy into the idea that short stories are good training for novel-writing - I think there are just too many skills that are completely different between the two types. But it sounds like a lot of the stuff you're struggling with could be addressed via short stories - sentence structure and length, etc.

    So, yeah, I'd write some short stories, something I could finish and be proud of.

    And you can write them in the same universe as your big story and use them as a way to explore your characters' backgrounds or the world-building or whatever, so it's not like you're not contributing at ALL to your magnum opus. But it'll probably be less overwhelming to nibble on a few scraps rather than trying to gnaw on the elephant's rump!
     
  8. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am indeed no expert, but I have a few things to say.

    First of which, kind of funny, of recently my pace as been kind of slow. I just wish to address the irony of me offering advice on how to write more when I myself haven't been writing more, but this isn't a problem for me currently.

    1. Deadlines or expectations. I think these can be helpful and harmful. I think when you tell yourself to do it everyday and fail there is a bit of a blow to your motivation. I also think writing everyday is way to harsh of an expectation. I have a full time job and you have a full time job. And if we have anything in common I bet the following things are true of both of us.

    - Sometimes the work day is long and it feels like you wake up, go to work, come home and sleep.
    - Sometimes, little errands, dishes, laundry, food shopping, other shopping they just steal an entire day from you.
    - Sometimes you are off from work, have nothing to do, but boy do that feel so good. Just to sit back, lay down and turn your brain off for half a day.

    And there are probably even more you could think of or I can think of. Those just feel like the main events that I bet highlight to everyone. Truth of the matter is. I only expect one thing about me to never stop working. My heart! If my heart takes a break... bad things happen. Nothing else I hold to such a standard. Even my mind gets to turn off when I sleep or it feels like it does. lol.

    So, here is my alternate suggestion if you like the idea of a deadline. Have it be weekly. In my experience, it is a lot easier that way. Because in a weekly deadline, you can say "Know what. I am tired today and that is okay. No writing. I will try and write tomorrow instead." And it completely fits the deadline system. Plus I think it is more easy that way anyhow. I much prefer giving it 2 hours on one day, over 20 minutes a day. I think that is a pretty perfect example. Saying "I want to write 30 minutes a day" sounds easy, but as with the example of the above days. Sometimes it isn't. But lets take the number. 30min a day would be 3 and a half hours per week. I personally am much more likely to write for 3 and a half hours in one day and than take the rest of the week off. And I like it better that way. Though, numbers don't matter here. Everyone is different. I personally probably spend about 10 hours a week writing and that is even me being slow. So a 3 and half hour day I will do three times a week. If you do less, lets say 1 hour three times a week. That is still 3 hours or almost the exact same amount as 30 min a day. But to me, it sounds so much easier to do.

    Does that make sense?

    2. Book size. I agree with Bayview. Writing short stories, is not exactly a fix to writing long stories. Actually, I happen to think what most people call a short story is often times more just a scene. And a long novel is stringing those scenes together in a comphrensive way. Which is hard as heck!!! That being said, this is a tricky position. Because in a sense, without experience, it is likely the first big book project you try is not going to be your best. But the story you are wanting to write is an old idea and you want it to be beautiful. Right? I really only see two fixes. You put the old story on hold and write something else purely for experience(which is what I did. I wrote two full books before trying my old story.) Or you give into the fact that if you try this story first you are going to need to revisit it more. I think both are fine positions. Sort of a pick your poison moment?

    3. Expectations and experience. Two years ago. I felt mentally tired after writing one page! Which on average is like 300-600 words. Now? I can write 6,000 words and keep going. The point that you are going to get better. Once you start writing more often, it gets easier. It takes time but look forward to it. :) The thing about expectations, they are killers! When I did my first book. I dived into it like crazy trying to fix and repair it. Making it perfect. I would measure progress and then expect that progress to continue at a fixed rate. I mapped it out expecting for this perfect book to be ready by a year later. That was 3 months ago and the book is still so bad I feel embarrassed to show it now. lol Those kind of expectations can drive you crazy trying to do something that just isn't realistic. I think it is good to be more open.

    4. Personal motivation. I personally love showing my work to people. So that drives me. I want to finish something for the reason of being able to show it. So the more people that are reading my story will cause me to write more. Because I will want the next chapter to be ready soon so they won't have to wait! That is me though. Not sure if it applies to you, but we all have a personal desire just waiting to be unleashed. I don't know what yours is, but if you think about it. You might just be able to find and exploit it. :)
     

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