1. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    How to get over writing insecurities?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Safety Turtle, Sep 27, 2016.

    I've discovered that in the past 2 weeks or so, after I started reading and participating on this forum and reading various things about writing in general (especially the QueryShark blog) my confidence in my writing ability have taken a huge nosedive.

    I found that my english isn't nearly as good as I thought it was and that may way of story telling probably isn't desirable (at least from my point of view) and have found that it's slowed down my writing a lot and have caused me to question everything I write and doubt it.

    Granted, this is my first attempt at a novel and my first attempt at something that wasn't fan fiction or a school writing assignment.

    Have anyone else been through this and how did you get over it?
     
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  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    1) Remember that we all begin at the beginning. Yes, there are some who start with a natural gift, and bully for them, but the rest of us have to work at it.

    2) Remember that - like anything - when you can hide behind the mask of the internet, it's easy to make yourself appear to be more confident, more successful, and more adept at things than one really is. There are a lot of digitally inflated egos and not much in the way of people being open about their shortcomings. In short, it's a skewed view of things.

    3) The fact that you're willing to be open and honest about the work you feel you need to put in to get to where you want to be puts you ahead of many, if not most.

    4) You have to work at it, and the great thing is that you can work at it with little in the way of cost other than your time and your commitment.

    Take heart, mejn vriend, we're all on the same journey. :bigwink:
     
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  3. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Or as Indiana Jones would say: "Fly yes...Land no." :supergrin:
     
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  4. NoGoodNobu
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    NoGoodNobu Senior Member

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    I fully understand what you're feeling. I've been writing stories since I was 5 or 6, and reading them or having them read to me since as far back as I can remember.

    But the older I got, the more I recognized excellence in writing & consequently the less content I was with my own. I was a pretty cocky 7 year old, a fairly confident 12 year old, a little skeptical 15 year old, and ultimately an utterly terrified 26 year old.

    I spent 9 months writing three paragraphs, only 5 sentences of which I actually am fairly . . . satisfied with?

    My problem is I want to be brilliant, but I also know I'm nowhere near as clever as I ought to be for my ambitions. It also didn't help that people all thought I was some prodigy when I was a child. But like my dabbling in art--out of all mankind where most can't do stick figures, of course yes I'm fairly impressive. But if we jump to the scale of only people who actually have some basic knowledge & ability of drawing as the start, I am actually fairly pathetic.

    I just became more aware of myself & my limitations as I've grown up & been more exposed.

    I don't know how to personally get out of the funk myself, as I'm still struggling to get more words on the page, if even another paragraph or two.

    But ultimately, I love telling stories. And it's my deep seated desire & adoration of stories that will never let me complete leave off, however disheartened or frustrated I am. I will always come back around.

    And I think in the end we just got forget ourselves, let go of our blasted ego, and just let ourselves enjoy it.

    Try. Know your limitations, but push the boundaries. Do anything. Do something. Just try.

    This is meant as much at myself as towards you~
     
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  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    The way to improve as a writer is to 1) write, 2) either have someone else read it or lay it side-by-side with a published work you respect, 3) make corrections, and 4) write some more. It's often not comfortable. And you will get advice that is wrong. But it's really the only way.

    Good luck.
     
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  6. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    And for @NoGoodNobu as well. If you like telling stories, that is 90% of writing. The rest is just mechanical techniques. And @Safety Turtle, judging by the fact that you live in Copenhagen, English may not be your first language. Don't worry about it, a good editor, or just a friend who is a native speaker, can help you with that. Don't let it slow you down. Just tell your story, let it out! And don't compare yourself with others, you are not them, and they can't tell your story.
     
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  7. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    My five cents: Take one problem at a time. Don't get discouraged because there are so many ways a story (or writing it) can go wrong, tackle them piecemeal. Yes, that means going backwards rather a lot, even sometimes starting over and over. Give it to someone to read, and ask for clarification.

    I learn by doing and not by theoretical learning, so a whole lot I read at the beginning of my forum time made sense but I couldn't apply it as my skill wasn't good enough. I didn't even think about it much, because -> points at the beginning of this paragraph. I just wrote and worked at one point that DID make sense and which I could remember easily. After a time it became second nature. And then the next bit made sense and I applied that. You get the picture.

    Also, don't get stuck on one Alpha reader, get several opinions. If one says it is fine, the next one probably will tell you where you can improve (still) on technique. And read a lot of blogs, but it sounds like that you have been doing that :)

    Keep on it - and know that writing is not called a 'craft' for nothing. I started a year back, and only now I feel like I know a bit what I am doing. Learning writing is never over, you only get better in identifying the next level of things you could do better.
    Stick at it, it'll pay off, I promise!
     
  8. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I think it's normal for writers to question everything and have insecurities right before they get better. Forums like this are great, but remember to expose yourself to books and literature. Reading other stories will fast track your improvement for more than anything else. That's my opinion and what has proven to work for me. We all go through times of insecurities and self doubt. It can just mean you've learned a better way to tell a story than when you started. Take what you have learned from when you started and apply it to your work and your writing. BTW -- I never would have guessed that English is not your first language from you posts. I'm sure I would feel a little insecure writing in another language. Use the feelings like this to fuel your writing. When any writer becomes aware of problems in their work, it probably means they are ready to fix those problems.
     
  9. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    I have thought about alpha readers, even though I'm only one and a half chapter in, hoping it may bring some encouragement or at least let me know what "level" I'm at, so to speak.

    I think one of the things that really made me doubt what I'm doing was reading the Query Shark blog, because there's all these "don't do this" and "don't do that".
    The goal is to get published one day and then when I see all those correction that I didn't even think about myself...I guess it just made me wonder if I was cut out for this sort of thing.

    Storytelling is my main thing though, it's what I enjoy and so far I've mainly done it through GM'ing roleplaying groups, which is an entirely different monster (no pun inteded) from something like a novel.
     
  10. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since everything else I want to say has already been covered: read Stephen King's On Writing.

    Specifically, the parts where he shows how bad his first drafts were before tidying them up a bit ;)
     
  11. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Really? Five sentences in nine months? Sounds like you're facing some writers block. I don't know how you could be satisfied with that. Even the best five sentences don't usually take nine months to write. I hope you get passed whatever is preventing you from telling your story.
     
  12. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    For myself, Alphas have helped me enormously. I gave out each and every scene as soon as I was satisfied with it, and applied what they adviced ruthlessly to the current and previously written ones - and each subsequent scene got better because of their dedication and help. Don't be afraid of not taking every single advice out there, your own method may be completely different :)
     
  13. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    I may just try and find some in the near future then.
    May be just what I need.
     
  14. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I actually just thought of something else: what's your usual writing style in terms of Planning versus Pantsing –

    Outlining as much as possible ahead of time before working on the text itself
    Writing by the seat of your pants and figuring everything out as you go

    (I tend to skew about 75% in the direction of Planning)
    – and could it possibly be worth giving the other end of the spectrum a try if your current method hasn't worked yet?
     
  15. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    I'm a pantser, a legacy from my GM days where I started out as a planner but quickly learned that the players care little for your plans ^^
     
  16. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In that case, I would absolutely recommend going back to what came more natural to you the first time. Readers can't disrupt your plans the way players can ;)
     
  17. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    I feel more comfortable as a pantser though as I feel like I get to wrote more ^^
     
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  18. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Query Shark is far in the future for you. There are two conflicting parts of writing that should not be mixed.

    Creative writing is spontaneous, enjoyable, and works best when you constantly focus on what a great piece of work this is going to be, because that will get you to the end.

    Query Shark is dealing with the administrative part of writing, which is editing, but for SPaG and structure. And editing, by its nature, is critical... it has to be. You go from what a great piece of work is to "how do I get this piece of crap whipped into shape for marketing" If you mix the self-criticism of editing with the creative spark of writing that first draft, the creative spark will quickly flicker and go out under the withering criticism.

    DO NOT WRITE FOR MARKETING. Your work will likely wind up mechanical and stale. Write that first draft for your self and enjoy every minute. The drudgery comes with the editing, but if you have told a story you love, you can get through it, and it probably will be in good shape when you start. That isn't to say you can't do low level editing as you write... I check spelling, grammar and sentence structure at the end of every paragraph (I have highlighting turned on to help with that in Word). At the end of each chapter I go over it again for structure and SPaG, did I use the right tag lines, etc. Then I give I give it my wife for her comments/corrections. Then it is DONE (with some few exceptions) until the first draft is finished. Don't look back and keep tweaking and rewriting. If there is something you want to change, put a comment or a sticky note or record it in your journal but the only direction, for me at least, is forward for the first draft.

    I know, I fell into the editing trap 15 years ago, and it sat unworked on for 12 years.
     
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  19. NoGoodNobu
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    NoGoodNobu Senior Member

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    I was going to flatly contradict you on writer's block, but then I realized that depends on how I'm interpreting the definition of writer's block. Which I realized in all probability is not what the actual definition is.

    So that's probably completely accurate. Yes. Definitely. Absolutely.

    I know what I want to write, I know how I want to define or describe these characters, and I know exactly what happens. I even have lots of other portions of the story written in various excerpts of action or dialogues. I just can't seem to master my narration, or pick the words & sentences to tie all these things together.

    And, because this question seems to somehow always pop up, I am neither a planner or a "pantser." It just happens however it happens. I suppose I'm subject to the muse, for whenever an idea hits--it hits. Sometimes the ideas happen sequentially with perfect chronology, and it comes all pre-planned out with a beautiful roadmap for my writing to follow. Sometimes I get random blurbs at sporadic junctions that I just play along with, leaving the figuring out of the rhyme or reason & how they all inter-connect for a later time.

    I think a lot of my problem is I am rubbish at forcing myself to write unless I'm in a creative mood. But I find the moments I'm inspired are the very times I can't do anything about it, because I'm working & doing active tasks that I can't simply break away from to jot these things down. So I lose these ideas or dialogues or narration, or else simply lose the oppurtunity to write well. If I could utilize my creative moods or the stirrings of the muse, I probably could have half the book in three days. Like when I was young & in school, it was so easy to blow off the tasks I was meant to be doing & dive right into the distractions of creative writing whenever the mood struck. (This is probably why I got diagnosed back then with ADD, actually. . .) I was fairly prolific then, but sadly adult responsibilities aren't nearly so lenient or flexible.

    My problem is I'm very critical analytical, and I'm very passionate & impulsive; I'm always simultaneously both, but only one is ever dominate at a time. And I can't write creatively when my brain is in critical thinking mode. I'm too mechanical, so it comes out forced & clunky. I can write fluidly & effortlessly only when I'm in a creative state.

    And while these are very apt & accurate explanations of me, they can't be excuses for not writing or even writing well. There's always going to be something barring me, and I have to find ways to get over it. I want to write, so there's no other choice but to keep pressing on.

    (And to be clear, I wrote more than 5 sentences--it's just only 5 sentences out of the three paragraphs are probably gonna make the cut. I do not think they are the "best" sentences, but they are good sentences and they express what I need them to express and they flow.

    But yes, this is definitely a real problem. . .)
     
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  20. cydney
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    cydney Banned

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    Try a little humor. :) Hasn't worked for me 100% yet but I'm working on it! And it helps.

    I know - silly comment. But being able to laugh about something, or see it in a lighter frame of mind always helps me.
     
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  21. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    My wife, for her writing, which is like yours, spontaneous and often when she is away from the computer, keeps a notepad to write longhand for later retrieval. That way the muse's voice is not lost. She also blocks out some time at a quiet coffeehouse, to write in her notebook.
     
  22. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I've corresponded with a few writers who struggle with ADD, and it's not an easy task for them to write. They really do need to be able to jump on the inspiration when it comes, because it's difficult for them to retain the enthusiasm and the vision for later on. I am in awe of their ability to manage at all, never mind write. One fellow in particular has fantastic ideas and the ability to turn out really REALLY good scenes. His grasp of dialogue and his ability to create a subtle character using dialogue is really good. Unfortunately, he struggles to pull it all together and finish a story because he keeps getting sidetracked.

    I don't suffer from ADD, but I have found one thing VERY helpful when I feel I'm stuck. I've got a 'walk' I can take that gets me out of the house for about an hour (door to door), and if I go early in the morning, I don't meet people I need to speak to or have to deal with traffic. It's a fairly quiet walk through a few neighbourhoods, so I don't have to think about where I'm going or pay attention to road signs, etc. I carry a notebook with me, and I find that the ideas really start to flow when I'm doing that walk. I come home with all sorts of scribbled things. Plot point connections. Snippets of dialogue. Sudden eureka moments that provide solutions to problems I've been working on.

    If you're the sort who gets ideas when you're being active, this might be a great way to preserve some of the ideas you have.
    Yes, it does mean you'll need to be in a position to take frequent walks like this, but if you could work something like that into your day, it might help.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
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  23. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have about an hour's drive from home to work, and another back, but the drive is mostly autopilot cruise. I find that is a good opportunity to play and replay a scene or puzzle over a character's motivation. Obviously notebooks are out of the question - never write and drive! - but I find when I have formed the scene firmly in my mind, I can transcribe it easily. Several others in our local writers' group use this technique.
     
  24. nataku
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    nataku Member

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    The first and most important thing is to stop comparing yourself to others. You are your own person and you write your own way. While it's not like others here that doesn't make it bad or undesirable. The second step is to ask yourself why you write. Do you write because you love writing or is it just to be successful? If you start writing because you love to write then success will come eventually and you will find more enjoyment in writing. I find that many writers have a lot of stress due to the success of others and their desire to be successful leading to insecurities. As someone who made stories since before she could write I always found that because I loved making stories and later writing them down I wasn't held back by a need to succeed or by others disliking my work. I took what I could learn from their reviews and continued to write. It's important that you remember that anyone who creates a story is a writer no matter how good or bad and that if you love what you do you'll generally succeed much more than if you do something purely to succeed and make money. So stop stressing over everything and the rest will come eventually. (This from someone who suffers from anxiety disorder)
     
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  25. Crybaby
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    Crybaby Contributing Member

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    Today, I have taken the same nose dive. On the verge of tears if I'm being honest. I have written my second draft, which has been floating around for about four years. I wouldn't class it as anything ground breaking either, but I had fun writing it and some others have read it and said its good. The thing is, I can't edit to save my life...hence the nose dive. Some days are better than others but today :supermad::cry:
    I spend my waking hours reading creative writing tips like you wouldn't believe. Learing how to structure sentences and all that stuff but all the tips and advice doesn't want to stay in my head. As you can tell from the sentences above this one. Have you ever felt like you've left it too late to learn? I work full time and so the weekend is my time to spend on my hobby, writing.
    Oh dear, see, I am having one of those, feel sorry for yourself days. :superwhew::superfrown::unsure::cry:
     
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