1. happyspace
    Offline

    happyspace New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0

    How to prevent one's writing from being a diary

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by happyspace, Jan 20, 2011.

    Hello everyone,

    I'm new to this forum and new to writing.

    I've been doing improvisations and stream of consciousness type exercises regularly to get things going and I've found that I end up writing a whole lot of inner thoughts, past experiences and so on. It doesn't bother me as such as these are purely exercises but then when I try to write more "creatively", although the shell might be totally unrelated to my life, my own emotions and life story keeps creeping into the work. I find it irksome especially since I'll be starting a writing course in a couple of weeks and I don't want my improvs and exercises to be full of my life stories.

    Can anyone comment on this and how to get around it?
     
  2. The Degenerate
    Offline

    The Degenerate Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2011
    Messages:
    197
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Well, the first thing you're bound to hear at your writing course is "Show, don't Tell," which sounds like your problem. Spend more time setting up scenes in your writing and disperse inner-dialogue throughout the course of said scenes instead of dumping the abstract thought into every paragraph.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. HeinleinFan
    Offline

    HeinleinFan Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2007
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    33
    1. It's perfectly natural for beginning writers to slip details into their character that are from the writer's life. In small amounts, it's fine.

    2. If your character has more than 1 "borrowing" from you per 5 pages, then you need to be concerned.

    3. When you focus on "What does this scene need to include?" and "What do I need to tell the reader about this character?" it gets easier to cut out the irrelevant information. Easier to identify as well. Does the reader really need to know that Sabrina likes chocolate cupcakes with strawberry frosting and purple sprinkles, just because the author likes that, too? No. So cut it. (Same for the character having once twisted an ankle while hiking because the author did that, or getting a crush on someone who later turned out to be gay because the author did that, or getting to meet the President at a rally because the author did that.)

    4. Keep writing. We all make mistakes. As a beginning writer, you'll probably make a lot of mistakes. We all did, too. (And still do -- hell, I've turned in a story where I accidently changed the character's name midway through, and I'd been writing for more than eight years when I did that!) But if you keep writing, you'll find over time that the errors become fewer and your skill and confidence will grow.
     
  4. Trilby
    Offline

    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,098
    Likes Received:
    69
    Location:
    NE England
    Of course your own emotions creep into your writing - don't knock it, go with it.

    Who would be better at describing the emotions of a bereaved person than a person that has experienced bereavement?
    Who is better placed to describe the thrill and pain of ones first love, than a person that has experienced it?
    If you have first hand experience of the things you are writing about your fictional writing will be far more crisp, than if you have to depend on saucing you material from the secondary experiences of others.

    Stop worrying and write your fiction from the heart.
     
  5. Fiona
    Offline

    Fiona Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2011
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    UK
    I agree with the above.

    When you write creatively, from the heart, parts of you will slip into that writing. You can't seperate yourself from what you create. You can think "outside of yourself" but even then, we can't stop our own feelings, thoughts and influences from having an impact- no matter how big or small.

    Trust it and go with it. Of course, when writing fiction, the aim is to explore characters, worlds and mind-sets that are not our own, but we are limited - our knowledge and imagination itself is shaped by our own experiences in life.

    Just try to be mindful of it, as you write. Try and get into the head of your character, try and explore things outside of yourself, research things, learn things you wouldn't ordinarily learn about....but there is nothing wrong with shadows of yourself slipping into the colour of your work.

    I think, as artists and as creative people, we can draw from our own experiences. We can't take ourselves out of our own head, our own hearts. As long as we make an effort to create chracters who are not just like us - try to think "outside the box" so to speak, we will be fine. Don't get too comfortable with your writing. Try and write characters who are nothing like you, as an exercise, and see where it takes you. Pretty soon, if you get it right, these characters on page will come to life for you and will have thoughts and ideas of their own. You can end up surprised and shocked at the way they respond or react to things. They become their own people.

    But I certainly don't think there is anything wrong with your own feelings and experiences sneaking into your work.

    Good luck :)
     
  6. Terry D
    Offline

    Terry D Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2011
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Southeast Iowa
    I agree with Fiona, anything you write will be influenced by who you are. It is inevitable. The trick is in figuring out how to disguise yourself. Like an actress slipping into a new role the writer has to decide what costume to wear in each piece. To do that you first must decide what the current story, poem, essay, or whatever, is about. Then you can choose how to approach it. Creative writing isn't about 'stream-of-consciousness, it is about telling stories -- sometimes fictional, sometimes not -- and every story requires that we make choices about how we are going to expose ourselves to the world.

    One creative writing teacher I had would give us assignments by setting up a situation (usually two or three so we could choose) and then having each student write about the same situation. All of the resulting stories were different, of course, because the same situation was passed through different filters (students). So don't worry about putting too much of yourself into your writing. You can't prevent it.
     
  7. FrankABlissett
    Offline

    FrankABlissett Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2008
    Messages:
    422
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Sault, Michigan
    Don't worry about it at all on first draft. Just write what feels natural, and if it is too autobiographical for your taste, you can adjust it during a rewrite.

    -Frank
     
  8. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    ...i don't see how it can be a problem, if you simply exercise your imagination instead of [or at least much more than] your memory...

    ...put a mental ban on 'i' and 'me' and 'my' when you write and you should be ok...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  9. happyspace
    Offline

    happyspace New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks everyone for your encouraging responses. A few things for me to think about and try.
     

Share This Page