1. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can only write well when angry

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by OurJud, Sep 8, 2016.

    This might be one of the oddest threads I've started, but I'm finding my best writing comes when I get so angry and frustrated at how lightweight my writing is under normal circumstances, that the bile just churns out onto the screen.

    At one time this frustration would simply result in me giving up and not writing anything at all, but that in itself became an annoyance and I found that angry writing is where I'm best.

    This is a worry. For obvious reasons I'd rather not feel like this, but unless I do my writing comes out pleasant, nice, pretty, and utterly void of any attitude. I write insipid, 1D characters who have nothing to say.

    Another problem is that to reach this stage I have to have written a few thousand words of utter bilge, so that by the time my good stuff wants to take over, it will contrast horribly with what's gone before.

    This is quite a serious problem, I feel, so advice such as 'Find a way to stay in a perpetual state of frustration and anger' aren't really going to help.
     
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Act.

    It's a cliché, the image of the actor agonising before going on stage over "What's my motivation?" But, seriously, the best actors don't act, they become. There's one well-known and very respected actress whom I've never rated; I can always "see the join", see how much acting she's doing, just watch my magnificent acting. With a good actor, he just IS that part. So, find a way to access that "angry" part of you before you sit down to write.

    I have a daughter who gets VERY emotional about things related to her profession; when it's badly portrayed on TV; when another professional just ISN'T professional about the job; etc. Is there something that gets you angry? Man City? Man Utd? The price of beer? Or, even, just thinking about how bland what you wrote last night was?
     
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  3. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, this, but the frustration has to bubbling away, active like a volcano. It's no good if it's dormant and just a depressing realisation. It's when the realisation sets in and creates a depression that I just want to give up.
     
  4. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    You don't need to be angry to write, in my humble opinion. You just need to feel strongly about what you write. And I don't mean that crap like 'I care about what I write', either. This's too intellectual - but as soon as your emotions are engaged you can tap into that. Just don't back away, get into the skin of your characters - and, as @Shadowfax said, if you become them and feel their own frustration writing becomes easy. At least that's how it works for me.
     
  5. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suppose so.

    Maybe I need to be honest and admit to myself that my story doesn't interest me.

    Problem is I don't know how long I can go on trying like this. Everything I write comes to nothing. The process of writing and the work I put it feels so damn futile and pointless. I'm honestly not sure I'll ever find something that will see me through to a completed novel.
     
  6. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Okay, here is my pep-talk. You have stuck at it since when? How many years? A whole lot, judging by the time you joined this forum. One doesn't do that if you don't care about writing a story. You just need to find the right one, or the right characters.
    Happened to me too. If a character is flat, than you don't really care. Solution: Find the right person to write about. I know that this is easier talked about than done, but think outside the box. Look at a completely different genre to get inspiration, or imagine a person who does wrong things, and then find out why he/she would act like that even if he/she could despises what he/she does. You don't want an unlikeable MC, but one who has a dilemma. And then I imagine caring about this person is easy, because you, as the author, has a stake in what happens to the MC.
     
  7. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd be curious to see the difference(s) between the good stuff, the bile and your so-called 'lightweight' writing... just to see if this isn't just you being far too hard on yourself.
     
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  8. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Perhaps you need to reassess what you want to write or how you write. Perhaps you haven't found your genre or sub-genre. Or maybe you need to change your approach from pantser to planner, planner to pantser, or somewhere in between. Or maybe—just maybe—you need to dig into some inspirational or how-to books to rediscover why you wanna write in the first place.

    These are the things I did to break out of ten years of writer's block, but only you will know which (or which combination) may work for you.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Which, from what I've seen, you do have a tendency to do.

    Also, to @Sack-a-Doo!'s excellent suggestions, I would add this - take time out to read other stuff. Not a lot. But maybe go back and read the work that turned you on to the idea of writing in the first place, or even just one that you like a whole lot. Also, read something in a genre you don't usually read, just to shake things up.
     
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  10. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    And don't forget, @OurJud, that as a writer, being hard on yourself comes with the territory. So, don't discount it out of hand.
     
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  11. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    You're a complete fucking twat with stupid hair and an even stupider face.

    Now go and write :)
     
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  12. Elven Candy
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    Elven Candy Contributing Member

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    I have a question: When you're writing angry, are you as careful about making mistakes, or do you just write to get it out? Maybe it's not the anger that helps you write well, but the difference in how you write when you're angry. Maybe you write more emotional scenes, thus they're more interesting, thus you write them better, or maybe you're better at getting in your character's head (my writing always feels bland and boring when I can't seem to get into my character's head). If you can find the core difference between when you write angry and when you write calm, you might be able to get into "write well" mode when you're not angry.
     
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  13. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good question. I wouldn't say I'm less careful, but the words certainly flow more easily and I do far less stopping to rub my chin while I compose a sentence.

    Also, it's more frustration than anger.
     
  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Okay, step back a bit. The stuff you write when you're angry. Is it good writing? Are you pleased with it, once you cool down and read it over with your 'edit' hat on?

    If the answer is 'yes,' then you might well be on to something. When you are angry-writing, are you still working on the same story, or is it a completely different thing you're writing?

    If it's a different story, then maybe you should give your original story a rest (at least for now) and pursue what you were angry-writing about. On the other hand, if it's the same story only you were in a different mood, then see if you can pick out what is different about how it turned out. Maybe get somebody else to have a look at both, and see if THEY can ferret out the difference. You've said that your other writing is insipid. So, forgetting your state of mind, see if you can figure out what shows in your writing. What tone did your angry writing create? What kinds of words did you use? What subject matter were you writing about?

    Rather than trying to get yourself into an angry state all the time, see what you can do to figure out the difference anger makes to your writing. And see if you can re-create that style when you're not angry. I'm a big fan of 'finish what you start,' but perhaps this is one time when you should forget that, and start something new. Start writing something that MAKES you angry? Create a fictional character and situation that, if both were real, would make you furious? See where that takes you?
     
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  15. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good? I don't think I'm the one to make that call, but suffice to say I like it. It reads more like I want my writing to read like. It has more attitude and is more raw.
     
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  16. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    My muse always comes when I'm running. Maybe it's the endorphin. Who knows. The trouble is that this visitation by my muse is not unlike a dream. If I don't get it down quickly, it's lost. And even when I do pencil something down, right after I get home, dripping sweat, by the time I'm done showering and cooled off and had something to eat, the penciled idea has lost its color, its meat, all the other awesome shit I was thinking about it. o_O
     
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  17. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Based on my own experiences, this is an extremely important part of the writing process, at least for us novices (no idea how it goes down on the professional level).

    Let me be clear. I have never finished writing a novel unless it was one that had me so inspired, that the first few nights I stayed up writing till long past midnight (I can virtually never write at night).

    It's also possible to start a novel that you love, and later find yourself uninspired, but that's a different topic.

    Let me say this. In my humble opinion, if you're trying to write a piece, and days go by, and you just CAN'T do it, STOP. Fighting the resistance, at least for me, just makes it collectively worse. Every day you get more and more fatigued, and more and more entrenched in the notion that you cannot write.
     
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  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you don't mind my saying, I've had this issue as well. Actually, many times. What I do is try to limit my muse to three or four ideas (and or sentences) and just repeat it over and over throughout the rest of the run.
     
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  19. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    That - remember Stuart McBride , had no sucess whatsoever with scifi , wrote three or four books but couldnt catch a cold, til a friend suggested that the best thing about his books was the crime and the action,but the sci fi element was lightweight and unbelievable and he should write a crime thriller instead ... Logan Mcrae was born with Cold granite , and hes now published i think 8 logan books, plus three others, and one of his sci fi books (halfhead)
     
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  20. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think this is very true. Having said that I'm glad I decided not to stop in this case, and this is why:

    When I made that post (the one you quoted about wondering if I'd ever finish a novel) my character was trying to escape his misery and had taken himself to Cornwall to 'get away from it all'. As I've never been to Cornwall this meant a fair amount of research using google maps and Street View, etc, and I found myself doing more of this than actually writing. The story, by its very nature, also took on an 'aimless' quality (he'd gone to Cornwall with absolutely no plans) and it was this aimlessness and unfamiliarity with his surroundings that started to get me down.

    So I took a break for a day and then picked it up again, and it was almost as though I possessed the character. I decided, half way through a scene, that these meanderings in Cornwall were stupid and that he (we) had to return home. I didn't think that's what I wanted to do, but it turned out to be the answer to my problem.

    So, until the next time I hit a wall and decide I can't do this, and that I can't write, and that it's too hard and I want to give up (because that day will come again) I'll keep at it.
     
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  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I totally support this notion. It's far too easy to just walk away from a story that's not working. The trick is to make it work. That's what learning the craft is all about. Decide what is 'wrong' about a piece, and if it means discarding a precious idea—as you've just done—do it. Maybe save that precious idea (and all that research) for another story. But in the meantime, keep adding, paring away, shifting perspective and shaping your story until it does work.

    For those people out there who like 'story prompts,' maybe think of what you've written or conceived as if it were a prompt. You have generated a basic idea. Now—how do you shape it into a story?
     
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  22. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    ^THIS!!!

    Nothing we write is perfect on the first attempt. No story is perfectly crafted. Even our characters take time for us to get to know. Once we get started writing, new ideas occur. Sometimes, those new ideas - like your character's trip to Cornwall - don't quite work out. But that doesn't mean the story won't work.

    It can be a long process, this business of making your story work, but it's part and parcel of being a writer. It's part of what we do. And there's nothing quite like the rush of finally breaking down the wall, that "Aha!" moment when it all becomes clear. The trick is to allow yourself the time and space to try things, discard some and keep others.

    Write on, my friend.
     
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  23. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not saying you should abandon a story at the first hiccup, but my concern for the mentality espoused above is that it might overall reduce writing productivity. We only have a finite time to write and get published, and speaking for myself, I've already watched almost half a year go to waste because I was trying to work on projects that I did not want to. So, if you want to get published sooner than later, I think it's important to make the right decisions that allow you to keep writing and producing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016
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  24. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can see the value in both these decisions. Not that I'm sitting on the proverbial bench, but @123456789 point is valid. Luckily, in my case, I was able to battle through, but I see little value in forcing yourself to slog away on something you know in your heart of hearts isn't working.
     
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  25. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, yes. Like most writing advice, it's not absolute. But how many folks on this forum alone keep saying they start stuff and lose interest and never finish anything? I'd say a lot of that can be down to the habit of walking away when something isn't working. I think it's a rare writer who sits down, writes something brilliant first go, changes a word here or there ...and bingo. Publication follows.

    I know I sent my characters down several cul-de-sacs in my first drafts, and had to retreat. When I look back on my very first draft (and that's the completed draft, not the stuff that got chucked out enroute to completion) I hardly recognise the thing. So many events and perspectives have changed since then. It's not just the writing style and sentence structure and word choices that got revamped. A lot of the plot did too. And a couple of characters also got dumped and one got amalgamated into two.

    If you write yourself into a hole, you need to go back to before you fell into it and look for another way around it. If you just quit in disgust, you'll have wasted all the time you spent creating the bones of the story.

    If your story is shallow or silly ...deepen it. If it's fantastically unbelievable, do what you can to make it believable. Maybe downgrade your expectations of what the character is like or can do, and create a different sort of person to carry the story. That will throw up many new situations you can work with. Just don't walk away. (Well, except temporarily, as you take a break to work on something else.) But sooner or later, go back to it. Keep thinking about it. As @EdFromNY says, if you're patient, that 'aha' moment will truly come.
     
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