1. DenizenForeman
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    DenizenForeman New Member

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    I suddenly feel like everything I've ever written is poop.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by DenizenForeman, Aug 25, 2012.

    I keep all of my writing in a fancy 8GB flash drive. It is all sorted by the writing format, genre, etc... There is also a folder full of Blogger templates in there that I've yet to dive into, but that's a different story.

    I feel like I'm at a pivotal point in my life because the other day I read everything on that flash drive, even my old high school term papers, and came to the conclusion that it all sucked. I felt like some of it was too pretentious, or too choppy, or too boring. There was nothing in there I wanted to expand upon. I have a whole folder filled with in-depth character sketches, all done in interview style, and I hated all of my characters! I felt like they were two-dimensional with no clear goals. I like writing character heavy fiction so this was a total blow to my ego.

    Has anyone else had this happen? What does this mean? Should I just give up as a writer? I feel like reformatting my flash drive and starting over again, but what if I want to retrieve that crap later?

    :eek:
     
  2. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I'd never give up, giving up means you're accepting failure as an option. If you truly want to be a writer, you'll learn from them, read the 50 best novels of all time, seeing what makes them tick, and keep writing over and over and over until you've mastered it the best way you can.
     
  3. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    Just keep writing, and reading stories that you enjoy. It's good that you recognise your weaknesses, better than thinking your high school term papers were flawless. You don't have to go back and expand on old work, move forward- if there are ideas you like use them again in a different way.

    In-depth character interviews don't necessarily result in deep characters, sometimes you just end up with a bunch of trivia or, worse, rigidly designed characters that have no room to grow as you write. Perhaps instead of doing these sketches you could try briefly establishing your characters and their goals and obstacles, and then just start writing and see if your characters come to life that way.
     
  4. luna claire
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    luna claire Senior Member

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    I agree with the above comments. I think means that you can look at your work objectively, and that's good. I have had similar experiences. I have written something, thinking it was my best work yet, put it away and forgot about it and then found it later, read it and realized that it was AWFUL! It's sometimes frustrating but I see it as an indicator that I am growing as a writer. Keep at it. Writing in my opinion is a mix of determination, dedication and practicing/honing the craft. Don't get discouraged and good luck.:)
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Hey, the fact that you can recognize a flaw is great! It's the ones that strut around thinking they're Hemmingway
    or the next JK Rowling that are doomed. Not to say you shouldn't believe in yourself, but you should be as
    Luna Claire said, objective.

    Now that you know your weak point is characters - start working from there.
    A good way to get away from two demential characterization is don't think in
    terms of labels - think in terms or action & speech.

    Get away from labeling your character say - a hero - focus on what he does that
    makes him heroic - keeping in mind that each act a person does has a flip side. Hero's
    usually happen when the hero is afraid to react but charges through anyway.
     
  6. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    I almost started laughing when I read your post . . . because the same thing's happened to me a couple times.

    I took it as a sign that I was maturing in my writing - even though I've only been writing for about a year and a half.
     
  7. The Hollow
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    The Hollow Member

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    Whatever you do, DON'T WIPE YOUR FLASH DRIVE! I've deleted things over the years that I wish I could recover. Just buy another 8GB flash drive (they're like, $10) and start fresh from there if you must. You can't go wrong just keeping your stuff on file in case you need to go back and look at something.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Put the flash drive away in a cool dry safe place (preferably backing it up so you have two copies stored in two different places) and trust that a later version of you will know how to turn some of that material into better work.

    Then get a new drive (and a second one for backing it up too!) and start fresh, without feeling the baggage of your old writing right in front of you. For most people, writing is not about innate talent that will show itself easily, it's about working and working and racking up one improvement after another.
     
  9. DanesDarkLand
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    DanesDarkLand Senior Member

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    I had the same problem when I first started writing almost ten years ago. Every time I put it down and then picked it up a year later, I would look at it and say, WTF? The more you write, the older you get, and the more experience, real life experience you get, the early work will seem like its not up to snuff.

    When I really started to write in earnest about a year ago, there is still a difference in the way i write from then up to now. Your writing will evolve and change as you age and mature.

    Don't look at your old work as garbage, or sewage to flush. Look at it as raw data, ideas that will find new life later on. You may find your writing will be missing that one unique character, but if you erase your stuff, you'll never find the template. You'll have you rebuild that person from memory or scratch.

    Ever see a movie where a car crash, or traumatic event seems to be in slow motion? Ever experience it in real life? You don't have infinite time to contemplate life, or your life does not flash before your eyes. Its an event that hurts, but the impact of the car doesn't get through the trauma at first. Your body reacts. Your mind reacts to stimuli, and your thoughts seem to disappear as you try to react to that trauma. That's where life fills in the blanks that is missing from previous work. The details that were missing in your first round will get filled in by your mind in how you react to those events now. You may end up rewriting entire scenes in order to make the event work, and even change the flavor of what you were saying originally. There is nothing wrong with that.

    The crime would be in thinking that what you wrote originally was trash and sewage. its raw material. Save it, and refer back to it. if anything, remember that your work now will reflect your maturity and how you've grown as a writer. It might even become a sort of writing timeline. This is how my style was in ....., followed by my style in 2012. This is how I write now in 2020.
     
  10. Michelle Stone
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    Michelle Stone Member

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    Yup. It happens all the time. I wish I could go back and rewrite EVERYTHING. But you know what? Every once in a while, I'll pull out something I've written, polish it a bit, throw in a different character, or scene, and it comes out pretty good. I liken it to cello playing (yes, I'm a cello geek). It has taken my whole life to learn how to just draw a note without creating mass mayhem. Why should writing be different? Those who are really good don't just wake up and say, "I'm going to write a spy novel and make a million bucks."

    Successful writing is in some ways more demanding than recent decades. Yes, there is a bunch of crap out there. But readers have become quite sophisticated. The old Perry Mason mystery just won't cut it anymore. You really need a clever trick, down trodden characters, and really rotten devious villains to differentiate yourself from the pack.
     
  11. JamesOliv
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    JamesOliv Senior Member

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    Have you,ever read a series where the books seem to keep getting better and better?

    The more you write, the better you get at it (usually). The older you get, the more experienced you become. Experience and maturity are lenses through which we view our work. What you're feeling isn't abnormal. I'd say it's a good sign. It shows your work is developing over time
     
  12. Crystal Parney
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    Crystal Parney Member

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    I've felt the same way. I think most writers do. Sometimes I wonder if it has to do with mood. Sometimes I will go back and read something and this is great, I am proud of myself, then I will go back and a few weeks later and read it again and think, this kinda sucks!
     
  13. DenizenForeman
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    DenizenForeman New Member

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    I want to thank everyone for the replies. I've decided to just buy a new drive and starting from scratch. I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one who has gone through this. The worst part is when people tell you they like what you've written but you just can't get over how much you dislike the piece. Maybe I'm over critical. It's nice to know I'm not alone, though.
     
  14. JamesOliv
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    JamesOliv Senior Member

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    I received a rejection from an agent once that said "You write well, but I can't sell what you sent me." he followed up with a very detailed critique of my style. It was more than I could ever hope for from a big LA.

    Writing well is half the battle. Maybe the story doesn't resonate here and now. Put it in a drawer. maybe in ten years it will be a commercial hit.

    During his lifetime, Van Gogh was considered a nut who lobbed off an ear. Now just try to buy one of his paintings. Sometimes the story you are trying to tell just doesn't match up with the time period or geographic setting in which you are trying to tell it.
     
  15. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with what they others have said - I'll just add that I am sure there will be a couple of gems in your past writing so do hang on to it.
     
  16. TrinityRevolution
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    TrinityRevolution Member

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    OH God yes!!

    I wrote my first book, read back through it a month later and nearly burst into tears it was that devastating.

    So I rewrote it, and then again (probably done 300+k words for a 89k book).

    Now, I think it's OK, but still has some damn work to be done. It really is a real b*tch to be honest. Writing is a hard slog!

    However I've come to the conclusion I'll never be 100% enamoured with it.



    Perseverance is what separates writer wannabes from the writers.
     
  17. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    But it's an encouragement to be able to look back and say "Hey actually, that isn't so great" because it means you've improved. Few of us love our old writing. The ideas themselves may still be good, it just means they need a little developing, if you can be bothered instead of creating something new altogether. Heck, I read stuff I wrote just 1 years ago and I cringe. It's just a fact of constantly improving and moving up :)

    In short, don't give up.
     
  18. Cristian
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    Cristian Member

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    It's a stage... it happens to the best of us. Keep calm and continue writing. :)
     
  19. maidahl
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    maidahl Banned

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    Should I just give up as a writer?<--Your question. Your choice.
     
  20. dubi qubu
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    dubi qubu Member

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    My study skills high school teacher used to advise us to,when taking a break after studying,avoid thinking about all that we studied to rejuvenate our minds. I recommend the same. shelf your material for later usage and you'll be surprised by how your high school info may look and sound new. In the eyes of an artist nothing is obsolete. All the best
     

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