1. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    I think I'm a shitty writer...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by jo spumoni, Feb 13, 2012.

    Until now, I never doubted for a second that I was a decent writer. But all of a sudden, I look at what I've written before and what I try to produce now and it seems like nothing's any good. One of my favorite story ideas, the one that I was so sure was going to carry through to the end, is stagnating on its 50th page, and perhaps 10 or 15 of those 50 pages are no good in any case. I set it aside and started working on a short story that started out great and then got stuck in an idiotic place. I posted a paragraph in another forum, and they told me the prose was purple. I was distressed because they were completely right: it was hopelessly purple, and I didn't even notice!

    Being a bad writer shouldn't bug me, I know. I'm young, and still learning the craft. But it really does. I want to be good at everything I try. I thought I really had some ability in writing, and now I just feel like I suck.

    I have to break out of this funk one way or another because it's driving me crazy, but short of taking a long hiatus from writing (which I have been doing for a few weeks already), I don't know what to do. I simply have no ideas on what to write about and nothing seems very appealing. :confused:

    I'm sorry for the negative rant, but I needed to say all of this to people who understand (I hope). Anyone else had this problem? How do you talk yourself out of the blues?
     
  2. PumpkinLord45
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    PumpkinLord45 New Member

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    You have to keep writing to become a better writer.
     
  3. Foxe
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    Foxe Active Member

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    The best you can really do is keep your chin up and keep praticing. Just like an instrument, you'll get better as you practice. Nothing comes naturally.
    But I know how you feel, you want something, a sign, a finished product that gives you a bit of a boost; a quick success to prove to yourself that you're not hopeless. I suggest just keep writing short stories, and if you have trouble with that, write them even shorter and write longer ones as you get the hang of it.
    I feel the same, but I keep doing it, at least for myself.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I believe that a thought of that type is a necessary stage in a writer's growth. But the ones who do go on to become good writers are the ones who don't let that realization drive them out of writing.

    Another way to think of it is, "I have much room for improvement." So start identifying the weak points.

    Of course, it could just be the destructive inner voice, the one that says, "You're a loser who will never amount to anything." Tell that voice to suck it. It isn't worth listening to.

    How do you tell the difference? The destructo voice never has anything specific to point out, so you could actually improve.
     
  5. naturemage
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    naturemage Active Member

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    I graduated with a psychology degree, so forgive me for putting it this way, but perhaps I can help.
    People with depression start that way because they find something in their life that is bad, and they start thinking about it too much. Instead of finding help, and fixing it, they just sit there and worry more about it. Worrying more, they put themselves deeper into depression.
    The point I am trying to make is thinking you're a bad writer will put you into a cycle. You'll think you're a bad writer, which will cause you to write badly (even if you didn't before), which will make you think you're an even worse writer. It'll only get worse.
    I'm not sure what you can do to get yourself out, find something that makes you happy. But my advice: DON'T think you're a bad writer. You're LEARNING, as are the rest of us. Take a look at some of the threads, get some ideas of how to fix things, maybe post your "problem pages" on WF to get some help. But don't think you're a bad writer. It'll bring you further down.
     
  6. 1000screams
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    1000screams Member

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    I hit that point a several years ago. Got depressed. Kept writing. At some point things click and you stop hating what you write. You have to write a lot of shit to weed out the good stuff.
     
  7. Mark_Archibald
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    Mark_Archibald Active Member

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    Every great in literature, sports, broadcasting, etc was a noob at one point.

    In my case I thought I was a great writer at 16 and thought I had what it takes to get my short story compilation published... I look back at what I wrote back than and it so bad I'm ashamed.

    I know you're anxious to write something people will love, but right now isn't the time.

    It will take a lot of work. You might think your abilities are at there peak, but if you read 50 pages a day, write 1,000 words a day, and come back one year from now you will see a noticeable improvement in your skills. Some authors have to gym rat there way to success and outwork their peers.

    Set a long term goal for yourself like having a novel published in 5 years. That might seem far away but time flies and February 2017 will be here before you know it.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This happens to me all the time. On Tuesday I can read over something I wrote a while ago and think it's brilliant, but then I read the same piece on Wednesday and I think it's garbage. Embarrassing garbage. Then, on Thursday, it's great again. Who knows what I'll think of it next week?

    Hemingway once said that the first thing a writer needs is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector. Mine is incomprehensibly wonky. Maybe I should only reread my stuff during certain phases of the moon.
     
  9. Doug Moore
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    Doug Moore New Member

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    Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge-Charles Darwin-

    Been there many times myself but I describe it differently. I've stopped working on a particular piece,once for over a month. It's like I've wrote myself into a corner.Most times it's simply because I tried to force something to make a point or I went a little heavy on the salt and pepper instead of a light sprinkle throughout. When I look at it, I realize I've taken a wrong turn somewhere and must turn back and find out where I messed up.It's a lot of work, which makes this decision so hard.

    Don't stop writing. When I'm stuck in a corner, I move on to poetry, lyrics or a short story. Anything to keep the juices flowing. I wouldn't worry to much. I'd worry more if you were too cocky. When someone is hard on themselves it tells me they may be a bit of a perfectionist and they strive to put out the best material possible. That's not a fault.

    Doug
     
  10. Enzo03
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    Enzo03 Member

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    Nonononono. I'm a shitty writer. I haven't even managed to get started on a story :D

    Mostly joking. My problem is that I can't be pleased by even the first stuff I write in a story. I have a horrible tendency to read what I have written and think too hard about it.

    I have been told I should try not doing so and I fail at this miserably.
     
  11. UberNoodle
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    UberNoodle Senior Member

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    Have you considered that the reason you think those ideas or works aren't any good is that you've gotten better, or changed or are creatively diverging from where you were before. Break up with the past and start dating the present. be prepared to jump ship any time now, for the future. ;)
     
  12. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Look, first of all, you must believe in yourself. If you don't believe, nobody else will either.
    The thing with writing is, it is not a skill we are born with. It needs several things to come together at once, for us to produce work we are really proud of.
    First thing is talent, but that doesn't amount to much. It is essential but on its own, doesn't equip you with all the storytelling skills. One thing that helps is reading. Lots. And various literature, classics are a must, so are all the great works of literature. This broadens your horizons and gives you a first hand knowledge of what it looks like when it's done well. Then, you need life experience. Someone in school, or young, will be missing a lot of experiences which will limit the topics they can write about competently. And then, there is actual writing practice. It doesn't have to be only in creative writing, but essays, thesis, reports, all that goes towards learning to precisely express yourself. And then, there is actual learning of writing skills specific to the fiction writer.
    So in reality, it takes some time to start producing really good stuff, and even writers who took up writing as a profession very early on, will still be producing substandard stuff until later. Substandard in their opinion, or by comparison to later stuff.
    So don't worry, it will take time and just because you wrote some purple prose at this stage, means nothing, you are still honing your skills.
     
  13. Dragon Boy
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    Dragon Boy Member

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    It's alright to doubt yourself, however you must not give too much weight to everyone's opinion. You will never be able to please everyone with your writing as everyone has different tastes (Just a quick browse through the forums will confirm this!). If you identify any flaws in your writing, then by all means address them, and if you lack inspiration for a story you can leave it for a while and start another project as you just did. No one said this was going to be easy !

    On a side-note, your story will be perfect right away, that is what editing is for. You will have to make a couple of drafts and edit it heavily before it looks like a finished product.
     
  14. The Magnan
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    The Magnan Active Member

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    You're probably not as bad you think, just keeping writing, perservere and conquer.
     
  15. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    First of all, it's great that writing is important to you. Also that you want to improve. Bear in mind some writers with pretty awful style still get published.

    Until now, I never doubted for a second that I was a decent writer. (You just scribbled away, enjoying yourself, maybe? There’s no sin in that) But all of a sudden, (I don’t think it happened so suddenly, did it? Or if it did, what was the trigger? Are you overtired, or taking on too much perhaps?)

    I look at what I've written before and what I try to produce now and it seems like nothing's any good. One of my favorite story ideas, the one that I was so sure was going to carry through to the end, is stagnating on its 50th page, (Aha! Found the problem, I think) and perhaps 10 or 15 of those 50 pages are no good in any case. (It sucks, I know—all that work, and then you think “Why did I ever think this was any good? Why am I wasting my time?”) I set it aside and started working on a short story that started out great and then got stuck in an idiotic place. (Maybe you rushed into it, and it can still be fixed with a little planning and plotting? Maybe a change of focus? Maybe you can try posting it for review? We can’t help much until we have a look) I posted a paragraph in another forum, and they told me the prose was purple. (By they, how many people, out of interest?)

    I was distressed because they were completely right: it was hopelessly purple, and I didn't even notice! (Well, if that’s all, maybe you just need to fix it e.g. by using less adjectives and simpler sentence structure—at least you have a goal to work to in trying to improve this aspect of your writing).

    Being a bad writer shouldn't bug me, I know. (No one has actually said you are a bad writer—and anyway, if they bothered to read your work at all, it’s likely something in it interested them) I'm young, and still learning the craft. (As we all are, even the not-so-young!) But it really does. I want to be good at everything I try. (Okaaaaay—one step at a time.) I thought I really had some ability in writing, and now I just feel like I suck. (You are going through a rough patch. Be easy on yourself. Get plenty of exercise and sleep, and then return to the fray).
     
  16. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel the same way too, from time to time, I think it coincides with the growth as a writer. I usually give it a couple of days, doing nothing but reading and then I feel ready to take the bull by the horns again.
     
  17. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel like a crappy writer all the time. I still write and still work to improve my writing. That's what you gotta do that.
     
  18. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    I'm a much better writer than I was five years ago, and I'm a way better writer than I was ten years ago.

    But I wasn't a bad writer ten years ago. I just didn't have much talent, practice, experience -- things that all come with time & work.

    It's likely you're not a bad writer, either, you're just recognizing your faults and letting them bring you down. But recognizing them is the first step towards becoming a better writer. For now, don't worry so much about the quality of what you produce -- write because you love it, because you have a story to tell, because the more you do it, the better you'll get.

    Digging through an old box I recently came across a story I wrote when I was about six. It was about a cat in a haunted house. It was a horrible story. There were grammatical errors, the cat was the only character (and a flat character -- not even a round character), and the plot went nowhere. There was a lot of telling and no showing.

    The story actually tells a story about how I started out, my passion for writing, how far I've come. It doesn't matter if you wrote something that's no good -- it's only one reflection of your abilities, and later, when you've improved, you can look back on it and see it not just as crappy writing but as concrete proof of your potential.
     
  19. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    My feeling on this is that thinking you're crap is fine as long as you don't give up. In my experience, not just with writing but in my career and other interests, the most brilliant people are always the most humble and self-deprecating - they never rest on their laurels, never assume they know it all, and they strive to be better. Of course there are great people who are confident, even cocky and smug, but from what I've encountered the truly special ones are painfully aware of their limitations and work tirelessly to eradicate them.


    So basically, second that Darwin quote above :)
     
  20. Dubya
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    Dubya Member

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    This may sound a little bizarre, but have you considered writing about your current situation, for instance, a short story or a letter to yourself. Expressing your emotions, looking at the problem from different points of view, making fun of yourself, considering suggestions posted on this forum, etc, etc. If nothing else, it would be a record of this point in your life, and might refresh the urge to express yourself naturally. Also, and I know this is a contradiction, you should get out and get a life rather than do too much navel-gazing! How often does a chance remark overheard, or a situation witnessed lead to a train of thought which results in page after page of writing? Four walls are rarely inspiring!
     
  21. Joey Batz
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    Joey Batz Member

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    I've been in that place before. I'll sit there, thinking how terrible I am and how I'll be lucky to even finish the work I'm writing, so on and so forth. I've even considered scrapping my work on account of how bad I sometimes think it is. It's a very dark place. You can't let that feeling become any more than a feeling. Remember, they say everyone is their own worst critic. If you think your writing is so bad, submit samples of it on the forum for review. A positive review is definitely a self-esteem builder! Even a negative review is helpful, since rather than just feeling that you are a shitty writer, you will have your strengths and weaknesses pointed out for you to identify and work on.
     
  22. AMA
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    AMA New Member

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    Sometimes I feel like writing is a constant state of rehab.

    If that's the case, you are one step ahead in the CWA (Crappy Writer's Anonymous). You've stood on your chair in front of all of us and said, "Hello. My name is Jo, and I am a crappy writer." As people above have said in multiple ways, it starts with acceptance. I know I have. I'll stand right next to you and scream it to the hilltops: "I AM A CRAPPY WRITER!"

    Now, as Cogito said, it's time to say "I have much room for improvement" and watch the innumerable opportunities open up before you... Welcome to Crappy Writer's Anonymous! :p
     
  23. MVP
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    MVP Member

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    Dam that Jack Daniels, he's a crappy writer.
     
  24. TDFuhringer
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    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hey jo spumoni.

    The fact that you think you are a shitty writer is wonderful! Why? Because most people never work hard enough or learn enough to realize their writing is BAD. However, don't get caught in the trap. Keep writing, keep learning, you will improve.

    I recently dug out some of my old writing. I found work going back as far as 1993. It sucks donkey balls. It's so far beyond horrifyingly abysmal it bends the space time continuum until it touches itself and becomes hilarious. Now imagine, please. What if I had stopped writing back in '93 just because I was a shitty writer? Guess what? I got better. After about 100,000 words my work started becoming readable. After 250,000, it got interesting. I'm still learning and reading and writing and someday I'll look back on the work I'm doing now, which I know is far superior to what I did back then, and I'm going to say "Wow, I was a really shitty writer back then." :)
     
  25. antongully
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    antongully New Member

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    If you think you're a bad writer you're in a far better place than someone who thinks they're a good writer. Anyone who's happy with what they've written and enjoyed writing it isn't doing it right.
     

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