1. PensiveQuill
    Offline

    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2014
    Messages:
    358
    Likes Received:
    210
    Location:
    Australia

    Lots of ideas, no actual talent.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by PensiveQuill, Sep 7, 2014.

    I'm fast coming to the conclusion that as much as I have lots of ideas for characters and plots and can even put together a detailed story plan. I lack the talent to actually do the writing of it. Since being on this forum either my writing has gotten worse or I've just lost all delusions about the quality of it. I've read every book I can find on the subject, logically I know what I need to do. Linguistically it just doesn't work. My sentences are awful, stilted and just plain ugly. It reads worse than the worst fan fiction.

    I spend days writing a piece, rewriting it. Feeling happy with what I've come up with and 24hrs later I read it and think....what is this shit?

    If passion was enough I'd be fine. But passion means absolutely nothing when you have no voice and even less talent. And the irony of it is, I have the perfect job for this. I work 25hrs a week and make $80k a year. Leaving me plenty of time to write.

    And I wonder why I have the desire for it but lack the facility? It feels like an enormous joke. And if writing isn't what I am supposed to do in life then what is? I am not good at anything particularly. So fucking frustrating....
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2014
    Alexa C. Morgan likes this.
  2. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,807
    Likes Received:
    7,329
    Location:
    Scotland
    Well, from what you post on this forum I'd say you're a good writer. You are able to express yourself well, you certainly string your sentences together with aplomb. You've got the tools AND the ideas.

    I'd say just write. Don't struggle too hard to achieve perfection as you go. Just get everything down, but use your own voice.

    It helped me immensely to pretend, when I was writing, that I was telling my story to my sister. She's one of my best friends, and I have no trouble talking to her. So (without telling her I was doing this) I used her as my imaginary audience. It was amazing how much difference this personalisation made to the way I chose to tell my story.

    I'd try this, if I were you. Pick the person in your life whom you MOST want to enjoy your story, then write it for them. Always keep them in mind as you write. I think you'll find it just rolls along a lot more fluidly, than if you're tailoring your prose to some abstract ideal or (worse yet) to the avoidance of error. Just pretend your best person is there in front of you, and you are telling them this story. Pretend they are raptly engrossed in your tale and are loving every minute of it. Don't allow them to criticise. Just let them be your Number One Fan.

    Try it! It works.

    By the way, when I finished Draft One, Draft Two and Draft Three, my sister read all three versions several times, and told me it was her 'favourite book.' She's now pestering me for the final Version Four. When I eventually confessed to her what I'd done, she was most amused.
     
    Cadavar, Foxe and aikoaiko like this.
  3. matwoolf
    Offline

    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Messages:
    2,305
    Likes Received:
    2,237
    Location:
    Brighton Heights
    One can see when there is a sparkle at the tip

    - even whilst the prose athlete still warms up in the marshalled zone, and sups from her bottle of lucozade.

    You got it, Oz...

    but sometimes 3000 words arrives in a click of the fingers, other times it takes two years to polish. Then you can shift from despair at writing it to despair at nobody reading it :/
     
  4. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    If you want you can send me some of your fiction and I can take a look at it. I mentor aspiring writers when I can, and I am an English teacher.
     
    obsidian_cicatrix, Mckk and jannert like this.
  5. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,807
    Likes Received:
    7,329
    Location:
    Scotland
    woops ...STAMPEDE....
     
  6. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,273
    Likes Received:
    1,666
    I was working as a doctor, happy with my job, always wanting to write stories but never had the time. When I went off full time work for health reasons, I started to write autobiographical stories and while they were ok and well received, they couldn't really stand up to my own standards. Quite a few years passed since then. I wrote another half a million words of fiction, it took three years for me to hone some basic skills from how-to books and this year, for the first time, I feel like my writing can stand out in a crowd, in a good way. I no longer feel limited by my skills and most of the time I find a way of expressing myself exactly as I planned, in fiction as well as non-fiction. It will happen for you too, if you have patience. Don't give up.
     
    obsidian_cicatrix and jannert like this.
  7. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,661
    Likes Received:
    5,152
    Do you feel as if you're writing in 'your' style, or are you borrowing someone else's? Are you trying to hard? Are your standards too high?

    I mean, I DO believe that there are aspects of writing that are innate and can't really be learned, but I think these tend to come more at the 'genius' level. I think anyone who can write as clearly as you do in your post can learn to produce at least adequate fictional prose.

    Do you have a crit group? What do they say? Have you submitted anything anywhere? What has the response been?

    What genre are you writing in? There are different styles for different genres, and maybe you haven't found the one that fits your natural inclinations yet.

    Lots of possibilities. No need to give up, unless you've stopped enjoying yourself.
     
    jannert and Lemex like this.
  8. AlannaHart
    Offline

    AlannaHart Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    Messages:
    367
    Likes Received:
    201
    Location:
    Australia
    Your writing in this post indicates that your sentence structure is perfectly readable. It was a pleasure to read your self-deprecation.

    That 'what is this shit?' reaction to your work is natural. Happens to me every time. Happens to most writers. Stop reading the 'how to' books and start reading books you like.
     
    Cadavar and Alexa C. Morgan like this.
  9. Lae
    Offline

    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2013
    Messages:
    508
    Likes Received:
    224
    Location:
    UK
    sounds like your on a downer to me. Some folk go their entire lives doubting what they can do. That "how did i pull the wool over all these people's eyes?!" notion. Sadly they're usually a lot better than they think they are.

    9/10 times i say your opinion is the only one that matters, self esteem comes from within blahblah, i see far to many people letting others opinions dictate their self esteem. In this case however, let them. We think you're good...so you're good.
     
    jazzabel likes this.
  10. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,218
    Likes Received:
    4,226
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Want to know the power of being a writer? There's not a single human on Earth that will stop you from writing. Not even, yes, yourself. Imagine that nasty bit of yourself as an entirely different person, who constantly insults you and tells you that you're a complete joke. If someone else told you that, you'd tell them to go kiss a box jellyfish.

    Seems to me that's exactly what's happening. You are that person telling yourself that you suck. So go tell that hateful part of yourself where exactly they can plant their lips on that box jellyfish and go write.
     
  11. JamesBrown
    Offline

    JamesBrown Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2014
    Messages:
    121
    Likes Received:
    79
    Maybe you just haven't found the theme that you feel strongly enough about.

    Making up a random story with x amount of characters and a plot that holds people's interest without particularly saying anything about the human condition, a la Stephen King or John Grisham, is not a talent everyone has, and certainly not me. What I have is a strong interest in a particular theme, namely identity - particularly young males trying to forge an identity for themselves and the pitfalls they face - and that theme guides everything in my novel, the plot, character development etc.

    Try and pick a theme you feel strongly about, with characters you know well and devise a plot that places those characters in difficult situations which they need to resolve.

    Try and think about what makes you as a person different and what unique perspective you have on the world that will be of interest to other people.
     
    Link the Writer likes this.
  12. Foxe
    Offline

    Foxe Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2011
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    44
    Location:
    Canada
    Well said! Advice I'll take myself.

    Maybe self-doubt is the best for writing, though. If it doesn't break you down, it'll push you to perfection.... just don't let it break you down.
     
  13. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,218
    Likes Received:
    4,226
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Bingo! Find out what sort of message you want to tell the world, and have your characters act out on that message. Maybe there's something in a movie/book you've watched and the message they told you found to be toxic, so your book is like an answer to their message.

    For example The Incredibles gave off this vibe that anyone who was special, who was a cut above the rest of the people, should be utterly ashamed of the gifts they had and they needed to hide it so the rest of us didn't feel bad. Needless to say, not many people liked that message, which is probably what inspired Lego: The Movie. That movie celebrated uniqueness, creativity and being awesome at something. That was its message. I don't know if that was actually the case, but compared to The Incredibles, it does seem to imply that, yes, this movie was the answer to The Incredibles.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2014
  14. 123456789
    Offline

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,347
    Likes Received:
    3,092
    I'm sorry you feel you can't write...more importantly, what is your job ???!!!!!!
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2014
    peachalulu and Mckk like this.
  15. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Actually, I see the fact that you can come back, reread your own work, and think it's shit as a very good sign. It means you know how good writing should look, you know what you want to say, and you're not too arrogant or wrapped up in yourself to know you still need to learn. The fact that you can tell good writing from bad writing is actually a sign that you have good intuition and very likely *can* write.

    Anyway, it's so normal for writers to think their own work is utter shite that I wouldn't even put too much thought to it. Just keep writing. Practice makes perfect. You only fail when you stop. Yes, one has to be realistic - maybe you're not good enough to be published, who knows? But why should that stop you writing? You enjoy it, don't you? Then keep writing. If you want to be a writer and want it badly enough, you'll keep writing.

    And then perhaps the day will creep upon you when you realise your writing *is* publishable and you wouldn't even know how or when it happened :) As long as you're learning, it good enough, at the end of the day, because as long as you're learning, it means you're getting there. The goal is in sight. You should start worrying only when you feel there's nothing more to learn.
     
    PensiveQuill and aikoaiko like this.
  16. PensiveQuill
    Offline

    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2014
    Messages:
    358
    Likes Received:
    210
    Location:
    Australia
    Yes that's it. The quest for perfection and nothing ever measures up. I can't stand to just let stuff pour out on the page without editing at the same time. And then deleting and then rewriting it all over again.

    I like your idea but I will have to get a 'person', I have no best. I've just divorced my family and run away to a city I am unfamiliar with. Short version of that - my family are sociopaths, no really. It was all I could to get away. Mostly I spend all my time alone, by choice. I just can't be bothered finding friends or companions. But maybe I should try. At the moment I live to work and then write on my days off.
     
  17. PensiveQuill
    Offline

    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2014
    Messages:
    358
    Likes Received:
    210
    Location:
    Australia
    I don't have a grand vision for humanity or anything to say about the human condition. To be honest I'm not a huge fan of people in general. My perspectives on the world are entirely uninteresting to other people, trust me I know. In all honesty I want to escape life and have even considered just leaving it several times.

    Whats frustrating is that my work persona is great. People love her, she is funny, engaging and I find it so easy to just put that front on and got about what needs to be done. But I can't write her because she is a facade and I can't do funny in writing. It's all about timing, facial expressions, witty banter. None of that exists outside of my work.

    I like fantasy because it's not about real life which is something I've had enough of. I don't want anymore of that. I spend all my time trying to escape that hideous condition called real life. For the most part, I do a good job of it. I know that what you say is the 'key' to a good life, to be of service to others. Frankly its all I can do to get away from others and just try and comfort myself. I'm in no state to go caretaking the world.
     
    jannert likes this.
  18. PensiveQuill
    Offline

    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2014
    Messages:
    358
    Likes Received:
    210
    Location:
    Australia
    It's a full moon and I'm as angsty as all get out. I also haven't eaten or slept for days now. Maybe I should just go to bed and forget this for a time. Thanks for your kind support and nice words. I appreciate it.
     
  19. 123456789
    Offline

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,347
    Likes Received:
    3,092
    @PensiveQuill

    please tell me your profession. 80k and 25hrs peer week is my dream.

    Just realized you live in Australia. Nevermind :(
     
  20. PensiveQuill
    Offline

    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2014
    Messages:
    358
    Likes Received:
    210
    Location:
    Australia
    It is a dream job actually. But I'd rather not say, we can get fired if we are identified online and not basically spruiking the company. One of my coworkers was stood down for exactly that. I like the freedom to say whatever I like outside of work.
     
  21. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,807
    Likes Received:
    7,329
    Location:
    Scotland
    That's quite sad, actually. It's horrible to have no positive family connections or friends. I do hope this is a temporary situation. If you have a lot of time to spend alone this can be good for writing (I wish I had more of it, to tell the truth) but if you are isolated or marginalised, that's going to impact on the way you feel and what you write about. I hope you find some good friends in the near future. People who support you and encourage your writing.
     
  22. Edward M. Grant
    Offline

    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Messages:
    382
    Likes Received:
    66
    Location:
    Canada
    Here you are: http://www.sfwriter.com/ow05.htm

    I don't agree with everything Heinlein said, but the basics of write, finish what you write, don't endlessly tinker with it, and send it out (or self-publish) while you work on something else are pretty much guaranteed to make you a better writer in the long term.

    If all else fails, write and self-publish some smut under a pseudonym. It sells pretty well, it's good writing practice, and it's fun.

    Edit: oh, yeah, and based on your posts here, there's no way you could write something that reads as bad as the worst fan fiction.

    Edit2: Talent is over-rated. I had a very talented writer girlfriend who could do magic with words, and all her teachers said she was going to become a famous writer and do great things. Twenty years later, she finally sold a book, with about five hundred words in it. She had talent, but wouldn't actually do the work required to turn that into a book people wanted to read.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2014
    jannert likes this.
  23. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    I'm going to advise along the same line as jannert. Just tell your story as if you were telling a friend (and yeah, I've made up friends just for this purpose ;)). Also realize that you will write thousands and thousands of words before you feel comfortable with your own writing. And finally, get some novels similar to yours and read them, taking note of how those authors did things. Get different authors, though, so you don't get caught up in trying to copy one author.

    oh, yeah, one absolutely last thing - understand that becoming a good writer takes a lot of time and practice. :)
     
    jannert likes this.
  24. 123456789
    Offline

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,347
    Likes Received:
    3,092
    This phrase makes no sense
     
    Fullmetal Xeno likes this.
  25. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,978
    Likes Received:
    5,500
    As others have said, your writing on this forum is just fine. I strongly suspect that when you're writing "on purpose" rather than casually and comfortably in a forum context, you're working too hard to achieve specific stylistic goals, goals that may not work with your natural writing voice.

    Are you able to make any guess as to how many words, or hours, of fiction writing (assuming that fiction writing is your goal) that you've put in? Me, I'd guess that I've written a couple of million words of casual nonfiction blathering, and perhaps a couple of hundred thousand words of fiction writing. I don't expect to even know if my fiction voice can be any good until I've written, and thrown away, a million or so words of fiction.

    So I would give the easy-to-say, hard-to-follow advice of "just write". The analogy I've used before is that if you were trying to learn to play the piano, you would practice for dozens, hundreds, probably thousands, of hours, and you wouldn't stop practicing because what you were playing wasn't worth recording and releasing as a CD. You would realize that you were starting out as a new pianist and that you were going to produce a whole lot of very bad music before you produced good music. In the same way, you're going to produce a whole lot of very bad writing before you produce good writing.
     
    jannert likes this.

Share This Page