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  1. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Main Problem

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by waitingforzion, Aug 24, 2016.

    My main problem is not that I don't write clearly. It is not that I struggle to come up with rhythms of the kind that I desire. It is not that I doubt I can revise my words and put those rhythms in them.

    All these things proceed out of four other issues: my failure to practice, my failure to write a complete and louzy draft, my failure to think of a controlling idea, and my unwilling and forgetful attitude toward following advice for resolving them, and toward revising my work until it is perfect.

    It is not that I doubt I can develop a great style, but that because of laziness and empty mindedness I do not have content to practice with, nor the strength to write them in full and revise.

    And I have not felt like writing fiction in a long time, giving myself no permission to make things up.

    Not many years ago, when I diligently wrote and revised five paragraphs, each one at a time, I wrote something clear and poetic. Now the circumstances of my life keep me from trying. Whatever seems too hard, I give up on too quickly.

    There are several approaches I can take to developing style, but without content, the act is pointless, and with certain approaches, fruitless.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    What is it that you want to do with your writing? Tell a story that keeps people up all night? Make your readers marvel at your word choices? Make people think about the world? Make people think about philosophy?

    Taking the other tack. What do you read? What do you like to read?

    Your problem sounds to me as if you're not quite focused on what you want to accomplish. I'd say get that straight in your head, and maybe the other problems would vanish.
     
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  3. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think writimg has to be about accomplishing anything. It's about being honest.
     
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  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Then honesty is what you want to accomplish.

    My point in the thread was to get HIM to pinpoint (if he hasn't already done so) what he wants to accomplish with his writing. If he just wants to 'write' ...well, maybe that's the problem he's having. Just wanting to 'write,' without having any reason why, is bound to run out of steam, sooner or later.

    He posted this thread because he says he has a problem. I'm just trying to help him get to the bottom of what his problem (for him) is.
     
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  5. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't say that. Honesty is a means, not an end. You're not trying to accomplish anything. You're just expressing. Personally, I think this is the best reason to write.
     
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  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    So what would be your suggestion to help solve his problem? I do think if you're going to write 'honestly' you've got to have something to say. At least I can't think of any kind of honest writing that doesn't. Unless he just likes to play with words.

    His quote here:
    It's hard to continue with this thread until we hear back from him. But 'expressing' by itself is just gibberish. Unless you have something you want to express, or by 'expressing' (like freewriting) you come to discover what that something is. I think he should probably pinpoint what his 'something' is. He seems frustrated that his writing lacks content, the spark that might make him stay with it. It's that spark I'm trying to ignite here. But I'll wait till he comes back to the thread.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  7. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I remember a few of your threads and I think you've hit on your problem. You're very focused on style and rhythm and language, I think at the expense of actually writing a good story. The two aren't mutually exclusive, but the balance has to be right. There's no point saying nothing beautifully, because it's still nothing.
     
  8. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Well I have different reasons for wanting to write.

    Sometimes I want to write an epistle in the style of the Apostle Paul in the King James Bible.
    Sometimes I want to write a speech like a politician.
    Sometimes I want to write a treatise on some subject.
    And sometimes I want to write fiction.

    I feel like I can't focus on one because I might need to do one of the others.

    But in most cases, I want to play with words, but not for its own sake. I want to say something important or tell an entertaining story.

    If I write a story, I can't use the style of Paul. But I still want to create some kind of rhythm.

    One exercise that helps people learn new ways of expressing themselves is sentence imitation. I can do that, but once I have done that for so long, when it is time to make serious sense, what will I say?

    That is the problem.

    If I focus on fiction, I might be able to come up with things. But I don't know how to structure a story, and I have trouble finding free books to read that interest me or that are good. I think it is partly to do with my medication causing me some form of anhedonia.

    Also, when I write a series of simple sentences, I worry they won't be joinable into a more complex one. That is one of the reasons I won't do free writing. Another reason is that I will need to stop to think.

    Sometimes I just want to read fiction, but I can't find anything to read, nothing good and free, nothing interesting either. I found one book but it was written in the present tense. I can't stand that. I read some Harry Potter when I was younger, but I don't have the books anymore.

    I want to write various kinds of things for different reasons. I can't get focused on one goal because I feel like I would be abandoning the others.

    I want to become a professional writer of some sort. But the problem is I want to do everything at once. I have a lot of problems of this nature.

    I can read books on story structure. In fact I have one. But right now I feel so tired. I can't sleep at the proper time and I am constantly uncomfortable about certain things. Worrying prevents me from accomplishing things. I was uncomfortable about something before but I could not figure out what it was.

    I don't want to write at night, and but I am stuck awake all night, and I sleep during the day.

    I was a decent computer programmer before. Now I forgot how to learn things in porgramming.

    I would like to be a speech writer, but I have nothing to give a speech about for practice.

    I guess the problem is that I refuse to make things up. I want to address someone in real life. But for a story it would be different.

    I want to focus on writing fiction now, not imitating Paul, but nonetheless writing in a poetically rhythmic style. I know of two ways to develop such a style. One involves imitating sentence structures only as an exercise. The other involves playing with words on my own. Either way, without content, the act is pointless.

    And I need to get myself to write a whole draft without editing.

    I know a lot of the things I need to do. I have so many books. I just haven't really been practicing. I don't practice, and then I forget.

    But I want to write a book and get published. I've always wanted to. I thought it would be easier for me because I am me, but it turns out I am not intelligent, even though I am supposed to have a 120 IQ. I thought I was inteligent, but I am not as inteligent as everyone else.
     
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  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    It sounds like you're one of many who wants to be a writer, but doesn't really want to write.

    I'm assuming you're getting adequate and responsive care for whatever your medical condition is, have given your health care providers feedback about the effects of your medication, have had a discussion with them about the symptoms of depression, etc. If you haven't done all that, I think it should be your priority.

    Other than that - you sound young and angsty. Restless, but without the drive to do anything about your dissatisfaction. You're far from unique, but knowing that won't make it any easier for you to break out of the pattern. We can come up with lots of solutions to your smaller problems (you can get good free books at the library, and if you're in a rural area you may want to look at Overdrive or other library services for free access to e-books; there's no reason not to write at night if that's when you're awake, etc.) but I really don't think there's any point.

    Until you have not just the ambition but also the self-discipline to do something about your ambition, you're going to have a difficult time achieving anything. That's the reality in any field, but especially in writing, where the payoffs are so long in coming. Being a professional writer without a lot of drive? I just don't think that's going to happen. So... either find another ambition or find some self-discipline and get things done. There's really no easy way around it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
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  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It sounds like you're struggling with medical issues, which complicates the whole thing. However, I do believe if you want something bad enough, and don't expect it to happen on its own, you can certainly work to get it.

    I'm not sure what your issues are, and if this suggestion doesn't apply, just ignore it. But you seem to want to produce something. Something in real life. Or a piece of fiction. Or poetic, rhythmic style. Or all of them. Etc. But what you need to address is what you want to say. Until you do this, you're just going to swither around, experimenting with this and that, dabbling and fooling around and probably producing nothing. You said it yourself, in your original post: without content, the act is pointless. So work on your content.

    Decide what you want to say. Don't allow yourself the excuse that there are so many things you want to say that you can't pick one. You must pick one. Refusing to choose is also a choice—one that will lead you nowhere. Better to choose something important to you, stick to that choice even if things get tough or boring and get something finished. Then move on to something else. Right now you're allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by all the possibilities and you can't get off the ground.

    Your IQ of 120 is high enough to be a writer, that's for sure. Intelligence isn't the issue. Focus is. If you struggle to focus because of your medical condition, that's not easy, and I have no miracle advice to offer. But if focus is something you CAN do, but just don't want to, then I'd say that's your problem.
     
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  11. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Then it seems your main problem (to use this thread's title) is you need to change your life.

    And I'm not being facetious here. It may not be easy; it may not even be desirable for whatever reason(s) you have. But that's what's gotta change.

    You may have to, in the course of things, get away from people of negative influence, too.

    But only you will know how to go about this. And I wish you luck. It's gonna be tough for a while, but it is very possible to come out the other end. I wish you Godspeed.
     
  12. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Writers choose to write. If you wanted to be a writer, you would be both reading and writing. I've never been at a loss for how to do either of these things, and still I put in a lot of practice and a lot of hours to reach my goals. You can go ahead and call yourself lazy, but from reading both of your posts in this thread, I'm not so sure you really want to be a writer. That's not to sound mean or anything, but I just don't understand wanting something and doing practically nothing to get it but then still saying I really want it. Do you?
     
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  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    But none of these has anything to do with content or with writing honestly. For what it's worth I think both @jannert and @123456789 are right. There's no reason both their points can't be true at the same time. The things you have mentioned are not reasons. They are structures. You have not mentioned a reason why to write yet. Think on it some more.

    You are chasing the rabbit down the hole. I've watched you employ this exercise since 2009. It's getting you nowhere and, in fact, seems to be hampering and hindering you to an extreme degree. This may be a good exercise for some people, but from what I have seen here in your forum participation, it's not a good exercise for you. It's not.


    This is a total non-sequitur. From your other recent post it's clear you have gotten it into your head that smart people should be able to churn out a bestseller while doing the laundry, and what's more, that if they don't churn out that bestseller then they must be dumb. Where did you get this idea? Throw it away. It makes no sense.
     
  14. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    So don't then - write non fiction , journalism , songs, poems whatever

    Or not, if you don't want to write, then you know, don't - no one has a gun to your head ... but in that case you need a different hobby

    if you want to be a writer - writing is kind of obligatory
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
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  15. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Actually,. I haven't employed this exercise even one single time. I've tried to write in a certain style, not knowing what style it was, having no model in front of me. But I have never actually tried sentence imitation exercises. It has been demonstrated that everyone who tries it benefits from it. It is used in the classroom.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
  16. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    You've made mention of it many times. You've provided sentence examples where you remark on the structural similarity to phrase structures drawn from the bible. You've talked about this in the past, many, many times and I've engaged you in conversations on the very topic. Why would I be so quick to remark on it otherwise?
     
  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    @waitingforzion, you keep making statements that seem to add up to the fact that you're afraid to do X, because it might go wrong or you might wish that you had done Y.

    Can you tell us exactly what the fear is? You may think that that's a full description, but to me it's not. If I did X and then wished I'd done Y...well, at least I did something. No big deal. Now I'll try Y. So I don't really understand the fear.

    - Is it fear of having wasted time? But aren't you wasting far, far more time not making up your mind? If you spend a year wondering if you should do X or Y or Z or A or B or C, or you spend that year instead giving a month to X and another month to Y and another month to Z....in the second case aren't you, at worst, wasting the same amount of time that you would have wasted in the first place?

    - Is it fear that if you make the wrong choice, if you commit an error....something terrible will happen? Is it sheer fear of error? My mother used to un-do tasks that were done imperfectly, because she'd rather do nothing at all than do something imperfectly. Is it something like that?

    - Is it fear that you'll discover that maybe you don't have a talent that you hope that you have? Well, maybe you will discover that. But there's no way to ever find out what talents you DO have, until you try some things.

    - ....? Is it a different fear? Are you able to describe it?
     
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  18. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm still waiting for the links to the scientists who "are not in agreement with those writers" from your Wired to be Writers thread, so possibly this is a waste of time, but... can you link to where "it has been demonstrated that everyone who tries it benefits from it"?
     
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  19. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    There was no structural similarity. There was only attempted rhythmic similarity, but I did not have a model to imitate in front of me, only an idea of which work I wanted to imitate. I used some words in a similar way, and in rare cases used short grammatical patterns from memory, but overall there was no similarity.

    I don't have links. I just remember reading in books that the people who get good at things are the ones who practice.

    Sentence imitation is simply using the form of a sentence as a template. I don't have links to any studies, but teachers have used it in the classroom with great success. It adds to the students repetoire of grammatical and rhetorical forms. I have not really tried it.
     
  20. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    I'm worried that if I have too much fun something bad will happen.

    And whenever I start to write something, I think it is stupid and give up on it.
     
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  21. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    What I think is the biggest problem is that there's a writing exercise you've wanted to do since 2009 and haven't done it yet.
     
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  22. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    I generally have that thought somewhere after the eighth pint , and/or whilst chatting up a beautiful woman (in the past i mean darling. *ducks*..) its never occurred to me about writing

    I mean whats the absolute worst that can happen - you spend a few hours writing something that turns out to be a pile of shite , really so what ? , he who never made a mistake never made anything worthwhile either
     
  23. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I can't do anything for your first fear. That's beyond me.

    However, your second fear is easily addressed. Don't give up on it. Keep going. Decide what you want to say and work on saying it. Forget 'how' your words sound. Just get them to make sense, and have a purpose besides looking and sounding perfect. That will give you a different goal.

    Your goal at the moment seems to be 'I want to write something perfect, and nothing less than perfect will satisfy me.' That's not going to work, because nothing is ever perfect, and you will always be disappointed if perfection is your goal.

    My husband refers to this attitude as 'divine discontent.' People who are divinely discontented are never happy. They just want something OTHER than what they've got, no matter what they've got. We had a neighbour who used to constantly renovate her house, because as soon as she got done with one renovation she 'didn't like it,' and started all over again. She wasted an awful lot of money and forced her kids and husband to live in constant upheaval because of her inability to work with what she had, improve what she had, and be contented with what she had.

    If you are unwilling to change your way of thinking or modify your approach, then you will always be stuck in this rut. A change of attitude is one of those things nobody else can help you with. You have to do it yourself.

    Look outside yourself. Is there something in the world today that bothers you a lot? (Not everything, but something specific.) Write about it. Is there somebody you know who is going through a bad time just now? Write about them. (Changing names and identifiable characteristics of course.) What would you do to help them, if you could? What do you think they might change, to make things better? Write about this. Is there a particular wish you have for yourself? Something that may never happen, but something you really want? Write about it. Pretend that it has happened. Does it make you happy? Or is there something about it that isn't quite what you expected?

    Pretend that you ARE a famous writer, whose prose is nearly perfect, who is totally happy with what you've written. You are so famous that all sorts of people are knocking on your door, asking you to come to events, to accept prizes, etc. What happens then? Wow. Before you know it, you're writing a story.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
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  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't remember--do you have a counselor or therapist?
     
  25. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    Especially as the first draft is nearly always crap - even for multi best selling authors - I saw an interview with Wilbur Smith once where he was saying that he always hates his first drafts but you've got to dig up the rough diamonds before you can cut and polish them, and think how many books he's sold.

    expecting to write beautifully polished gem straight off is hopelessly unrealistic and just set you up for failure before you begin
     

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