1. Dickie Bird
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    Dickie Bird Member

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    Massive crisis of faith

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Dickie Bird, Jan 11, 2010.

    Hi, I'm not really new here, but haven't been about in a while. I wasn't sure which section to stick this in, but to be honest I was just wondering if anyone knows how it feels when you're ready to give up, you know you shouldn't but you feel like it's not worth the bother. I'm really going through a massive crisis of faith in my writing abilities at the minute. I keep telling myself I can do it and plough on with my novel, but I am terrified one day I will actually give up.
     
  2. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Which "terrifies" you more...giving up, or ploughing on?
     
  3. Dickie Bird
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    Dickie Bird Member

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    Giving up.... I am totally terrified of giving up, becuase if I do that means in my mind I've failed, because if i give up now I will always give up when things become rocky...but sometimes I do wonder if I should bother.
     
  4. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    As long as you're terrified of giving up, things should be fine. It's only once you think it's alright to give up you're in trouble! ;)
     
  5. Delphinus
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    Delphinus Senior Member

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    Giving up on a novel is not the same as giving up on writing. You need to question why you feel like giving up on this project before deciding whether or not you do. If it's just because of a loss of faith in your writing ability, then it will pass. Write short stories and/or revise earlier sections of the novel to improve, or if you hit the dreaded writer's block, read good writing.

    [Please note: I'm a hypocrite; I write books in the same way Casanova loved women. My habits are bad habits.]
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you're wasting precious creative energy by worrying about what hasn't happened yet.. and doing so, you're likely to MAKE it happen!

    i have to disagree with the above poster... tell yourself it'll be ok to give up, if you really need to and then, since you can stop worrying about the possibility, it's not likely to come about...

    agonizing over things that only 'may' happen almost always becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy...
     
  7. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know that feeling. I look over some of my work and while examining it I have this moment where I truly believe that I am terrible. I look over a few comments people make and I have to wonder, what do they see in it? I try and remind myself that even if I never get published, its the writing that I care about. The ability to tell a story and if only a handful of people ever read it and they enjoyed it, thats good enough. But in the darker moments I consider giving up.

    But luckily these periods are brief.
     
  8. Dickie Bird
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    Dickie Bird Member

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    Thanks guys.... I guess it's my inferiority complex coming out...I will continue I think..!
     
  9. wave1345
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    wave1345 Member

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    I'd wager every successful, published writer goes through what you are. I remember
    reading about how Stephen King felt a similar way when he was teaching English for a
    job and simply felt to fried to write when he got home. He said that was the time he
    most despaired about ever being a successful writer.

    I'll give you the advice my graphic design teacher gave us on a particularly frustrating
    project: work, work, work some more. When you feel like you've really hit that wall,
    completely been stopped dead - that's when you're about to break through into
    something new and successful.
     
  10. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    While some would say that fear keeps you on edge, alert and better able to react to a threat as it materialises. My personal experience is that it's once I become careless and secure that bad stuff happens. It also tells me that if it's acceptable to quit, then I'll be more likely to do so.
     
  11. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    The underlying root problem, Dickie, is not the terror of giving up, but the fear of failure.

    You could give up writing on your current project and move on to another, while in a sense it is an act of giving up, it's not giving up on the idea of being a writer. Many of us, I know this is true for me, start projects and part of the way through, realize something just isn't working, it's not right, and we put the project aside to work on something else. That isn't a sign that you are a failure as a writer, because you haven't finished a novel, it just means you haven't found the novel you want to finish.

    Try writing some short stories, under 5000 words. I do this when I'm starting to feel like I'll never finish anything and am a complete failure. The act of finishing something can renew our faith in our abilities to write something from start to end. A novel is a long endevor that can take years to finish, so in the present it seems almost impossible to ever get to the end. This lends to feeling insecure about your writing and a question in you mind as to if you'll ever finish anything and if you should be writing at all.

    Don't erase your novel, just set it aside for a few days or a week and write something short from start to finish. Post it up in the critique area if you are feeling froggy. Then go back to the novel feeling a little better about your writing and reevaluate where you are in the story and if it's going to work.

    Don't let the fear of being a failure cripple your creativity. Discovering writing might not be for you, isn't a sign that you are a failure as a person, but that you have other talents yet to be explored fully, and that writing might just not be one of them.

    Plus giving up on one thing when it gets tough, doesn't mean you'll always give up on everything. Each project, each situation in life will be different and each one will present an opportunity for you to just give up. Giving up, however, will be your conscious choice in that moment, and not before. Giving up once, doesn't mean you always will, you would have to choose to always give up in the face of every situation. That choice is your's and your's alone.
     
  12. In Antarctica
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    In Antarctica Banned

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    There is also the very real possibility that you are a bad writer.

    I know, I know, that's heresy around here and in today's culture of "if you believe in yourself you can do anything," but I think deep down we all know that's not necessarily true. People fail at things all the time and it's naive to think that you can't be one of those people. You need to bear in mind that there is a very high probability that you are just bad at writing.

    That said, ask yourself why you want to write your novel. Do you want to get published and make money from it? Bad writing and good writing get published alike, so I wouldn't worry too much. Do you want to write something really beautiful and huge and true? That might be more difficult.

    Take some time away from it no matter what you decide. Stop reading back over the material you have. Stop researching. Stop thinking about it if you can. Take a week or two and just don't write. Take up tennis. Whatever. Get yourself to the point where you feel like you could go on without writing if you had to. Once you're there, pick it up again and read what you have. Does it grab you by the face, pull you in real close and breathe, "****ing finish me, you coward" in a deep, raspy voice? If so, do what it says.

    If not, move on.

    I know I'm saying it in a roundabout way, but this is the truth of good writing. Somehow it will let you kno. If you're really listening. If you're writing because you think you're good at it, it will be silent. If you're writing because of a narcissistic desire to be thought of as a writer, it will never even whisper your name. But if you're writing because you believe you have something really really true to tell people that no one else can ever tell them, then it won't let you get away.

    These are things only you know.
     
  13. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    If Isaac Pearlman did not suffer polio at age 4, would he have become a world renowned violinist? Imagine if Pearlman had developed a love for soccer as a boy and spent countless hour on the pitch, practicing traps and ball juggling instead of music scales. Let's say, through sheer determination, he became a journeyman soccer player on an Israeli team and he worked a night job in a factory so he can practice during daylight hours. The world would have missed out on his greatest natural gift, the violin. Polio resulted in greatness.

    My point is that In Antarctica is right. Not everyone has a "gift" to play violin as a virtuoso. Same with writing. Anyone can "write" basic stories, even develop creativity and build an impressive vocabulary. Those credentials produce good technical writers, but only a few have that special inner eye, that communication dynamic that transcends mediocrity. And it is no "failure" to accept such truth and move on in life, searching for one's special talent.

    I've had to make just such a painful decision. In retrospect, my severe vertigo took me out of competitive bass fishing where I worked hard for nearly 20 years only to be mediocre. Now, I am happy, pursuing new interests...and no regrets.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i have to ditto in antarctica and salty on all of that!
     
  15. ManhattanMss
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    Feeling terrified of something is great fodder for fiction (if fiction is what you're writing). But more to your point, I guess I kind of think there's a difference between giving up on making a living as a writer (which I did a long time back) or giving up writing (which I've never actually done for a minute). In fact, it was long after I gave up trying to make a living as a writer that I even "discovered" that fiction was the very best way I could find to develop my own writing and keep it alive. Meantime, I've used writing in every career move I've made (except one, which I found completely unrewarding--except for the money and perks, which I walked away from after a few months--and, soon after, turned that experience into a piece of fiction).

    So, I don't know what the moral of the story is, except to say that writing can always be improved, can always be seen as a challenge, can be done equally well or better if not viewed as a livelihood, and (fiction writing, in particular) probably benefits from every ounce of terror and uncertainty you can dump into it.

    On the other hand, if writing is not the most crucial part of your existence and if life feels worth living without pursuing it, "abandoning" it is not likely to cause any serious damage. And if you find that you miss it, all it takes is something to write with, and you're good to go.
     
  16. Dickie Bird
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    Dickie Bird Member

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    I have decided not to give up....regardless of how good or bad I am at writing, I want to finish this novel for myself because I want to know how it works out. Haha!!! However thanks for all the advice, certainl gave me things to thing about.

    Dickie..
     
  17. Operaghost
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    Operaghost Contributing Member

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    Good for you ,Dickie, wish others could say the same thing , I have been unable to write for a long time due to depression, and things have seemingly got worse so I’m just about ready to give up entirely, but its good to see that some people manage to pull through, I wish you and everyone here all the best in their writing.
     
  18. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ironically, this motivation (highlighted above) is more likely to produce quality writing than motivation by fear. Good luck.
     

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