1. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Nothing to write about.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by waitingforzion, May 14, 2016.

    I have read some books on style and I think that through practice I can learn to write clearly and gracefully. To practice, however, I need some things to write about, which I also need to complete any decent work. But even though throughout the day I think many different thoughts, when it is time for me to write, I often fail to think of a topic or I often know less about a topic than what is necessary to write a detailed piece. I know that this forum is mostly about how to write fiction, but I am also talking about other kinds of writing, the kinds which require me to draw upon things I know, rather than to make them up.

    Why does it seem like I know so little about the world, even so little that I can barely write about anything in it? How do I solve this problem?
     
  2. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Plain and simple... just write. Grab your writing vessel aim it toward its canvas and bleed. Or there are maybe a thousand website that provide writing prompts (some good some bad) write what you love. write what you hate. Even keeping a journal will spark ideas, interests and a slue of inspiration that you never knew existed right inside of you.
     
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  3. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    And.. you will learn much about the world with writing through research and curiosity and of course, reading.
     
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  4. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    So write a nice lament on how you know so little about the world, and how you know you know so little about the world, and what you wish you knew about the world except that you know so little about the world, and---

    You get the picture. Anything is grist for the mill.
     
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  5. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    The TV series "Seinfeld" was a show about nothing - it was extremely successful. Make your problem a glass is half full situation, writing about nothing in an interesting way is a strong challenge that if you can accomplish it, then you are well on your way in writing IMO. Even the most mundane things have interesting possibilities, a scientist was inspired to invent the bubble chamber to study atomic level actions by watching bubbles rise in a glass of beer.
     
  6. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    My first novel is set aboard an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The closest I've ever been to an oil rig is seeing them on the news when something goes wrong. I know nothing of drilling for oil and have spent a grand total of about 10 hours of my life in the Gulf of Mexico.

    But it didn't matter.

    I used the story to learn how to put together a novel, how to discipline myself to write every day, to create plot, character, story, scene, point of view, and all the multifaceted minutiae of our craft.

    They say you should care deeply about your story, that you need to have a burning desire to tell it. These things certainly help you create a captivating story, but it you are just learning the craft, don't let a lack of conviction on a given subject imprison you behind walls of uncertainty.

    Choose the best topic you can think of. Develop a plot, characters, CONFLICT, setting, and story. Stick with it to the end, whatever that end may be: Top of the bestseller list or the top of your bookshelf.

    You are learning. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, but don't make the mistake of paralyzing yourself by feelings of insufficient knowledge or fear of a weak topic.

    When all else fails, I put my fingers on the keys and start writing words until I get a foothold. It usually works.

    I wish you all the best.
     
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  7. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Seriously. And with the Innerwebs at our fingertips we have no excuse to wallow in ignorance. About thirty years ago I came up with a bright idea for a novel that took place in a newspaper office. But I didn't write it, because I had no firsthand knowledge of what went on in a newspaper office.

    I still have no firsthand knowledge of what takes place in a newspaper office. But I can sure as sunrise find out, and Lord sparing, I'm going to write that novel.

    No excuses!
     
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  8. Miller0700
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    Miller0700 Contributing Member

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    Look for things around you to write about. I tend to look to other modes of fiction for inspiration.
     
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  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Go back over the post you made to start this thread. Look at it closely. Try to figure out ways to make it easier or more pleasant to read. Read it out loud and see if any words jump out at you. Figure out what you did well and what you did right, and figure out how to fix the problems.

    In my opinion and experience, just writing, with or without an exciting topic, won't improve your writing. You'll just be getting better at making the same mistakes. It's a combination of writing and editing that will improve your writing.

    So it doesn't really matter what you write about. Write reviews of your favourite books, write a description of the room you're sitting in, write a response to a political speech. The important part is that you go back and read what you wrote, analyze it, and improve it.
     
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  10. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You're too much in your head. Of course you know enough about the world to write about it. You are a human being with human experiences, passion, interests ...

    I get it. I often say this to myself, and I think it's because my anxiety keeps me the constant perfectionist, so it's not that I don't have plenty to write about, it's more that I have a hard time thinking any of my ideas are good enough to write about. It's severely counterproductive to the practice of writing. Think of something you want said, and say it. Coming up with a topic to write about really is as simple as that.
     
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  11. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    First of, there's always something to write about in your life. And second, it's called research. Besides, you don't even need to know much about a thing. Jaws has numerous glaring inaccuracies or gibberish when it comes to Icthyology but it made so much money. Only nerds were peeved. (Very peeved goddamnit! :supermad:) So if you really want to you can not research much either. Although there are ways to write around a lack of knowledge without having to be inaccurate.
     
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  12. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    Things I knew nothing about but became conversant on as I wrote my second novel:

    The parts of a bow and arrow
    Most popular guns for concealed carry
    Strangulation without death can result in temporary or permanent vocal chord damage

    Those are just three off the top of my head that I spent internet time researching. I'm not an expert on any of these topics but I am able to write about them convincingly enough that people smarter than I probably won't be irritated by my descriptions.
     
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  13. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Taking your questions in order:
    1) You know more than you think you do (about your own life and opinions, at least), but it's being masked by outside influences.
    2) Turn off your TV, get your nose out of your phone, don't read newspapers, etc. And then see what it is you think about. You'll see what actually means something to you rather than what the media (or friends or family, or bosses, etc.) says should mean something to you. That's the beginning of the solution and the floodgates will open.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2016
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  14. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Writing isn't about knowing - unless you plan on writing non-fiction. Writing fiction is a slurry of what you imagine, what you believe, what you wish, what you fear, what you love. And anyone at any age has those elements.
     
  15. Kikijoy
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    Kikijoy Member

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    The best thing about writing is that is gives you the power of being the expert. Critics are around to give you some feedback and insight, but at the end of your writing the person who remains is you. The best advice I received when I started writing was to write what you know. Embrace little things. I use to write poetry a lot and I would take small moments and transform them into something significant (like a man giving an orange slice to a cat).

    You might think you don't know anything about the world, and I say that is better than thinking you know everything. Try to use your writing to learn if you want. Write about something you do everyday, like making a grilled cheese or taking a shower. They are simple acts but through them you can show people a characters thoughts and how they see the world.

    If all else fails, just free write. Free write and then you can see where your thoughts tend to go.
     
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  16. Pixelated Porn
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    Pixelated Porn Member

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    So what I do, and I am backlogged like a mofo, is I have some general idea about a type of story I want to write. Now, I will have something in my personal life I am obsessed with or thinking about a lot. I will merge these two together and usually a coherent story will gel. Then it is months of note taking before writing. If you don't think about it for a while and have this story nags you with little notes to make then you really are not going to have anything at least novella length
     
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  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Take what you know and mess around with it.

    Something you wish you had done differently? Do it differently in fiction, and see where it takes you. (It might end up that you did the right thing after all!) It wouldn't take much to make you really dislike a particular person, so take that step. You dislike them. So use them as a character and see where that takes you. Something happened to you that made you feel really really good? Well change that. Make it not happen, or make it turn out badly. See where that takes you.

    I think folks get mired in trying to find stuff about their lives that is worth relating to others as a straightforward story—a memoir. Unless you've lived a pretty amazingly interesting life, that's a mistake, and can probably be why you stall. You know, instinctively, that your life isn't any more special than anybody else's. So start playing around with it.

    What do you wish was different? What could you screw up? Of course you change the characters names and other aspects of their makeup, so nobody knows this has an autobiographical edge to it. Change the setting, either to some other place you know about, or research some place you've never been, or a different time period, or just make up a new setting. But retain an element of your own reality to work with, and then work with it.

    What do you wish was different? What can you screw up?

    That's where stories can start.
     
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  18. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    'Dis.^ Many times 'dis. :superagree::superagree:
     
  19. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Paul Simon has made a very successful career out of writing songs. His method, so I've heard, is to start playing something he's heard. Then to play around with it. When he's got far enough away from the original, he records it.

    You could try something similar. (I think we call it fanfic?)

    Plagiarize the hell out of Game of Thrones...or whatever floats your boat.

    That's what GRRM did...took the Wars of the Roses, threw in the Mongols and a few dragons, and the rest is, as they say, anything but history!
     
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  20. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    You could I guess. But I'd prefer personally it didn't feel too close to something else. That it didn't feel too connected. So it'd have to quite a bit of change from the inspiration.
     
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  21. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    What I find helpful in this sort of situation is reading anthology books. The short stories are a quick and easy read and the subjects are often varied and interesting. They can help spark off ideas for bigger things. There's also a few non fiction anthology type books that I've read, if you're wanting to write about real life things. I read a really interesting one about pathology a few years ago, where the author basically interviews 18 pathologists and they talk about their most interesting cases.

    Read around, find a subject you're interested in and then read more that relate to that subject, you might find that you get a lot of ideas that way.
     
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  22. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Go to a library or bookstore (preferably used book store) and just wonder around with an open mind. You will be hit with a plethora of ideas, images and inspiration.
     
  23. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Googling random things then follow Wikipedia links to related material will lead you to interesting places.
     
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  24. Vrisnem
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    Vrisnem Member

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    If you're getting hit with inspiration during the day then take a quick minute to jot a few key words down in a notebook, on the back of a receipt, on your phone, etc. Then you can refer back to these when it is time to write.
     
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  25. KokoN
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    KokoN Active Member

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    I used to have the same problem. I think for me, it turned out that a lot of the stuff in my life I knew about, I didn't want to write about. It stemmed I think from a combination of finding these things boring because I was too familiar with them and certain, significant parts of my life being too painful to write about. For you, there might be an entirely different reason. So keep trying. Google writing prompts and ideas and keep trying them until something clicks. It could take 5 minutes or a year. Just keep trying. :)
     
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