1. Mikry
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    Mikry New Member

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    Paralysed by Free Will

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mikry, Aug 22, 2014.

    Hey guys! Nice forum you have here!

    Anywho, I've resolved to write more in my personal time; I recently finished school and as I am studying a field not at all related to English literature at university, creative writing is something that I now have to do on my own time.

    My problem however is that I don't know what to write about. At school I would always be given some sort of general guidance of what I should write about, and now that I don't have said metaphorical spark plug any more, I'm finding it very difficult to really even begin writing. I suppose a good analogy would be that my creative mind is a photo of the entire universe, but the resolution is too low to discern anything. At least I hope that's what problem is.

    I know I can write well, I know I am not devoid of ideas and creativity, and yet I spend hours staring at a blank page, and what little I do write feels incredibly uninspired (often borderline cringe-worthy). Of course, all of these failed staring contests with my laptop screen have chipped away at both my confidence at writing and my will to try. Clearly I am in a very dangerous spiral.

    Do any of you guys have some advice for me? I'd be very grateful. I doubt it's relevant but at the moment I'm trying to write brief scripts for comedic sketches. It's a form of creative writing I never really got much of an opportunity to employ at school, and one that I have always love the idea of being good at.
     
  2. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    If you need some sort of general guidance, then make it yourself. For starters, ask yourself this question: which genre do you like to read the most? Generally the genre you like to read is the genre in which you like to write. That's a limitation of sorts right there.

    You could also make a list of elements in a story (e.g. character names, locations, objects, etc.). Write them all down in one list and number each one - then get someone to pick three or four numbers from that list, without them knowing what the elements are. Now you can say that you have to include those elements in your story.

    If you'd prefer a machine to do it for you, this website would be very helpful to you (http://www.seventhsanctum.com/) and this page in particular (http://www.seventhsanctum.com/index-writ.php). Just work to these paramaters, and they should help you greatly. Hope this helps you on your way. :)
     
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  3. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    You have probably read at least one novel that you liked, but thought it missed a lot of potential. Revise it so that it reaches that potential. Keep all concerns out of your mind other than whether you like your own revision of the novel.

    You cannot decide to have a great idea. Great ideas are reactions to what you witness. The best way to force yourself to witness something that provokes a great idea is to revise something.
     
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  4. JamesBrown
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    JamesBrown Active Member

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    You've got the title of your book already, the title of this thread. Build a plot around the idea of being Paralysed by Free Will and not knowing what to write or, perhaps, what to do in life.
     
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  5. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    You know what they say, write about what you know.
     
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  6. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    And research what you don't! :D
     
  7. JamesBrown
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    JamesBrown Active Member

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    Or write Fantasy and just make everything up.
     
  8. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Regardless of how that was meant to be taken, it is actually excellent serious advice. If I had a list of recommendations to authors, then near the top would be "embrace the full meaning of the term 'fiction' -- never hesitate to write whatever story you feel like writing and to design a fantasy setting to accomodate it."
     
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  9. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Take a moment to think what really excites you, what gets you all pumped up; running and gunning? Ship to ship battles in space? Hack 'n slash sword fights? Spells and sorcery? Sex? Romance? Light-hearted, happy-go-lucky fun or gritty realism? Horror? Military life or depictions of homeless drifters? Some combination of different things? Whatever it is, it has to inspire you, really have you itching to get back home just so you can sit down and write.

    That's what @KaTrian and I do with our stories and so far it's worked for us. Whatever you choose, good luck and welcome to the forum! :cool:
     
  10. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    What is very likely happening is that you're still in 'spoonfed' mode and you're having a hard time shifting gears:(. Thinking for yourself is not something that educational institutions encourage, so you need to take the time to relax and let your brain reboot. If you can bear to do nothing at all for awhile that would probably be best, but if you really must write then try a journal-type exploration where you tell yourself what you've told us here---explaining that you're having trouble and why you think this is the case, expressing fears and frustrations, etc. If you can work through this paralysis it might help, but you might also consider some freewriting. Sit down in front of a paper or screen and write anything that comes to mind. No one is going to read it and it doesn't matter you've said, but it might help to loosen the bonds and let you think more freely.

    But above all, don't get discouraged. This kind of thing happens to students who leave more 'restrictive' environments. Just give yourself time for your creativity to reassert itself, then the writing will begin to improve and the ideas will be yours.:)
     
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  11. Mikry
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    Mikry New Member

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    Thank you guys for all of your great advice! It's in fact so much advise that it's too much for me to deal with each post individually!

    I think something I need to do is go back to the basics. I need to slightly change my perspective of writing to one where I'm allowed to pursue any corridor I find interesting, and not worry about going too off-topic or exceeding the word limit. Additionally, I think I've realised that some of my fundamental skills are lacking, such as putting together a plot, conjuring up a setting and even character development. I come from a background where I was given that foundation and expected to build on it. A good metaphor (it seems I'm using a lot of metaphors today) would be that I can drive a manual car but was never taught to how to go from neutral to first gear without stalling, with the transition representing those basics I'm lacking.

    Thus do you guys know of any good online resources for learning the aforementioned basics? :)
     
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  12. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I cannot emphasize enough that the best way to make incremental progress toward a masterpiece is to begin by revising or reinterpreting someone else's work. Preferably work that you enjoy greatly but you wish significant parts of it were different. It does not even matter what you intend to do with your revision. In the best case scenario, you come up with something that achieves the full potential that the original author tried to achieve (or a different kind of potential that the original author simply chose not to focus on), and you contribute something to the world that improves people's selection of things to enjoy. In the worst case scenario, you become familiar with the thought processes of a successful author at work and you expose yourself to interesting scenarios and tricky problems that kindle your imagination.

    Necessity is the mother of invention. The best way to improve at chess is not to play chess, but to solve chess puzzles. Solving a puzzle may appear at first glance to be nothing more than "playing someone else's game", but it forces you to expand your mind. It forces you to invent solutions that other people have already thought of, but the point is not that other people have thought of the solutions -- the point is to make you better at inventing. And it exposes you to situations that would not have occurred in your own games -- contrived situations with no solution other than certain elements of theory that are actually very useful when you apply them to your own games, but only a genius could intuitively recognize how to apply the theory in an uncontrived situation without having practiced it. Think of revising someone else's work as solving a chess puzzle, or even going through someone else's game move-by-move and revising all the bad moves (which is another proven way to improve at chess).

    Never lose sight of that. You will encounter well-meaning advice that amounts to little more than "unleash your imagination" or "write what you would want to read" -- which is a great end goal, but what steps can you actually take toward it? Well, this is the biggest step.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2014
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    An interesting contrast, I was thinking along the same lines but instead of 'inspire' and 'we like X', I was going to say, what bothers you? What would you say to the world if you had a platform to speak from? Is there a character you would write when you read characters other people write?

    Also, NaNoWriMo is coming up. Take the challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November. It's a good motivator for some of us.
     
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  14. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    @daemon - That's exactly what I'm doing with the library books I read. I look at it, consider the prose, story, characters, and the way it's actually constructed. I can actually spot out the bad books that are choked with purple prose and bad writing in general now. :D Still have trouble trying to spot what makes the books I like good.
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This forum has a lot of resources, start in the resource and articles sub-forums.
     
  16. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Now that you mention it, we do that too. :D Basically whenever we're watching a movie or TV show, reading, or whatever. I've done that with music as long as I can remember: "wow, this is great! But I would do it this way..." That's the single biggest influence on the kind of music I write for the band.

    Same thing with saying something: be it a novel or a song... well, someone smarter than me once said "if you don't have anything to say, it's best to say nothing at all." You don't need to get preachy, but it's good to have something to say through your art. Otherwise, why produce it?
     
  17. Samsam
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    Samsam New Member

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    Or as you said "At school I would always be given some sort of general guidance of what I should write about" then try to find some kind of workshops online that has a special criteria/rules/guides you have to follow and the take it from there. Like this site has a contest whit the goal to keep writers writing... http://www.lifeofwriters.com/
     

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