1. njwh
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    njwh New Member

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    Struggling To Continue.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by njwh, Apr 3, 2013.

    I've been writing since I was 14 (I'm 18 now).
    And since then I've started and stopped at least a hundred different projects. Some I've made a lot of progress, most very little. I've never done more than about 1/6 of a novel.

    I want to be a writer. I'm going to do an Associate Degree in professional writing and editing next year. But between now and then I want to write, and I want to commit to a project full on.
    What the best way at going about this? Normally I just jump right into it, but should I plan for months?

    Also I'm having trouble choosing the genre I'd most like to write in. I sort of want to do Fantasy, but with ASOIAF's great success will there really be much room in that genre for a while?
    I also sort of want to write a modern/sci-fi/secret group/secret product/parallel world type thing. Likened to that of Fight Club, The Beach or The Dark Fields.

    How do I choose between the two? I know as an established writer it isn't wise to genre hop. It's also wise to write singular novels, and I could do a much better job at that writing modern singulars; feeling as though if I WAS to write Fantasy it would need sequels.

    So in summary:
    How do I commit to one project?
    How decide which genre out of the two to do? (I'm leaning slightly towards modern)

    Cheers.
     
  2. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    If you never stay with one project long enough, try shorter ones. Maybe you aren't ready to write a novel. Some people (like me) never are. So, instead of a novel, try and come up with just a short story, and make yourself finish it.
     
  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can tell that you are at the crossroads, and it's understandable that you are unsure how to proceed.
    The best advice I can give you is that you are very young, and you haven't had a chance to learn how to write fiction properly yet. Instead of waiting on a degree, you should get some books on writing and read them.

    There are also a few writing exercises you should try also, most importantly:

    1. Write a list of all your favourite books and films. Then assign the correct genre to each (read Wikipedia article about literary genres). From that you'll see which genre you prefer. That will be the best genre to start with.

    2. Take a couple of weeks to write down every single story idea you have, whether it's one sentence or ten pages long. Then see which of those you wouldn't mind spending 2-4 years working on (if you are determined to write a novel, less so obviously for shorter works) because that's the approximate length of time it takes to finish a decent book. That way, you can choose the best story for you.
     
  4. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    What's that got to do with what the writer in you wants to write!! Choosing a genre just because it might be the most commercially viable option seems wrong.
     
  5. GreasyLocks
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    GreasyLocks Member

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    write what feels natural and won't that form your identity as a writer?
    I feel if you restrict yourself genre wise you won't discover what the actual features of your writing are

    I write short stories, I've done a bit of fantasy, some gritty modern stuff and a bit of noir set in Chicago but I noticed certain types of characters, certain ways of writing and some themes and imagery still emerging in lots of things I write. I'm 18 too and I'm finding the best thing is just to write and discover what you're really all about
     
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Why do you stop projects you've started? Without knowing that, it's impossible to suggest a solution. I will tell you, though, that you should absolutely NOT worry about genre at this point. Genre is a marketing tool, nothing more. It's a way for booksellers to guide customers to what they think they want to buy. It has nothing to do with what you write. And your challenge right now is to develop as a writer. So, forget about selling anything for now.

    Given your age, I suspect that your inability to finish a project may be nothing more than the frustration with the length of time it can take to turn out a piece of quality writing. We often have images of the writer, sitting down, thinking for a minute or two, and then batting out a bestseller. Doesn't happen that way. It is a long, hard road, and even short pieces take time, not only to sketch out, but also to edit, refine, polish. Usually, with maturity comes patience. If this is the problem, then Idle's advice to try shorter pieces is spot on. Pick a character - even one that someone else created - and put him or her into a difficult situation, a crisis, dilemma or decision point. Then work him or her out of it. Don't worry about word count, or genre, or what you think it would look like in print. Just write it. That's a story. Then read a writer you like very much, and see how (s)he gets characters out of crises, dilemmas or decision points, and see how it compares to how you did. Then go write another. And another.

    No? Impatience isn't the issue? Then, could it be that you scrap hundreds of projects because none of them seem good enough to rank up there with the likes of Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Hemingway and Fitzgerald? "My writing sucks" is the agonized cry of the young writer. And I suspect this could also be your problem, given your concerns about how much room there might be in the fantasy genre. Accept up front that your first efforts will not be of publishable quality. I wrote my first novel nearly 20 years ago (don't be taken aback by the timeframe - life intervened). I've written three more since. Each one is better than the one that came before. I have great hopes for my current project. We'll see.

    But if you never finish a project, you'll never publish anything. So accept that writing is a learning process and don't worry about the mistakes you make. In fact, celebrate them, because they are how you learn. A child only learns to walk by falling down. Nothing wrong with it. The only problem comes from not getting up.

    Get up.

    Good luck, and keep us posted as to how you're doing.
     
  7. njwh
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    njwh New Member

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    You truly hit the nail on the head with this one Ed.

    I don't want to write short-stories if short-stories is not what I want to write.
    It's a matter of getting it perfect, of committing, of choosing the right path.
    I like what GreasyLocks said about not constraining myself to a genre and letting my creative ability carve that path for me.

    If only I could narrow down what I wanted to do more...fantasy or modern.
    Perhaps I'm being a reed in the wind by wanting to write fantasy, and it's mainly Martin's influence.

    I have so many stories to write...I just can't choose which one to start with.
     
  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Means to an end. If you're not finishing long projects, finish a short one. Believe me, it's nice to have a completed work under your belt.

    Those are three very different things, of which the first should be last (if ever - we never really get it perfect). As for choosing the right path, you don't really know at 18 what the right path is. So just go with what feels right at the moment. You don't need to choose the BEST project, you just need to choose one. So choose one. There's no penalty for getting it wrong. Because whatever you work on, you can learn from.

    I know how you feel. When I decided I really wanted to write historical fiction, it was because I was in the thrall of writers like Michener, Uris and Wouk. My first novel came about because I got impatient with completing the research I needed to do for the historical and I had two characters in my head for what was supposed to be the final segment. I couldn't wait, so I started writing. And writing. And writing. I had no plan, I just wanted to see where it would go. When I got about 2/3 of the way through, I took a week off from work just to write (single best week of my life). When I finally came up for air, I had over 400,000 words of what I could only call a family saga. Wouldn't have thought about writing one of those, but there it was. I eventually culled it down to 140K or so. I learned a huge amount from it. After it, I wrote three more and fragments of two others (shelved because I was dissatisfied with my progress), none of which were historicals, my so-called "chosen genre". All taught me something vital about writing, and a couple may someday be good enough to publish.

    Now, I'm working on my historical.

    Flip a coin. Pick one at random. It doesn't matter. The writing will be far more important than your choice of project, because whichever you choose, the fact that it's on your short list means it is already something you are interested in doing. My advice would be to choose the one about which you feel you know the most.

    Good luck.
     
  9. GreasyLocks
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    GreasyLocks Member

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    I have a few things on the go at the moment because I seem to have lots I want to do too, I find that working on them concurrently keeps me interested in each one and eliminates the patience factor!

    I would suggest you begin writing a couple of your ideas and just see which one comes to life more
    also you'd be able to compare them and see how your personal style influences both genres

    to use a film example, you may be the next Tim Burton or David Fincher, who projects their style onto many genres

    it's also good fun seeing how your own identity shows up across different kinds of stories, you learn things about yourself you didn't realise before
    :)
     
  10. NellaFantasia
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    NellaFantasia Member

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    I'm curious, have you ever written in these genres before? It'd be difficult to know which ones you'd like to write in if you haven't tried them out. There's no absolutes in writing so there' no harm in trying. If you decide you don't like it, you can move on to something else. Why worry so much about it now?

    As to how to keep to a project and complete it? A lot of discipline. Inspiration will come and go. Your confidence will come and go. If you're like me, you'll be struck upside the head right in the middle of your manuscript with all sorts of ideas for new stories, new characters, new plots, and you'll need the willpower to set those aside for a later date. Obstacles in life and in your story will cease your progress. Writing a novel is hard work, and the sooner you realize there's no magical solution to achieving a finished product aside from self-discipline, the easier it becomes to stick with it.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto the first paragraph above!

    try them all and see which you write best... as nella said, you can't know till you try...
     

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