1. TOmRL
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    TOmRL Member

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    The courage to write

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by TOmRL, Dec 28, 2014.

    I have the opposite to writers block. I have idea's I want to write about but just can't bring myself to actually write about it. My own words look really stupid. I have ideas, people, art I want to do justice with my words but it seems impossible. I want people to tell me what I'm doing wrong yet don't want anyone to see it at all.:meh:
    Normal for beginners?

    Second question. I hear teachers say to my classmates that their article was really well written. What does that even mean? I thought my stuff was thorough enough.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014
  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Not normal, no. You know full well that no one can tell you what you're doing wrong (if anything) if you don't let them read your work. My advice? Grow up, get over yourself and submit your stories to the proper forums here when you can, for critique. If you can't do that, you'll never be able to submit your work to publishers and you'll never be a professional writer.

    Second question. How would we know? Ask the teachers about what they liked about your classmates' writing and didn't like about yours.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Normal? Yes, in the sense that it's common. But common or not, it's counterproductive and will keep you from progressing with your writing.

    One possible strategy could be to start by writing about things that are less important to you, to separate the anxiety of letting people see your writing, from the anxiety of letting people see your most important ideas. Someday, you'll have to face both at once, but you don't have to start out that way if you don't want to.

    I'd have to see their writing to know exactly what the teacher was referring to, but your saying "thorough" gives me a possible hint. "Thorough" is not a full evaluation of a creative activity. It suggests that there is nothing incorrect or illogical, but it doesn't necessarily suggest that there are any unexpected ideas, or humor, or charm, or special grace.

    But I'm not suggesting right now that you seek to achieve unexpected ideas, humor, charm, or special grace. Right now, while you're nervous about just writing, just write. Just get words down. Regularly. Frequently. Let the next step wait a little while.
     
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  4. Ralinde
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    Ralinde Member

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    Being a writer is a scary thing. You're putting yourself down on paper and sadly there are always going to be people that don't like what you have to say. We are all different so of course it would be strange to think that every single last person is going to like your work.

    The secret is to learn how to accept criticism. Yes, it's scary but you won't learn anything if you don't put yourself forward. Most people will in fact be quite good about it. They will compliment you on what you did well and even suggest what areas you can improve. I would suggest trying out fan fiction if you haven't already. (If you have, feel free to skip the rest of this paragraph.) Find yourself a beta on the site (Fanfiction.net), write something and post it. The Beta should be a decent writer and will be able to give you some good feedback. There are thousands on the site so you will be able to find someone, it just may take a bit of looking at first to find a good match. It is a great place to practice writing and then you will also have the benefit of receiving reviews from readers. Best of all, you'll be completely anonymous. You will get some negative comments but it is the internet and again, it will be good practice for you to hear negative criticism.

    Alternatively, you can try writer's courses if you feel your writing isn't good enough. Forums are all well and good but I think if you are really serious, joining a local writing group or signing up for a course is a great way to go. Since you mentioned you are at school though, maybe you won't do this for a couple of years as many of them cost money. If you do want to do one however, I recommend trying out the UK Writer's College. You can find them online and their courses cover off on almost everything you can think of. You can do them at home or anywhere that you have access to the internet and a computer. They are all run by professional, published authors. Most of them cost about $500 Australian but they are very good value for money. I started with 'Basics of Creative Writing' and was blown away by it. Lots of simple things I never knew and had not been taught through the school system but are so necessary to becoming a good writer.

    Finally, my last piece of advice is that you need to love what you do. The more you love it, the easier it is to write. Don't compare yourself to others. They aren't you for a start and you're only wasting energy thinking about them. You are you and your writing will develop if given the chance. A lot of the time we all want to write the perfect story straight off the bat. Sadly though, that is an unrealistic view of things. The difficult part about writing is ignoring how much you may not like a certain part and leaving it to come back on in the second draft. If you don't and you sit there and agonise over it you will never get any further. Believe me, I know. I can tell you right now that I am a certified perfectionist and struggle just as much as you when it comes to believing in myself and just getting on with the job.

    You can do. I believe in you. Don't be afraid to shout out that you want to be an author. In fact, say it as many times as it takes to convince yourself. Good luck.
     
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  5. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    If you want my advice, don't think so much about it. Just pick something you've been wanting to write about but couldn't find the courage to and write about it! Even if it looks stupid to you, continue writing. The trick is to get your thoughts down on paper; you can refine those in the final draft.
     
  6. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    I assume you are a rather shy and introverted type of person, correct?

    Speaking as someone who is a borderline recluse, i can somewhat relate to this experience. My big problem is names; names of people, names of factions, names of races or places or anything at all. No matter what i come up with it always seems kind of stupid the more I am exposed to my names.

    Although i can relate to this problem with content as well. I am currently nearly finished writing the draft of my first novel which is basically Me: The Book.

    I'm not really sure what advice to give you besides, "stop being shy."
     
  7. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it is very healthy to be critical of your writing up to a point. EDIT: I started typing an over-long and wordy response below, sorry about that: -

    There are many people who have a rather inflated opinion of the things they produce; and the things they produce are invariably shit; but their delusion and arrogance prevents them from ever improving. They are the people who will never ask a question and will instead sit sagely nodding their head to something they do not understand, or react with disdain when the limits of their knowledge are laid bare rather than seeking to learn more. If criticised it must be the critic who is wrong, because their work is infallible.

    And then there are people who are so scared of criticism (perceived rejection) that they will never reveal their work. They will suffer the same fate as the arsehat I described above, but for different reasons.

    As with most unpleasant things, the best way to deal with it is just to get it done. Post you work, get the critiques, improve your work.
     
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  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with other posters - this is a totally normal state, and it's also totally counter-productive.

    Try to get some distance from your writing. When someone gives you a critique, they aren't criticizing YOU, or even your writing in general. They're just looking at one particular piece of work.

    This may be easier if you ask for really focused criticism (and find a reader with the discipline to confine her comments to that topic). Like, instead of throwing a novel-size bundle of paper at someone and saying, "is it any good?", try posting a few paragraphs, saying, "I've been working on my characterization. Does character X feel real, to you? Would you want to read more about him? Please ignore everything else and really look closely at character X." It's a slower approach, but it's definitely faster than never showing anything to anybody.
     
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  9. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Word. Welcome to my internal torture. I can never create the story to the potential it has, so am finding it harder and harder to start down the long road of perpetual disappointment. I've got two film ideas a director friend is desperate for me to write, but I know I won't be able to capture the idea the way I see it. I don't feel ready.

    As for the second question, it's their opinion, so ask them.
     
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  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Does your perpetual disappointment change when you find out that other people value—even "get"—your work? Or do you still feel it's so imperfect that you can't enjoy it at all?
     
  11. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    It changes. I do get a sense of achievement when I get genuine praise. It's good confirmation I'm on the right track.

    I had real doubts about my first script attempt, but was encouraged when people were responding well and wanted to make it. (It didn't end up getting made.)
     
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  12. Revanchist
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    I've been trying to do many creative outlets in my past, and I had a really good friend who once told me to not care about what people think. It's actually a bit more complex than that. I realized that the best work, and that of which I'm most proud of is the one that I do according to MY desires. I often thought "Oh I wonder what some reader would think about this story, I better make it simpler, I better make it cooler, I better ..." and I realized if I thought like that it would NEVER be good enough, because you can't please everyone, and by caring what others thing, you're trying to accomplish the impossible.

    Teachers are humans too. And all humans have the ability to be good mentors as well as oblivious bastards. Which one your teacher is, you can probably find out. I was really passionate about stories and fantasy but I always had bad grades in my mother language because I hated old history books and stories. The professor kept looking down at me, and at the end of the year I told him I will write a book, and I hope that he will read it. He just kept himself from laughing. It can be truly discouraging when people dismiss you without knowing what ideas and universes you carry in your head. It's a mistake, and it's important that you spot that they're doing a mistake and not let it bring you down. The mind is an overly complex thing, at the end, write even if you feel like it's bad. Just keep going. Then tweak it, and fix it, and make it to your desire. And then finally read it again and while you're doing it be 100% sure it's what YOU like, not what your teacher, brother or mother likes. If you want to bend the boundaries and develop that feeling of no care, find something private, something you love but you'd never share. Sexual or perverted thing you like, revel in it and write it down. You'll never share that with anyone, but imagine it so you know what it's like to not truly give a damn.

    Fight that little bastard inside that tells you you're bad. People don't take it seriously but if you feel bad something isn't wrong. Slap the crap out of him, play some music, get angry at yourself, resist! It's like a mental parasite.

    Oh and next time ask your teacher what it was about your report or article that was bad. If they give you real facts, like needing certain detail, certain points of view, learn from it and apply it on the next article. If they give you some BS excuse like "I didn't like the style, It lacks passion, It's boring" or "It's just not good", that's a sign of a person who doesn't want to spend time on you.

    I just want to add to you that you should sit down, and write. Even if it's bad. "Don't wait for inspiration to come," it will come when you sit, and fail for 15 minutes, and after that you get in tune. That's why studying becomes easier after a while. If you have ideas you're ready. Also start with a positive attitude. Play music, find a source of inspiration. It's a lot to swallow at once but find a way. Resist the pull downwards.
     
  13. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Thanks, but I did. I'm well past that stage. I'm experienced enough now to have lost the sense of adventure and am now stuck with the workload as my first thought when an idea strikes. Not just the workload, but the expectations. Back when I used to just write there were no expectations. But I have found the source of new inspiration. I just need to secure it.
     
  14. Revanchist
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    Revanchist Member

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    Writing can be a bitch really. I just get so confused that one day I think I'm writing the work of gods, I gasp and enjoy it, and tomorrow I'm like "How the hell did I manage to create something this good?!" Inspiration really is important to grip by the throat not let it escape. Glad you're doing better :D
     
  15. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    @Ralinde
    "Being a writer is a scary thing."
    "I'm a certified perfectionist" :D
    Made my day.

    Man, do I agree. Murakami said you have to have the physical and mental strength when you write. You have to go to the dark place
    at the bottom of your soul and have the strength to go back to the surface. Bring the treasures back to the light.

    One thing I had no clue about was that a good writer must learn -- among other things -- this: at certain point not to give a f*ck.
    By very stating my points, my beliefs, describing what my character does and why I may piss sb off. And I will piss sb off, not that
    I want. But in order to stay true to who I am, I have to learn this.

    It seems we all -- ALL -- say the same words at the beginning of our journey: "Hey, I've got a great idea but you know, I kinda like
    don't know how to start."
    We all have great, incredible, brilliant ideas Hollywood would die to make into films. We are all geniuses. But one thing here, if you
    don' render that piece of brilliance on the paper, nobody will know. It's also good to assume, rather than being a genius, being commonplace -- it hurts less. Trust me.
     
  16. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    It's wonderful when someone gets what you want to say by your writing. So reassuring. And even then the person has no possibility to
    perceive that very notion with your eyes, simply because they are not you.
    But still, it's beautiful.
     
  17. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    2/ first...thorough sounds like what a history essay ought to be; you've covered all the salient points of Napoleon's life. Does it really need to be well-written in an essay? As has been mentioned, only the teachers who say that can tell you what they mean by it. Do they mean impeccable grammar and spelling? - you've spelt ideas two different ways above, so one of them must be wrong. Go back through your work to eliminate those. If it's a matter of style, what sort of style are they looking for? Churchill, for instance, based his style upon Gibbons' Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire - and a superb, sonorous style it is, too - but it's probably dated now. Or could you borrow some of this well-written work from your more praised class-mates to try to analyse what they're doing right. (Bear in mind that what they're doing right may simply be having parents from the right side of the tracks!)

    1/ Writing is, like war, 99% boredom and 1% blind terror...or perhaps it's 99% blind terror of sullying that pristine white page with your inadequate thoughts. If you're afraid of spoiling that virgin page, stop being a paper vegetarian...if everybody became vegetarian rather than eat any of those cute little animals, we'd have to kill all those cute little animals to stop them eating all our vegerarian food, in the same way that if there weren't writers, there'd be no need for paper!

    Just get on and write it, then (quite a bit later) go back and re-read it, keep what you like, change what you don't. Repeat. Another poster on this site (Edfrom NY) has commented, very sagely, that the first million words are your apprenticeship. Don't reckon on becoming any good until you've put in the work. You may be the exception that can just write, but do be prepared to put in the work.
     
  18. Korizan
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    Korizan Member

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    I have almost the same problem, but I right on my own, even though I know that I am not good. Practice makes you better :)

    If you want to share your ideas with other, you have to open up, man.
     
  19. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Reading this a long time ago gave me a lot to think about concerning (my own) shyness:

    “Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people.”
    - Andre Dubus
     
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  20. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I like this. It corresponds to what I said earlier about not giving a damn. I'd love to eradicate such quality. Hope it's possible.
     
  21. TOmRL
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    TOmRL Member

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    That's a good quote. I'm not actually shy though if that's what you're driving at.
     

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