1. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    what do you do when it feels like...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tesoro, Jan 4, 2012.

    ...you will never become a good writer? Or even a decent writer.
    I'm currently reading a good book about storytelling and creative writing and no other book has made me feel like "wow, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to learn all this!" Right now my confidence has crashed: my story seems lame, the one I am still awaiting answers from the publishers about feels like I could have done so much better, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to do that, and then i read this book that make me realize how little I know about writing. And the task seems almost unsurmountable... The more I read and learn about writing the more I realise I know nothing and probably wont ever be able to learn...
    To those of you who has ever felt like this: what do you do about it? How can you make it pass? Or can you?
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    What would you feel like ....

    ... when I point out that starting topics like this are not good forum etiquette.


    In all seriousness and honesty: the best way to improve yourself is to make you constantly question your own abilities. You always have to judge yourself against other, maybe better writers - and running the risk of asking yourself the point of it all - because it shows you are improving critically as a reader, and as a writer.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Don't worry about trying to master everything that is in some book on writing. Have confidence in your own voice and your own stories. Plenty of people who are technically proficient at doing the sorts of things you see in a book can't write successful stories.

    I find the feeling you have is more likely to come from reading a really good book. Arnold Bennett once said, of Joseph Conrad (I think in reference to his novel Chance):

    'this is a discouraging book for a writer because he damn well knows he can't write as well as this'.​

    I didn't get that feeling from Chance, but look at something like Lolita, by Nabokov, and you know you'll never be able to write something like that. But I don't have to write something like that to be happy with my writing, or to have others like it :)
     
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  4. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I've felt like this countless times. Like I've just read a good book and though, 'Wow my writing is bad lol'
    But feeling down about it isn't going to help you get anywhere. So I just write some more because I know by writing more makes the feeling pass. You'll probably never be satisfied fully with your writing. You're always going to look back and think you could have done better. But what can you do?
    Just keep writing and don't worry so much n_n
     
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  5. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    steerpike: Thanks! :love:

    Lemex: I'm sorry if my post was inapropriate, that was not my intention. Why is this bad forum etiquette? I thought it was something lots of people had been through at least once. Please feel free to report it if you want it removed. I don't mind.
     
  6. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Like... I've read a few "About the Author" blurbs at the end of books and for some reason I was always under the assumption that the people that make books are like in their late twenties and thirties and spent most of their life working at what they do. But then I saw one where the guy wrote his first big story when he was in college... which really surprised me because it made me wonder where he was when he was in high school. But when I get that feeling that I'm never going to be that good, I think there is only three ways to respond to it. The first is to just give up and move onto something else because you lost your motivation to write. But you also decide that this is something you really want to do for a living and just put a lot of your time into it, invest money in creative writing classes and books, maybe try to make friends in the field so you can ask them advice, etc. The final choice if you aren't really into it for the money is to just have fun with writing. Don't worry about getting better or anything like that but if you just keep writing, as long as you still enjoy it, it doesn't matter what happens.
     
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  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Your post itself wasn't inappropriate. It's fine. It's just the fact that you had an ellipsis in the title leading into your first sentence. I understand why people do it, it's just bad etiquette on an internet forum. I'm on more than one forum (not this one though) where you can be reported for it.

    But don't worry about it. It's really quite trivial.
     
  8. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I reach for the nearest pen and set about proving myself wrong.
     
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  9. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Agentkirb,

    The third choice is always the one for me. Just keep writing. In the end it comes down to the same old question, who do you write for? If you write for yourself, then it doesn't really matter if its perfect or not. You write because you want to write, you enjoy it, it's a passion etc. So the answer to the op is simple, keep writing. It may be good, it may not be. But maybe one day, when you're done with it, you'll be able to look back on it and say, 'hey I did it and it looks pretty good.' Then you can start thinking about the rest.

    As I've said elsewhere, I write for me, I publish for others.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  10. Batgoat
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    Batgoat Senior Member

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    Isn't there a quotation along the lines of "Those who can't teach?"
     
  11. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    First off, if you have finished a novel you are a better writer than most people. A novel is no easy undertaking.

    Secondly, you have a bad habit of taking all these "how to" books to heart. STOP IT.

    Thirdly, stop worrying about trying to learn about every little thing about writing and just write. I am willing to bet if you spent more time writing and less time worrying and reading "how to" books you would not only be a better writer, but you would also be a more confident writer.

    Lastly, it is widely known that most artists and writers are their biggest critics and tend to be overly harsh on themselves. Which is a good thing, because it makes them strive to be better. It is completely normal for you to have some self doubt. So stop passing judgement on yourself and let other people do it for you. I am sure it is not nearly such a travesty as you think it is. :)
     
  12. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    That second one made me LOL. It's true. But I do write, a lot. I've written 70K of my current story since mid november, just to give an idea. But I should probably read more novels instead, that's true. I agree, Those how-to books are probably ruining more than they're helping, but sometimes they seem irresistable to me :) It's nice reading about something that interest you, you know. (compared to when you went to school and had to study all those things that didn't interest you the least)
    thanks for the encouragement.
     
  13. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Think of good novels as "how to" books (because well, they are) and read a bunch of those instead. :D
     
  14. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Don't read how to books, just read GOOD examples of the kind of books you want to write. You'll figure out for yourself what works and what doesn't :)
     
  15. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks to everyone for your encouragement. And those of you saying self criticism is a good thing because it makes you want to improve- I never thought of it like that. it was great to hear. Maybe this cruel inner critic does serve a purpose, then.
     
  16. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    First thing I'd do is chuck the "how to" book. No book can tell you how to write and my writing suffered anytime I tried. We learn by writing and revising (based on our own learning and intelligent critique from trusted others). Question your own abilities, sure. Never get overconfident. Always strive to learn more wherever you can. BUT, don't get into these "how to" books. For writing at least, they just seem to be a soul-crushing way to exploit a young writer for a book sale.
     
  17. MVP
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    When I feel like that, I go read a crappy written novel.
    Hopefully I make it to the end without burning it or wiping my butt with it.
    Then I challenge myself to do better than that.

    Or, if you don't have the time, and you are old enough, I find a nice shot of rumpleminze works just as well. Hiccup.
     
  18. LaGs
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    LaGs Banned

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    I try to avoid getting bogged down with all the technicalities, which, in my opinion, can be superfluous. If you're worried about being so logical all the time, I feel it might detract from the creativity of it all. Let the mind go mad for a bit and see what happens. You can always look over it after some time, edit, see where you might have went wrong and see where you could do better.
     
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  19. Immy
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    Immy Member

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    The world would be a pretty boring place if people had to read the same stuff in every book they read. Some people will love books because they have a great storyline, and maybe dislike a better written book because they don't enjoy the storyline or find that they can't relate to the Author's style of writing, despite it ticking all the boxes.

    What I'm trying to say is that there's so much room on this planet for writers, and every writer is different. There will always be someone better than you, but not everybody may think that they're the better writer and they may in fact prefer your work. We're fortunate that the human population is so diverse and everybody is unique.

    Don't put yourself down. If you handed that 'rule' book to every Author, including those you admire, I doubt that they will agree with every rule there or that they will have ever used each single one.
     
  20. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Grab a how-to book by author A, then grab a how-to book by author B - and I can almost guarantee their advice/rules on how to write a great novel will be polar opposites. Best way to improve as a writer is to write - and read novels like you want to write.

    The best use for how-to books - paperweights.
     
  21. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Be aware that probably no writer in history has been great at all aspects of writing. Every novel, every story, has flaws in it somewhere. Perfection is not attainable. Writers are not evaluated on the basis of how few flaws they have; they are evaluated on their strengths. Nabokov is regarded as a great novelist, and his Lolita a great novel, but it has dull stretches in it. People celebrate it for the style, for how beautifully it is composed, but the characters do spend an awful lot of time just driving around in a car doing more or less nothing. Nabokov was a great stylist, and created great characters, but I wouldn't blame you for yawning a few times while reading him.

    On the other hand, Dan Brown writes exciting plots. Real page-turners. But his characters are paper-thin, his style undistinguished, and his stories ultimately preposterous. I find him laughable as a novelist.

    My point is that no writer is good at every little thing that comprises writing. You can always find something to complain about in every novel. So don't focus too much on your weaknesses; focus on your strengths. What are the aspects of writing that you ARE good at? Emphasize them and be proud of them. Sure, work on the areas where you're weak, but understand that you're not going to be strong everywhere.

    The critics, and the people who write "how-to" books on writing, always seem to set unreasonably high bars. Look at some published, successful novels, and you'll find that they don't measure up to so-and-so's criteria. Don't get down on yourself for not being great at everything. Try to be great at just some things first. If you can do that, you're already better than most of the writers out there.
     
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  22. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Minstrel: that was a good point, thanks! :) You're right, I guess we all have our weaknesses and strenghts as writers. I'll ditch those how-to books from now!
     
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  23. JessWrite
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    JessWrite Word Nerd & Proud! Contributor

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    Tesoro, I want to thank you for asking this question, as I had this problem just a few weeks ago! I bought my first how-to write books for children, read it, started feeling great, and then BAM! It talked about how to get the editor to like you, what to do for the editor, what he will hate...and such. I wanted to read how this author enjoyed writing for children. It didn't feel great anymore.

    What I've learned...come to Writing Forums to be encouraged not a how-to book. Thanks again, I really needed to hear this advice of others too. :)
     
  24. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Pretty much what shadowwalker said.

    I aspire to write historical mysteries one day, so I read them. I'm on the last book of two historical mysteries set in different time periods. (1880s Colorado and Ancient Egypt respectively.) Almost done with them.

    Good thing I have obtained a box full of books belonging to a historical mystery series set in early 1800s London for Christmas, huh? That and the series set in Ancient Rome.
     

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