1. kneeswrites
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    kneeswrites Member

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    Why do i keep thinking my projects suck once i start

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by kneeswrites, Aug 11, 2015.

    I have been in a writing funk for a while. Recently I decided to try writing short stories because it's a more attainable goal and it would be good for my mental health to actually finish a project for once. I had this idea that I really loved, and I was super excited for it, and I thought it made sense and had a point etc etc and then I started it and I'm 1000 words in and I'm already just sitting here, hopeless, like "Why am I writing this? It's stupid. This story is pointless. This is the dumbest idea ever. It doesn't make any sense."

    I don't understand how two days ago before I started writing it, I could have it planned out and have it seem like such a good story and then as soon as I start writing it, it feels like a mess with no point.

    This always happens when I write. I like my idea, I finally start writing, and at some point it fizzles out and I hate it and I hate myself and I feel like it's the worst piece of trash to ever be written.

    I'm trying to push myself to write this story and finish it even if I hate it. One positive was today I really was not feeling it at all but I was determined to write at least 500 words, and I was able to churn out 500 words (of mostly BS, but at least words) in about 5-10 minutes.

    WHY do I hate myself and my writing and my ideas so much? What is going on? Am I messing up in the planning process or something?

    Sorry if this is a jumbled or pointless post. I am just feeling really down right now and I'm a little hypomanic.
     
  2. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think most writers feel that way at some point in their writing. Don't let it stop you. Write it anyway. Find what made you want to write it and don't bother about whether it turns out good or bad. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. Discover your story and all the endless possibilities. Just keep writing.
     
  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I may be wrong, but it sounds as if you're so focused on the goal that you start to write as soon as your ideas pop into your head. I'd say keep these ideas, but nurture them. Give them time to gel into scenes you can envision clearly, characters that you know well (and love). See if you can discover where plot holes are likely to occur and spend some (very fun!) time figuring out how you might plug them.

    Maybe a couple of new characters will solve the problem? Something in their past connects your two main characters instead of them just randomly meeting each other on the street? Maybe if your story takes place at different time of year the events will be more plausible? Something happens just after a particular bit of technology gets invented, rather than just before? Your character takes the train to a different destination from your earlier plan, which allows the setting to make more sense?

    Just having an idea doesn't make a good story spring into being. I'd say give yourself time and let all the story elements come to life BEFORE you start writing.

    Then ...stick to it, no matter what.

    If you walk away in disgust every time you hit a snag or lose enthusiasm, you'll never get finished. We ALL hit snags. A snag-free writing experience rarely, if ever, exists. The difference between people who finish stories and those who don't is the ability to stick it out through snags. People who back off, take a wee break, then figure out a way to make their stories 'not stupid' any more, are the people who finish.

    There is no magic wand that will turn you into a writer who finishes things.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2015
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    What @jannert said.

    People often get the wrong idea about writing, as if all one needs to do is open the "creative" spigot and words, ideas and images spew forth, unbounded, and arrange themselves into a harmonious whole. It's not like that at all. Writing takes careful forethought, even for pantsers. At the same time, there is a tendency among beginning writers to a) expect that perfect finished product on the first go and b) when it doesn't happen, to assume that it's because "my writing sucks". As a rule, first drafts are...well, first drafts. Not for general distribution. Much editing needed. Right now, you are aspiring to First Drafthood.

    So, if your "inner critic" is looking at your embryonic work and saying "that sucks", send it to the skating rink the fast way (the critic, not the writing). You have work to do.

    Oh, and if you suddenly have an inexplicable urge to clean out your closets or put all your CDs in alphabetical order...ignore it. That's your inner critic gone underground.

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2015
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'd add, don't get focused on hating your stuff. Get focused on fixing your stuff.
     
  6. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I agree with Ed and Jannert. Hating your story before you even start is a great way to shoot it dead before it has a chance to blossom. Sometimes what helps me when I hear the Inner Critic™ in me is repeat the MST3K Mantra, but replace it with the necessary details:

    “If you're wondering how s/he eats and breathes, and other science facts-” (your characters going ‘La la la’ is optional here) “-Just tell to yourself it's just a [draft], you should really relax.”
     
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  7. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Ah, you have a terrible affliction. It's called artistry, and there is no cure. Your only hope now is to keep practicing what you're doing until other people tell you that your work has gotten better. It won't ever seem better to you, but you have to just trust what they are telling you.

    And if you need someone to talk to, there's no mental illness thread or sub-forum, but I'm BpD II and there are a couple of us around on here. Feel free to PM at any time.
     
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  8. james82
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    james82 Member

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    Is there something there or not? That's what you need to figure out.

    Is there some sort of potential in the story itself that makes it so you say to yourself...
    "I can't give up on this." That's what you need to look for. It could be a character,
    a particular scene, a plot device, a theme, etc. but just something that makes it so
    you can't let go of it and KNOW you have to finish it.

    I'm always in and out of doubt with my current drama, that comes with the writing process,
    but I know deep down that there is a key element that makes my story stand out, and that's
    the way it's told, and I'm still evolving the plot and characters as I actually have been doing
    that for years now. I'm a little stuck on the overall structure of the story, but my
    ending specifically is the main reason why I'll never give up on it until there is a draft
    in my hands. I have to get to that ending no matter what, whatever it takes.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  9. Aaron Lopez
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    Aaron Lopez Member

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    @kneeswrites , what's your planning process?
     
  10. kneeswrites
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    kneeswrites Member

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    Thank you all so much for your encouragement and advice.

    My planning process... it basically goes like this: I get an idea for a character or a scene or an event or whatever, I obsess over it in my mind for a while, I start to put it down on paper via shorthand notes, I try to figure out what the point of the story is, I vaguely arrange a sequence of events which consists mostly of a specific beginning middle and end and I just jot down "And stuff happens in between" thinking I'll get it once I start writing but it never works out well. And then I start writing.

    I have never finished a project. Okay, I lied - when I was like 10 I wrote a Nancy Drew ripoff that was twelve pages long, and I wrote a short story in elementary school about a tiny man named Paul who saves the world, and in high school I finished a short story for my creative writing class. But I have never really truly had a polished piece of writing other than some of my poetry maybe. I just hate myself so much.

    I'm proud of myself though... I believe in my idea so I continued to write this story and I'm actually progressing with it. I'm excited. To be honest, I don't even care if it's awful. I think it will be a huge wake up call and a huge thrill to have finished a story for the first time since I was 17. I really need to make myself come to this forum because it's really good for me and you guys are all so good for me.
     
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  11. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    It probably isn't as bad as you think. Can you post an excerpt.
     
  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Just remember this. Perfection never appears the first time you try something. You will be crap at anything you do, until you've practised a lot, and learned how to do it better. If you walk away from everything that doesn't go right first time (or second, or third), you'll probably accomplish nothing in your life, will you? So don't make writing any different.

    Of course your first writing efforts will be crap. So see what you can do to make them better.

    The most important tip I can give you is to read. Read books for pleasure to get a feel for what a 'good' book is like. (If you want to play football, you first watch football games played by people who already know what they're doing, right?) Then read books ABOUT writing, which will give you tips on all the things you're struggling to do.

    One particular word of warning. While this forum has lots of people who can give you encouragement and share your triumphs and blue funks, don't rely on us to build your story for you. Part of learning to write is learning to solve your story problems yourself. If your characters get 'stuck,' then it's up to you to unstick them. If you think your character is boring, then you must find a way to make him/her more interesting. Play what-if games with yourself. What if an earthquake happened in my setting, instead of a fire? What if my character was older, younger? More athletic? Breaks his leg? Don't come onto the forum and say "My character is boring, what do I do to make him more interesting?" Trying to brainstorm solutions instead of working them out for yourself is a very bad habit, and will hold you back as a writer. So is seeking approval for every idea that pops into your head. If the idea intrigues you, that's all you need. Just get to work on it and get it written. Don't encourage other people to hold your hand during this process.

    Once your story is finished, THEN is when you should seek feedback from other people. You want to find out if your story works, and there's only one way to do that. Put it out there and see what comes back. But write it yourself, first.

    Good luck. Have fun. And if you don't do it already ...start reading! Forget TV and movies as inspiration. Read. That's the medium you're choosing to work in, so you need to get a feel for how written stories work.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015
  13. kneeswrites
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    kneeswrites Member

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    lolol It's basically my brain vomiting into microsoft word.

    I didn’t know Wren Black, but I know everything about her death. I know that one night sixty-eight days ago, she decided to walk down a long stretch of quiet highway in our small town despite the storm heading our away. I know that it was a Wednesday, and it was sixty-six degrees that night, and the moon was a bright white disc in the smoky night, and the air was damp enough to fog your glasses up if you were unfortunate enough to wear them (which she didn’t).

    I know that on that night, Wren had her hair pulled back in a ponytail and wore a pair of faded yoga pants and a turquoise wife-beater and black sneakers and a black backpack. I know that she looked casual and effortless and beautiful, because that was how she always was in high school, swaying down the halls with grace and confidence people like me could only fantasize about. I know that at some point, a car pulled up beside her on the gravelly shoulder and whoever was driving began to talk to her.

    That’s all I know. I need to know more.

    I stare at the sky. The skin on my back burns against the snow on the frozen ground. Flurries fall from the blackness and melt on my warm, red-wine-flushed skin. My mouth tastes like death and I don’t feel empty-headed enough so I need another drink. I know if I try to stand up, I will puke all over the snow, but I wobble up anyway.

    I retch over a snowy mound of soil, the scalding fermented vomit running in a steaming river through the yard. I hope nobody is awake at this hour and watching me through a window, naked and drunk and puking in the snow in the middle of the night.

    Wiping my mouth with my arm, I stumble up the icy steps to the front door and somehow manage to get inside without cracking my skull on the sidewalk. The air feels like a hot musty blanket laying over my face after the crisp, clean air of the cold night.
     
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  14. kneeswrites
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    kneeswrites Member

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    I have never really been very ...outward with my writing. I have been private and kept it to myself and kind of lived in my head. This is me trying to reach out because I feel like maybe I need to connect with other writers. I am scared to share my writing with people and I'm scared to share my ideas. I am terrified of being told that I can never be a writer since it's the only thing I do. Which funnily enough makes it harder for me to pursue it.
     
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  15. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I do this constantly. It's annoying. I "nurture" all of these ideas until they no longer seem like good ideas, and they just seem like my ramblings that I wasted a whole lot of time on for no reason.

    Then I write it anyway, and someone tells me it's pretty alright, and I don't really know what they see in it, but the cycle continues because it must.

    I think @Jack Asher hit the nail on the head. It's just that writing is kind of a weird art, in the sense that it's also very technical and staunch at certain times, and in certain forms. Because of that, I think that we don't always see it as an "art," nor do we always see authors as "artists."

    We just have to give ourselves a little more slack, and remember that this is pretty normal for the process of a creative. Print this out and put it where you write to remind yourself that you'll get through it, and land on #6, even if it takes forever and changes a little in the process -- the thing about writing for fun is that there aren't any deadlines, so you don't have to beat yourself up so much about how long you spend on a project and how many words you write daily.

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, I think you're on the right track entirely. Don't feel you need to show your unfinished work around. I NEVER do that.

    I think all of us who 'write' have felt we can't do it, at some stage. But stop worrying about what might happen, or might not happen, and just get stuck in. And have fun. Get enthusiastic about your story, rather than worrying about making mistakes. Enthusiasm will come through in your writing. So will timidity, so don't allow that to take over your brain!

    Don't forget ...ANY and all mistakes can be fixed. So don't worry about making them. Accept that you will make them.
     
  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I love that!

    I remember my particular nadir moment. I was in the middle of Borders bookstore in Glasgow (while it was still on the go) and standing in the middle of the second floor fiction section. I looked around and thought ...shit. Just what the world needs. Another damn book!
     
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  18. kneeswrites
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    kneeswrites Member

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    That is how I feel often. I go to Goodwill and see all the random old paperbacks that nobody cares about and I get really sad because I realize how many writers exist vs. how many writers actually "make it."
     
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  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    At least those books were all bought at least once. And may be yet again. :)
     
  20. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I think that's more of a charity donation than a ‘Pile of shit no one cares about.’ At one point, that stuff was important to someone (general ‘someone’), but they outgrew it and donated it to Goodwill so someone else can enjoy it. I mean, you'd probably find some Stephen King books in there, and he was one of the authors who 'made it'.
     
  21. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I wouldn't worry about your projects, everyone introspective can be pretty self-conscious and self deprecating. That you care enough to make a post about it, and you still want to be a writer despite it, is I think the sign someone deserves to be called a writer unironically. Please don't put your work down - especially if you easily put yourself down too. And I also wouldn't worry at all about canoninity - making some great impact in human culture, you can't control that sort of thing.

    All worrying about that will do is make your own self-doubt even worse than it already is. Far too many writers focus on making something 'good literature' rather than actually making something good. And too many authors are only recognized after their death. And too many hacks get popular for no real reason. You don't have any control over what will happen to a work after you've finished it - it's kind of like raising a kid in a way. You've got to feed it and nurture it and prepare it for the world, but if the kid makes it is down to luck and the hardwork of itself and it's friends (publishers, critics, advertisers, readers on Goodreads and sites like this, blah blah blah). Just keep focused on the one thing, because the other way lies madness or your own work suffering.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015
  22. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I agree. To continue with the child-rearing analogy, it's like taking a newborn and expecting him/her to grow up to be the next Neil deGrasse Tyson. You've no idea what the child will grow up to be, all you can do is do the best you can. If all they can (or want) to do is work at some small local library, then, that's just fine.

    A book is kind of like that. If you expect the book to be the next Greatest [Insert Nation] Novel, one that would re-define human culture as we know it, then you're setting yourself up for disappointment before you even pen down the first word. I'll be honest, the stuff I'm writing will likely be stuffed away with all the other countless stories, just one more thing in a long list of other things. I'm actually kind of OK with that.

    Granted, that doesn't mean I can just write absolute shit and publish it, no. All the stuff about making sure everything's nice and tight, interesting, etc. goes without saying. The whole idea, OP, is to just write the story and don't worry about it. Trust me, I wasted ten years stewing with worry over my fantasy, sci-fi, and historical mystery because I kept putting too much pressure on myself. I was expecting myself to be the next George R.R. Martin, the next Agatha Christie. The next Matthew Stover. Only now have I finally gotten rid of the anxiety and actually started writing them. Without caring one bit how they'll end up in the future.

    Just write your projects. Complete them.

    Good luck! :D
     
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