1. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Work, Perfection, Nothing, Bull

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Swiveltaffy, Sep 1, 2014.

    Before I start, I will warn and apologize for my presentation; my mind is chaotic. I also apologize for even making this thread. Roots of vanity.

    So, I am a weak-willed creature. If one commands to do, I am a good worker; but I tell myself: "Read. Expand. Create." I flop as a fish might. It is like I do not know what my ocean is. So I flop. Ah, but there is the intense urge to do as I tell myself, but despite myself, I manage to falter day in and day out. The mind decays with time. Frustration builds and questions of arrival come. I was not like this quite so before. I wrote my D1, right? Discovered its garbage nature, trashed it -- re-fucking-vise -- and then as the mind collides with itself, ideas mount in such a manacle way that nothing occurs. A fear to create develops. It is hard to describe. It is simply as if a wall of screaming insanities (each dictating to do one thing or the next) assails endlessly. Paralysis. Feeling as if work has been done but halted at the start. Arise tomorrow. Pursue myself as a dog might, forgetting itself in chase for its tail. The repetition -- and realization of the absurdity of everything. Fall further. Cyclical.

    I am saying that nothing happens in this bout. Thoughts come: "Ah, but what if I strive to capture this -- this feeling battering?" How to do so? I must abandon form, plunge into the realms that discard all convention, strive to capture the abstract. But this recklessness creates the fear before that paralyzed. You feel this inner need for perfection. You understand that abstractness could easily need more exactness. You think: "Fuck, I despise to be published, and I never want it, yet this feeling does not remove my yearn to fine-tune and sculpt." This is good, though, yes? But fear and paralysis, and the mind -- the subconsciously conscious self -- is ravaging the background recesses of the mind; and pressure mounts as you press to the floor awaiting to break.

    I pause now to even acknowledge that I am even saying this. My circumstance does not permit such feelings. Yes the bottle of the brain, the "being" addressing the "being." Sorry, I digress. (Ha! You say, "Digress from what? You have no orientation.")

    What I mean: There is a point when I wish to rid myself of this idea of scrupulousness. I wish to abandon myself in an effort to express myself, yet I need myself to do this. But there is this repeatable failure of the self to do for the self. I understand, borrow Nike: Just do it. I agree. But this seems strangely insurmountable. It seems impossible to simply keep up with existence, despite the light work load. Caught within perceptions. The existential. But it's all shit, right? It is. Again I wander.

    But return. Does anyone else feel this? The difficulty of applying the self? The fear to create because of ineffability. It truly becomes hard orient oneself, as my post so explains. The ocean turns out to be the mind. It is a kettle, turned to boil, and everything meshes into an inescapable steam.

    And further, to abandon this idea of a "great work." Fuck Wagner. After all -- who the fuck am I? Why do I need to make something that is good? It's like I can't bring myself down; it's like I've got this bullshit idea that I shouldn't make crap. Sincerely, what even is that? It seems like arrogance; yet, I do not disagree with the pursuit. It just meddles.

    Of course, simply do. Do. Move. But stumbling down the hall as if drunk but lucid.

    I again apologize for this post; it is selfishness. Remove it if it seems to superfluous (and I do not mean that in a self-belittling way but earnestly).
     
  2. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    Yes. I've had this and it still haunts me now and again. One can get so bottled up with the need to express genius that nothing expresses itself except frustration. The key, is to release the pressure valve. Until very recently I had no idea's to put on paper. None at all. Couldn't not string a story concept together at all because there were no ideas. So I just wrote what was in my head, the frustration, the pressure, the insane urge to express meeting the wall of denial that the result would be any good.

    And it was junk, that stuff I wrote down. Just rant after bloody rant about how I was a special little snowflake who can't make art, just rubbish. But even that is something wanting expression and once you express it, the power it had is gone. Then after pages and pages of selfish snowflakey ranting some story ideas finally saw the light of day. Then, determined to get something to put in the critique section here I wrote an opening piece. And it was riddled with problems, so I rewrote it and it was worse. Then I came back to it a week later and rewrote it but it still wasn't any good.

    But I'm not hampered by that frustration anymore. I can at least sit down every day and put fingers to keyboard and work through my story idea which isn't perfect or great, but maybe it can be. And that's how I keep going.
     
  3. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Umm... Is this like some kind of writer's block?

    I write together with @T.Trian here, but yesterday when I was alone on the comp, I decided to write the beginning of our WIP. Somehow I knew exactly what to include there, what the reader should know at the beginning, so writing it was easy. Don't get me wrong, it's unrevised crap, a draft of dratfs, but 'cause I've learned so much about writing effectively, I knew the building blocks with which to create a piece of writing I can be reasonably happy with. I know I've done something right.

    So to me educating myself like I'd educate myself on maths or a foreign language has helped me to deal with blocks, frustration, etc.

    I want to tell a story, but I can't just tell it, I need to know how to tell it, and when I've got the tools, it's so much easier to make that piece of writing happen.
     
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  4. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Exactly. It's no different from learning scales on the guitar, studying harmony, how to make arrangements, researching different genres and all the other instruments in your band just so you can write the best songs possible. Oh, and then there are the hours upon hours dedicated to wood-shedding so your chops are up to par so you can actually play and perform the music you write. If you suck as a player, if you don't understand your genre, harmony, nuances, or any instruments and their capabilities, you simply can't produce good music. Even Kurt Cobain, the Beatles, and other such legendary musicians NOT known for technical proficiency had a solid handle on music, what makes it tick.

    It's the exact same thing with writing fiction; you have to know your craft, understand your genre, the various nuances etc. as well as having the technical proficiency to tell the story you want to tell. When I get stuck, more often than not it's because some element on my skillset is lacking.
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I'm sort of the same way, OP. I'm stuck in what seems like an eternal loop of fear and regret. Let me break it down for you.

    I feel regret for not starting anything, fear that I'll be in my 80s sitting in a nursing home hating myself for not doing what I really wanted to do. So I then make various story layouts (meaning the proper manuscript formatting, title and all that stuff, where all I have to do is write the story itself.)

    But then I get nervous. I panic at the idea of writing more than one first draft, I panic, my OCDness skyrockets like a volcano erupting. So I leave it alone. Not bad, right? They're there, not hurting anything, etc. Kind of nice knowing that if I'm ready for them, all I have to do is start writing them.

    So I type out a few scenes in the various stories I have. All crap, seemingly no direction whatsoever. That's when I loathe my stories, I wonder why I even thought this was a good idea. I don't think anyone would want to read them. I get overwhelmed and...I delete them. Throw them in the recycle bin so I don't have to face my anxiety.

    Repeat Step #1. Take it from me, the whole damned thing is just anxiety. Anxiety with bits of our own little OCDness at war with our desire to write something. There is something holding the creativity back.

    Now, for me at least, I can spot a few reasons why I stumble a lot:

    + I don't know where my characters are going. I just have them do things, but I don't have a specific direction.

    + I don't know how to write good mystery novels. I don't know how to make it so the readers won't figure out who killed the shmuck five pages in and are cursing the detectives for spending hundreds of pages solving a case a toddler could figure out.

    + For sci-fi, well, I'm not that well-versed in the space exploration/battle genre. It also doesn't help that I hadn't sat down and delved deep into the lore of the galaxy my characters explore. That's not including the basic science behind space travel.

    + For my fantasy? Same deal. While it is arguably the easiest to write as you can literally make up shit and handwave the rest to 'magic' and be done with it; I haven't really delved into the lore of my fantasy, the different races, etc. In fact, I'm kind of lazy about it. Expanding on the lore of both my sci-fi and fantasy, to me, is a lot of work. It's pure, utter laziness on my part. If I don't know even half of how my own setting works, how can I write about it? My characters may not know what xyz is, but I have to know so they can learn about it at some point in the story.

    So in my case, my own anxiety and laziness are killing my creativity. As they say, the first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one and figuring out what exactly the problem is.
     
  6. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    And this is what I need to dictate myself to follow.
     
  7. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree. A certain perspective over one's work is helpful. But it is not entirely simply a "block" -- you know? It is like a vague maliciousness that stays in your mind, suggesting that the world must end for you to accomplish what you aim for. It is not so much related specifically to a certain piece. It is a strange thing. Truly, I think it is the conception that a problem exists; it is similar to pessimism (which I subscribe to); however, it is simply a perspective regarding the one reality of the subjective experience.

    In the end, I think brute force is needed. And I agree with what you've said as well, or at least moved towards: Do something and then you have something (ie. "I've done something right").
     
  8. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Link the Writer "So in my case, my own anxiety and laziness are killing my creativity. As they say, the first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one and figuring out what exactly the problem is."

    Yes, these combine to be problematic. I think this is why it is seemingly an unfixable. One is lazy -- this reciprocates daily. Anxiety spawns from it. Anxiety creates more inactivity (unmoving). The spin of a circle. It is like when one asks oneself: "What is the nature of my existence, the limitations of my subjectivity, or the meaning of my being?" These questions spawn conflict within the self in such an indescribable way, in which (since answers are only a fabrication of the subjective mind), one feels and seems to have no way out. I think this is what the clash is now. I agree with this idea of pushing for a product, to make regardless. I personally think a need to embrace a sort of middle-class art is good to. (I mean this, in the sense that one need not feel that things need to be so supreme, so perfect.)
     
  9. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I struggle with this too. I learned to view such creative blocks as basically exercise in self-indulgence. It is us obsessing over ourselves, rather than out manuscript. It's ok to spend time with oneself, but obsessing about self is a self-perpetuating situation. The more you do it, the less self-confident you'll be and the less time you'll spend on the manuscript.

    As hard as it sounds, the solution is to get over ourselves. Nobody can move my butt, or a finger, except for me. Unless I'm ill and objectively don't have either physical or mental stamina to create, ok, I'm not gonna beat myself up about it. Maybe if I have OCD I'll get some help so I can better see wood for the trees. Every problem has a solution.

    Everything else? Self-discipline is the key. And being kind to yourself. Like any good boss, see what your worker (you) is capable of. Don't push him too hard, but reward him if he's just worked his butt off. Give him time off, to pursue other activities. Be understanding and ask him how you can help him. Make a routine and stick to it. 400 words a day minimum, six days a week, or whatever works for you, and then endeavour every day to reach it. But don't ruminate if you don't. It's easy writing in the fever of inspiration, but majority of writer's work is done with a touch of self-coercion. It's the nature of any job.
     
  10. Empty Bird
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    Empty Bird Member

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    You shouldn't be worried!

    I feel the same way constantly. But a lot of the time, what I've discovered is this terror to commit is some weird form of procrastination.

    "But procrastination is putting work off!!"

    Yeah, I completely agree. But through us curling up inside ourselves, clasping our hands over our heads and shivering in terror at the thought of our own inability to place our words down properly on the paper, all we'er doing is putting it off. I assure you, you can put the words down. It's just that first leap- that first jump. Brave the fear and just jump into your writing.

    No one ever said it has to be perfect. No one ever said you have to get it right straight away. No one ever said you can make no mistakes. The thing is, you will make mistakes, you won't get it right straight away, it's probably not going to be perfect. But anxiety and fear leads us nowhere.

    Picture a rocking chair. When you worry about the things that could happen, couldn't happen, might happen, won't happen should happen may happen whatifthishappensIcan'tbear-

    -all you're doing is rocking on your chair. Going nowhere.

    Swallow that fear. Admit it's there, and then move on. Mindless terror is unproductive. Being unproductive leads to even more anxiety.

    It's scay, I know. But you won't know what you've missed out on unless you try! Trust me! It's worth every scraped knee, every bruised ego, just keep going and never give up! It's out there waiting for you, you just need to put in the effort to reach it!
     
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  11. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    @jazzabel and @Empty Bird:

    Thank you for the advice, and I agree. I think it is rather strange for me, because I have not always been so. But the creature is required to be a changing.

    It is also, with these situations, the difficulty to adequately understand what even the problem is. Vagueness seems to be at the core of the mind, and it is hard to analyze.

    Anyway, I have digressed. I appreciate all comments, thoughts, and I lower my eyes at the fact that I made this post, but I think it will be therapeutic. Today, I will force.
     
  12. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    As well:

    "I learned to view such creative blocks as basically exercise in self-indulgence. It is us obsessing over ourselves..."

    @jazzabel I think you have hit it directly. It is this bull fear that I shouldn't make something that is not perfect, that is garbage, or unoteworthy. It is arrogance. I will attempt to detach myself from the grapple.

    Might I also say: I wish you all well with your works and any setbacks.
     
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  13. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you can't write, don't do it. What's the big deal? I just can't fathom why someone would stress over something like writing, which is infamous for being a poor career choice.

    If you do not think you have anything to offer to your word processor, to yourself, or to others, just let it go.
     
  14. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would say first that it is a poor career choice, but it is good that I care nothing for the economic return of writing. I would agree to let it go; but what I am trying to articulate is the inability to exist without creating, yet the contradictory state of feeling unable to create, due to a mind that is bombarded. "Letting it go," in this circumstance, leads to insanity.
     
  15. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    How many free hours a day do you have, on average?
     
  16. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am a student -- too many.
     
  17. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Idol hands make the devil's work."

    If you can focus on a career, hobbies, sports, a relationship(s), and whatever else, and the urge to write still presses you, then I would say write, but when you have a lot of time on your hands, it's easy to confuse boredom with genuine inspiration or artistic desire.
     
  18. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, idle hands make the devil's work. I can assure you, though, that I have not simply mistaken my boredom. Boredom is rarely a mode in my existence. As well, I'd chance ask you to define "genuine inspiration" or "artistic desire." While I am thankful for you to put me in my place for making this post, I think you have made great leaps.
     
  19. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    This isn't (completely) directed at you. It's a blanket statement for everyone who "struggles" to write. There's absolutely no reason to be "afraid."

    Do yourself a favor, make a goal, (~100k novel for example), and finish it in four months. Your perspective now and then will be very different.

    I've been 20 before, I understand mental masturbation!
     
  20. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I get you. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Appreciate it.
     
  21. DromedaryLights
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    DromedaryLights Active Member

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    Hey man, I rather like what you wrote. Keep at it.

    A friend of mine once said this: Writing is 10% inspiration and 90% staring at something blank while hating yourself. I mean, it's a joke, but it's funny because it reads as true. Anyway, we've all been there. Hell, I'm still there. I cope with it by parodying it in my "Progress Journal."

    Are you hip to Charlie Kaufman? He's written two excellent films that are pretty much entirely about people staring at blank things while hating themselves: Adaptation, and Synecdoche, New York. It's almost like he took his fear of creating and somehow transformed that into a creative force. They're self-indulgent flicks to be sure, but also highly original, completely hilarious, and very well respected. Maybe they'll inspire you; they certainly inspired me.

    Also, for what it's worth, I find it a hell of a lot easier to write now than I did when I was 20.
     
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  22. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is a good joke. Thank you for the comment, too. I will make sure that I watch those two films; I can imagine that self-indulgent art is likely to be the most profound, as it relies on a deep connection with the self.
     

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