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  1. isaac223

    isaac223 Active Member

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    Do I Really Want To Write?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by isaac223, Feb 2, 2020.

    I mean, I certainly think I do. On some level, that has to mean something, right? But I wouldn't be the first person to spend their life thinking they wanted to write only to at some point realize "I don't" or "I can't". For the longest time, I could never see myself doing anything but writing. In spite of that, it's amazing how many excuses I make up specifically not to -- "this isn't good enough" and so I'm discouraged, or "I'm tired" and so I'll do it sometime else or whatever -- and media would have you believe this is proof that you don't want to write that book.

    I don't really do any of the things other writers do. I don't -- or can't -- base my work in some kind of reality I know. I don't think about people as deeply as other writers seem to, and I don't think about my locales as deeply as other writers seem to. I don't research the daily life, I can't find inspiration in the off-kilter or the bizarre. Often times for long stretches of "I will write" my journal is just a blank, white reminder that I'm either not good enough or don't care enough.

    I don't have the "process" other writers do, and I don't have the habits. I don't dedicate all the same time doing all the same things other writers talk about doing. And a lot of times it feels like I'm on a totally different mental wavelength, and at the end of the day it feels like it comes back and bites me in the ass when I finally sit down to write.

    I rarely finish anything. It's never up to my standard; never good enough. Sometimes I'll force myself to finish something, but the ending will come short and fast. Maybe once in a blue moon I'll write a first paragraph that's really got me invested in what I'm writing and keep on going at a breakneck pace and I'll look back and everything after it was just a messy rush to the conclusion. I never have the heart to revise. It just falls into my abyss of untouched projects or I'll delete it.

    I can't lose myself in a scene. It's become more like a meticulous process than an art sometimes. I don't fall away into some mind-stage of the picture I'm trying to paint, I don't emote, resonate or feel with my characters, I can't see the things they see from their perspective. It feels like I'm writing scientifically, almost, or reasonably -- logistically. "Of course they would act like this" or "I need them to act like this".

    When I sit down and think about all of these things as symptoms, I wonder if I really don't want to write like I think I do. I always think about writing, talk about writing, but I never write. I'm always discouraged. I always find some way to be discouraged. I always find some way to hate what I write.

    Will I ever know if I really want to write? Is it possible to know, really?
     
  2. TheOtherPromise

    TheOtherPromise Member

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    I've run into the same problem a lot. For instance, I wanted to be an artist (still kind of do) but I would go months without drawing anything because all I could think of when I wanted to draw was how bad everything I drew looked. And it just killed my motivation.

    My writing is pretty similar, in that I'll sit down and write and then just hate everything I write. The writing is just bland and stilted. I've got blurry images in my mind but I just don't know how to write them down to give readers the information they need.

    And don't get me started on everything a writer needs to do or should be able to do. For instance I don't read very often and one of the pieces of advice I keep seeing is, if you don't read you can't write. Talk about disheartening.

    But the truth is, planning out my story and writing it down (even if the quality is garbage tier) is something I'm having fun doing. And that's the important thing.

    Don't think about the end product. Don't think about how other people write. Don't think about how much better writers everyone else is. Ask yourself some simply questions.

    Do you enjoy the journey? Do you enjoy writing? Does the good outweigh the bad? Are you willing to put in the time and effort that everyone else does/has to become the best writer possible?

    And no it's never possible to know for sure. But that's fine, writing is a journey, not an ending.

    Oh and by the way, I'm just over hear talking to myself. If this helps you in anyway great, but I think I kind of lost the plot somewhere in this post.
     
  3. Xoic

    Xoic Member

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    Let's hear the other side of the equation—what do you like about writing? What makes you keep wanting to do it?
     
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  4. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    Take a break if you aren't sure you want to write. You'll either feel the need to write again one day in the future or you won't.
     
    EFMingo likes this.
  5. N.Scott

    N.Scott Member

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    Set a smaller goal, a minimum quota for the day, like five minutes per day;
    Writing is not just putting words on paper, planning and thinking about the story is a huge part, so don't beat yourself up just because there aren't enough words to prove your work;
    Sometimes it kinda is a scientifically process like you said, you try to throw some scenes in the story. If it fits, great, if it doesn't, just find something else;
     
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  6. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    Nothing is stopping you from writing. It doesn't sound like you'll ever be successful at it, based on what you said, but if you enjoy it, go for it. Just have realistic expectations.
     
  7. Xoic

    Xoic Member

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    Exactly! What does it actually mean to 'write every day'?! Am I writing when I daydream about my characters, what they're like, how they interact? When I'm planning the story world, deciding what happens when and what the results will be? I probably spend more time, at least in the early stages, doing this than actually typing, and then I do a lot of writing about the characters and story ideas before I can actually start on a first draft—writing about the writing before I can start the writing.
     
  8. shiba0000

    shiba0000 Member

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    Do it for fun, not for clout. Don't compare your writing volume to others in an attempt to create a daily quota. It'll turn your hobby into a chore.

    I'm better with art than prose, so most of my writing is unstructured lore notes to supplement concept art. Everyone has their own process.
     
  9. More

    More Member

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    I have just started reading an old text book on writing. It suggests you will need to practise for at least eight years, that is writing thousands of words every day. You will also need to spend all your time reading , when your not writing. Before you can hope to be any good . I don't know if that is true , and you might be an exception. I do believe unless writing becomes your overriding obsession, you will struggle to achieve anything of quality .
     
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  10. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    You need more time probably. If you keep doing it for long enough, I promise you you'll write something good. That's just how it works. Take as much time as you need on one thing to make it good, and once you have something that you like, everything will be easier.
     
  11. Xoic

    Xoic Member

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    I'll tell you what—for many years I wrote just for fun, and I sure as hell didn't worry about all the rules and good composition and character development and all that! If I tried to do all that I would have given up pretty quick. I wrote crappy little stories that made me and my friends laugh, and year after year they got a little better until I reached a point where I thought I might want to try to learn how to do it 'for real'. But even though I was just goofing around and having fun, I learned so much.
     
  12. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Amateur Human Contributor

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    I literally started writing fanfiction in middle school because I didnt like how James Patterson ended one of his books. I'd imagined my own ending and the way i thought the characters SHOULD have interacted with one another. It was fun for me to do this, and it was fun for me to share it with other fans of the book as well.
    At school, my friends and I would pass back and forth a notebook in class where one of us would start writing a story, then pass it to another person, and they'd add on to it and pass it back (Google Collab before Google Collab). We ended up writing a funny alien story.
    I know I had a weird way of thinking and I told myself I wasnt like the "other" kids and didnt think like the "other" kids and didnt care about the "other" kids.
    But I'd found people that I could relate to and share my weirdness with (hence passing back and forth the notebook).
    I wrote because I enjoyed it.

    You must have started because of something about it that you enjoyed. You found us on Writing Forum because you wanted a community of writers.

    I think you're too caught up in comparing yourself to others. You dont have to think like "us" or be like "us" to be a writer. I think that thinking about all of the things you arent, takes the joy out of it.

    Do you have other hobbies/outlets?
    I ask because, how do you handle it? I used to hate when my coaches would compare me to my teammates or other athletes (had a coach that said he'd punish me if I let another athlete beat me...I lost, and he entered me in an event that I knew nothing about and I felt even worse and humiliated when I came in dead last). I used to hate when my teammates would hype me up and say "you can out run her!" and "You can beat. Look at her sizing you up like she's going to beat you" and "why dont you ever talk trash about other people? is it because you're scared you'll lose? You just dont seem confident enough!"

    YOU are the only one you need to think about in regards to your craft. If you must compare yourself to something, compare yourself to the person you were yesterday. Compare your writing to what you wrote yesterday.

    -end sermon-





    (I feel winded and I didnt even say anything!)
     
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  13. N.Scott

    N.Scott Member

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    Yes, This! Sometimes we get caught up with other's ability and we forget just how much we ourselves have grown and learned over time. I think all of us can benefit from looking back once a while because writing can get lonely and frustrated, and seeing our improvement really helps us to deal with those tricky feelings.
     
  14. isaac223

    isaac223 Active Member

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    I'll be responding to everyone in the thread, but this post went on for QUITE a while so I'll just leave this one response on its own while I respond to everyone.

    Well, it's mostly my passion for a particular genre. It's a shill I say a lot, but the Golden Age of Detective Fiction doesn't have the name for no good reason -- the novels of the time certainly represent what I believe is the ideal school of mystery writing for anyone looking for a pure focus on the mystery. That isn't to say that they're necessarily the "best" or superior in any fashion, just that other and more modern sorts of crime and mystery fiction have an issue of diluting the deductive focus of mysteries with reliance on overtly scientific forensic investigations, character drama sub-plots and a taste for more the macabre and thrilling than for the puzzling and deliberate. Police procedurals, police thrillers, psychological thrillers, crime noir, mystery thrillers and all are very valid and delightful genres of writing, but I think the fact that they've become the de-facto interpretation of the mystery genre is a bit of a disservice to mystery novels when, really, I'm one of the people who prefer to draw a bold, thick line between thrillers and mysteries as a classification as it is.

    I love, love, love the Golden Age whodunits, and modern novels styled after them (see: Sophie Hannah's The New Hercule Poirot Mysteries, James Scott Byrnside's Rowan Manory series). The reason why I say theirs is the purest focus on the mystery is because it is basically correct. For the most part, even as the novels attempted to a more grounded and realistic look at criminology, psychological, criminal methods and history of crime, they still seem to intentionally minimize aspects of the plot that aren't explicitly driving the mystery forward in some method. More on, they're written to invite the reader to sleuth along; like a game between writer and audience, the author will play fair with the reader and offer all information needed to deduce not only the killer (a mystery novel that only focuses on naming a killer is a rarity!) but also their mysterious machinations and methods before the sleuth, but inversely the audience will be respected with a satisfying solution following a particular, small set of rules as the author cleverly misdirects the reader's attention away from and hides the clues in plain sight. It's like a 300 page riddle, testing reading comprehension, lateral thinking, deductive prowess etc. etc. (until you're so genre savvy you get the solution just from knowing the genre so well).

    The bottom line is the extra layer of engagement is something I deeply appreciate, and I find the methods through which a mystery novelist employs psychology even when it doesn't appear in the novel itself to lead their literary sleuths by a carrot on a string deeply fascinating in engaging with the novel, and equally fun when you're on the side of the deceiver. On one hand, I really just want to write something that I love, and this is something I love. After all, I discovered the genre in all its glory not so much more than 2 years ago, and I've already sat down to nearly a full hundred of just this sort of book. On the other hand, I want to write something that, when I look at it, would make me think "Would Dorothy L. Sayers approve of this? Would Christianna Brand pat me on the head and tell me she's proud of me for writing this? Would Agatha Christie herself grace my writing?". On my third hand, I want to help repopularize the genre in English-speaking countries (Japan is still all about it) because I want to see more authors write more of this kind of book that I would love to read. I want to help bolster this neotraditionalist movement of mystery writing because, on the fourth hand, I'm a little bitter about the confounding of Golden Age-styled whodunits with what's modernly interpreted as "the cozy mystery" and would love to reignite the respect people used to have for the genre in the 1930's-1950's.

    So if I had to sum it all up into one basic, ultimate point? I write because my favorite genre is on life support and I want to put something into it so that more can come out of it. I write what I want to read, and I hope others will start writing more of it too.
     
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  15. Bowie_the_Birb

    Bowie_the_Birb Member

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    Write what you can when you can. But don't force yourself to write, that's no fun. Take some time to just sit down with your writing. If nothing comes out if it, that's ok. You've at least spent time on it. And don't compare your work with that of other people; it's really easy to beat yourself up when one does that.
    This likely isn't your situation, but I'm in grade school and my writing is heavily affected by that. I do a lot of writing during lunch or study hall.
    If you have time you can spend on your writing, then do so, and if you really don't like doing so, then writing might not be for you. But if one doesn't mind the periods of just "blank," they can totally write! Be prepared for periods of little progress, it happens. Don't get mad if you aren't "in the zone" every time you spend time writing. Some days I'm lucky to get a sentence!
    Hope this helps.
    I think you can totally write! Just be patient with yourself. Everyone starts out as a beginner. :)
     
  16. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    I've been doing some similar soul searching lately. Specifically about the marketing burden.

    Pretty much every writing group I'm involved in emphasizes that the job is at least half marketing now.

    So for me it's not 'do I want to write' but I'm confronting the lifestyle question: 'do I want to be a writer.'
     
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  17. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Member

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    You were writing JAMES PATTERSON fanfiction at middle school!?

    God that makes me feel like such a grunt. At that time I was making up satire stories of me and friends in a Back to the Future rip-off called "Back to the Go-Kart." :D
     
    Dogberry's Watch likes this.
  18. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I'm the man and you're the man and he's the man Contributor

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    You're 18? Wait until you hit your 40s. It doesn't get better. Far from it.
     
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  19. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Member

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    Cliche, but if you love a hobby you'll still do the parts you may find less enjoyable. If you keep skipping revision and don't like refining existing projects, then you of course want to write (by definition, even a grocery list counts) but not craft. Those inspiring whodunit novels have been crafted.

    I guess it's semantics at that point, but I think it's an important distinction.
     
  20. Vaughan Quincey

    Vaughan Quincey New Member

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    Go for it. Perhaps it is on life support because no one bothered to update what needs to be updated. Another option is to take the spice of another genre, mix your cooking with it, and see how it tastes.

    I come from the Marlowe/Spade crowd. I love shadows falling on my chinese food and wisecracks. I don't think your idols wrote it all, but it's all about your book, not theirs. You could easily seduce a reader like me if a new, fresh element makes me rethink my own expectations. You could inspire others, and your genre could experience a renaissance. Your doubts ask 'Why?', when the real question is 'Why not?'

    Aspiring to become some other writer won't work in any era, and this seems to apply twice for the case. Inhabiting a world that does not exist, their morals won't work nowadays. Neither would Spade's.

    About the characters not resonating, spend more time with them, and with people you know. I do steal from real people. I wasn't fond of a character until I met someone that shared quite a few of my character's skills. I learned both about the skills and the kind of person I needed for the character. I still don't like neither the real person nor the character, but I picked up enough bricks to build what I needed (and if I failed, I still got the memories.)

    When all fails start from scratch, nevermind you've got a novel already. Start another, and another, and another...

    I spent last december and a great deal of january writing 100 pages of genre that got stalled (wasn't my genre). Instead of drowning on self doubt and stop writing, I'm right now pushing short stories , and considering my next step, which is to resume my work on another stalled 100 pages from years ago.
    Not all writers start and finish flawlessly. Sometimes you drop something, then begin something else, then pick up some other thing later... And yes, you finish your projects eventually. Perhaps you finish them because you left them to start new things. A bit like with relationships, you remain friends, sometimes with benefits.

    I have felt like you a lot throughout the years. If giving up is not an option, then don't. Chill, breathe and spend a week or two not writing, but living. Feed your hunger.
     
  21. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I was reminded of a writer who was asked this question. She answered, "I hate to write, but I love to have written."

    It's the feeling of accomplishment you have when the work is finished that makes up for the tedium of the process. If you have that feeling, all is well. If not, then maybe you should re-evaluate your writing.
     

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