I've been having a problem which I suspect is THE fundamental issue among people who are trying to get into creative writing. I'll have an idea, and the scenes will play out ever so clearly in mind and they'll always seem so crisp and flawless. The moment I try to convey these ideas on to paper the essence of the story is diluted, I often find myself going in to too much detail about things that are of no importance to the overall plot. It's as if I'm trying to impress the reader right from the get-go with unnecessary words and metaphors that show I'm a somewhat knowledgeable person. I realise that my own vanity is hindering my work, and really just draining all the joy from writing. Now this brings me to my question: When you're writing are you doing it entirely for your own sake, or is the 'third party reader' lingering in the back of your mind and criticisizing every sylable you dare write? Also, I forget where I was originally going with this, my attention span is not all that great at 2AM, so I'd like to ask all of you lovely people to share your greatest frustrations in writing. I'm very interested to hear what you all have to say on the subject, as I'm sure there is no shortage of frustrations. Thanks for you time, and I apologise to have made you suffer through my self-indulgent rant.
Posts: 30 | Registered: Dec 2010
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i am a person who generally wants to tell the story so I will write it from start to finish with limited editing. I then edit it into something worth reading. In reality, I write by editing. I have a simple writing style. If I cannot spell it, or am not quite sure of the exact proper usage, I don't use it. I also write for myself with the hope that it will interest others, though lately I am writing for a specific publication and it is not really my writing style, which is a bit more laid back and they want real action adventure. My biggest complaint is that I tend to have my characters "walk" through dangerous situations, not really involved, not really in danger, not really having it on the line. I seem to not want to be ready to kill my characters to tell the story.
Posts: 1008 | Registered: Feb 2006
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My biggest frustration is time. The lack thereof. This affects my writing insofar as I write in my little block in the morning and try to tell as much plot as I can. Like you, I have these ideas and I want to get them out, but storytelling is about spinning yarns, not disseminating information.
In the past I would come up with a great scene and try to write it only to find for my characters to actually get to that scene they had to do all this song and dance first. I would end up frustrated because it would take days to get to my idea and like you said it would end up diluted or even completely different by the time I got there.
This doesn't happen so much anymore. I'm not sure if I'm better at remembering what I wanted to say, or if I don't think so far ahead. Could just be practice and experience.
Regarding your level of detail, I'm sure I and others will say go for it. That's what a first draft is for. You can have your internal editor at the computer with you, but keep him/her in the back seat. You are driving. Keep the edits to a minimum until the 2nd draft when it's the editor's turn to drive and you are simply giving directions.
quote:My biggest frustration is time. The lack thereof.
Hands down my biggest frustration as well. You get into a groove with an hour plus at the keyboard and with a demanding work schedule, small children and wanting to spend quality time with my wife -- this is at a premium.
My first draft is for me. Period. I dump whatever is inside of me down on the paper, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I don't do it in order of the plot, either. If a scene comes to me in full color, that's the scene I write. Then in between the huge bursts of creativity, I write the stuff between the big colorful scenes. Sometimes when I write these big scenes, they can be way too melodramatic, or have any number of other faults, but I just do it anyway. THen when I have basically the whole story down, I rewrite, and edit, and makes things right then.
When I first started writing, I did have to battle my "inner editor" (his name is Wilhelm), but now, I just tell him off and do what I want. I listen to him a little during the second draft, but if he starts getting snippy and really negative I stick him in a closet. I just don't have the time to listen to him. There is too much for me to do.
Which bring me to my biggest frustration (which I will guess is many other people's as well): TIME. Well, I have to rephrase that a bit. It COULD be my greatest frustration, and on some days, I do let it frustrate me. But again. The time I waste complaining about it, or even thinking about it, is time I could be spending writing. I have learned to use every spurt of 15 minutes I have to do something. My son is on the autism spectrum, and I homeschool him. We own a 100 year old house, and it behaves like, well, a hundred year old house. By the time my husband gets home at night, I am ready to drop, and seriously can't imagine sitting down and making my brain work more. BUT.... I do because I have to. I tried not to write for two years. For two years we were inundated with disasters and I told myself, I just can't write right now because there are so many other things that need my attention. Well, really, it didn't work. I NEED to write. So I learned to make it work in my own way. Since the beginning of the year I've been working on learning a process that works for me, and I've had success. And since it is my own personal thing, I don't feel guilt about not doing more because honestly, no two lives, no two people are alike. What works for someone else will not work for me, and what works for me won't work for someone else. I have friends who hear about me working in bursts of 15-30 minutes and they say that I am crazy, there is no way they can do that. I thought so too, but that's just the way my life works right now. If I want to write, that's what have to do, so I do it .
The point of all of this is: Take a good look at yourself and your situation. Then, accept it and work with what you have. Don't keep running into a cement wall, whether it be about time, or plotting vs. pantsing, or your method being different from Stephen King's. If something CAN be changed, do it. If it can't be changed, then accept that and work with what you have. Move forward rather than spinning your tires looking for a better way.
I write for sport (I initially thought "for play" but writing, for me, does take effort and concentration and is often an exercise).
I concur with axeminster that the greatest frustration is finding time to write and, for me, being rested from the stresses of my primary occupation and the seemingly incessant needs of my wife and family--staining decks and pulling weeds and shopping and...). It is for this reason the serious writers' caveat is "Write every day no matter what!"
Most of my life is occupied with serious matters, however.
My writing is for enjoyment. My enjoyment. Yet. Admittedly. It is pleasant to think others may also find enjoyment in my imaginations and turn of words. To date, these "others" have been few; and while I have been my own fiercest critic, I am also my biggest fan.
I write what pleases me and when it pleases me. And then rewite and rewrite. I do cherish the feedback from my fellow Hatrackers and from the few agents and editors who have graciously provided their thoughts (along with their rejections). These latter have been a better school of writing for me than the editors that have accepted my stories and then say nothing constructive about them.
I sometimes wonder if I would enjoy traditional publishing success. Having an agent and publishing houses and all their people expecting me to write and meet deadlines so they have product to sell and earn their income...well, it doesn't seem as appealing to me now that I have read blogs by authors, articles by the SFWA, and others. Since I do not anticipate ever earning a living as a writer, I am open to other options such as epublishing--but fear e-publishing my stories may result in providing the equivalent of coal rather than diamonds. External review, even rejection, helps increase the alchelmic pressure to help the story tranisition from the lesser element to the richer one. Therefore (I'm thinking now like Tevye from The Fiddler on the Roof: "...on the other hand...") these agents and editors and publishers possess the experience to teach me what writing may be enjoyable to others and what novice writing flaws are present in my work. Then again, says Tevye, many of you have identified the same flaws and have additionally suggested refinements and processing to improve my stories.
And finally, I could be writing the conclusion to my newest story rather than rambling to you here. So perhaps part of my problem with "time" is procrastination.
On the other hand...I find writing posts at Hatrack a good warm-up; a cracking of literary knuckles and arching of my narrative back. Don't you?
Respectfully, Dr. Bob
[This message has been edited by History (edited June 18, 2011).]
The story seems so different when I type it out...it plays well in my head, then just lies there when I get it on paper (or screen). The problem is that, in my head, it's not in words and phrases and sentences and dialog and all that stuff...
Of course, my greatest frustration is that no editor is buying what I write...I've turned out some stuff that's better than some of what they've published, but, still, nothing. Write, submit to market, get rejection in mail, repeat for thirty-seven years.
I think as you can see that we all have our frustrations. I have the same one you do at times. I see something in my mind but can't get it right when I put it on paper... or computer screen. At times I have written an opening twenty times trying to get the description just right. Of course the "rules" about not using passive verbs and Showing get in the way at times but the main problem is getting it to be what I see. Practice... like doing scales in piano... and learning can help with that problem.
I also have time problems these days and because of circumstance changes I lost an hour to two hours of writing time. But I also have procrastination problems too. If I didn't play too much or horse around with other activities I would have more time to write. I think I know why I seem to procrastinate more than I used to.
But one of the biggest frustrations, which might be related to the above mentioned problem is being stuck on a plateau for the last three years. I've mentioned it more than once here so some of the people here know it already but I keep learning, trying to incorporate what I learn into my writing and still I don't improve significantly. I did do better so I know I can but then I slipped backwards and can't figure out how to get back to where I was.
I don't always think about these frustrations, if I did I may not procrastinate as much, I can go weeks with just writing and working on learning but they all hit again some time or another.
Plus as you may know.... Venting seems to help a bit at times too.
My biggest frustration is I don't write. I want to. I spend all my time at work and school thinking about writing. But when I finally am in position to do it I just don't. I sit there and hours tick by me. I think it's my ADD, my brain gets tired and just shuts off. I need to work on that.
Posts: 1895 | Registered: Mar 2004
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It's nice to know there others with my disorders.
Time is definitely my first frustration. The world is hellbent on stealing creativity by burying each of us under a mountain of mundainity (is that a word?). I just learned on Friday that my wife is officially too pregnant to keep working with me, that won't increase my time =(
As for the work itself, well I start off by telling myself it will be crap so my internal editor has no ammo. Then ironically, I usually spend the first draft going "Wow, this is the best I've ever written." And at the end, I feed it to my loyal band of hatracks to slay, and then get frustrated by why they don't see the genius! What do you mean its too slow?!?!?!?
Then...sigh and for some unmotivated, unfathomable reason I go back to the file and try again, kicking and screaming to the truth that there is genius choked by my insufficient skill. But the genius is there. At least enough for me.
So time and never feeling like I reached the 'done' stage.
quote:It's as if I'm trying to impress the reader right from the get-go with unnecessary words and metaphors that show I'm a somewhat knowledgeable person. I realise that my own vanity is hindering my work, and really just draining all the joy from writing.
Boy, that sounds familiar. This isn't my biggest frustration anymore, but it sure was for a VERY long time. I started having a lot more fun writing when I decided to pick someone I knew and write a story that they'd enjoy. Targeting a story at someone who already knew me meant I could focus on producing a good read for someone I cared about, and who already thinks I'm a somewhat knowledgeable person.
The risk with this approach is the urge to self-edit, and leave out the parts that Mom wouldn't approve of, or that friends would cringe at, but that's surmountable.
This may not work for everyone, or maybe anyone other than me, but it's cheap to try, and helped me discover a whole new set of frustrations.
[This message has been edited by posulliv (edited June 20, 2011).]