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What Kind of Writer Are You, Anyway?

I’m having a not-so-unique crisis in regards to writing lately that can be broken down into two issues. Not to get all analytical in this, but they look a little something like this: 1. In trying to write every day it’s transforming into almost a chore and 2. I can’t tell if I ought to be writing fiction or if I’m better off in the world of academia.

I think the second one is way easier to look at for me mostly because I’ve struggled with it for years. As students in the public schooling system, we’re taught to write ‘academic’ or ‘professional’ works. In other words: dry, esoteric, dull, lullaby writing. Let me get one thing straight before we go on here, I don’t hate this fact. On the contrary really, I love being able to write about an idea and have someone somewhere thousands of miles away read it and understand. That’s not something to scoff at. In fact, some of my favorite writers are these esoteric types, I’m a philosophy major after all (what that means about me and my future, I don’t want to think about). So with that said, let’s get into the meat of this sucker.

Let’s get deep: I’m terrified of the finite nature of reality. That’s a little bit why writing is so appealing. It is, quite possibly, the most lasting thing humanity has created (hyperbole, but deal with me). As such, the idea of infinity suddenly seems less farfetched. If I put something to the page, a young woman 300 years from now could pick it up and understand me. And could you imagine if that girl connected with what was there? If she, 300 years removed, could look into my soul and connect? That’s goddamn beautiful if you ask me, and you did since you’re reading this (thanks for that again, by the way). But who gives a damn about philosophy in the end? How many lives can I change by writing a paper or a book about being yourself, how the authenticity of man is one of the best routes to fulfillment? Stupid question, honestly, since my hero is Albert Camus. But it’s a question that still bounces around in this head of mine, that still spits in my eye and tries to discourage me. My mind has a habit of doing that.

So this fear makes me want to write fiction. Even Camus did, The Stranger is great and I love it. But as I start trying to write, I look around and see people writing for the novel, not for the ideas. I’m an ideas man, that much I know. So when I write, sure I might do it for the character at first or for the enjoyment, but if I notice something strong, something that could be deeper with some digging, I get distracted. You might have noticed that from how this blog has derailed! But that’s what happens; my writing becomes spacey and filled with thoughts that just pour out. They’re more often than not bad ideas, I feel, but they still spill out. So suddenly my fiction turns into that esoteric stuff, just with less passive voice and a few too many adverbs.

I think a lot of it boils down to my fear of revision. I start, I look, I change, I get discouraged. “How could you be so dumb?” I ask, forgetting that we are all, ultimately, bumbling fools. But I can’t be one, I can’t allow that. And so my progress becomes glacial, crystallizing and hardening until I need a damn ice pick to even get cracking at it. And then it becomes a chore.

I don’t want it to be a chore, but I also don’t want it to just be something I do for fun, because it means so much more to me than just fun. I’m going to end this here though, I don’t want to get too much of this spewed out at once, lest I lose you and my mind. Suffice to say, I’m glad that I’m here again (for a second time, but this time I want to stay longer). I hope there was something moderately coherent in here, or something enjoyable. Maybe one of you did that beautiful thing of connecting at some point. If only we could all connect more often.

Comments

When I write I edit so much it's kind of funny.

I find editing to be a key aspect of the writing process, and I stress this to damn near errboddeh.

My advice to you is to take your time and focus on minimalization; just try to simplify.

A sentence can only be so long. Get your ideas out and move on. A paragraph is a fucking chore, but it simply must be done.

Don't let a clutter of ideas stop you from filling out your chapter. You can organize your thoughts based on the meat of your story. I edit for punctuation and I might end up rewriting or adding damn near anything. I might erase a whole paragraph and rewrite it bit by bit.

You can write anything if your knowledge of grammar and sentence structure is sound. Organize your thoughts and write them cleanly and concisely, no matter how long it takes to get it where you want it.
 
not many people can make their passion pay but everyone can make it a massive part of their life..of course you could be read and published in many countries...dreams do come true...but the bottom line is how do you express your creativity that gives you so much without the world knowing your name....were all painters,poets,writers and musicians..etc deep inside and that is it's greatest reward....
 
There is not a single person who does not like philosophy, but many people will not like teaching and preaching. When knowledge comes as a revelation or experience, however, it has an almost mystical effect. Stories and life experiences are the most powerful vehicles for conveying your ideas. If you want to write a story, though, you'll have to learn how to engage and entertain people.

An interesting thing I learned is that writing is a lot like socializing. A persons abilities and successes tend to be rooted in the competence and confidence. You seem to have a lot of fears and anxieties while not having a clear identity, goal, or method. My best piece of advice would be able to find out what these things are. Once you do you may be able to focus more.
 
Re: writing as chore, I crapped out of NaNo for exactly this reason. My muse doesn't "work" to a "schedule", p'tuh! She comes when she's ready and I better snap to that moment. But I do like to bomb in little thoughts and philosophisings that I've had over the years, though the challenge is making them seamless. I did have one scene where a couple of characters are waiting for the "go" for an invasion and they discuss the pros and cons of optimism. Didn't quite flow so it's just touched on now. Ditto another pair of chars who had this long discussion about whether it is in fact perfectly acceptable to lie, but the scene clearly didn't have anything to do with anything else so was consigned to the ranks of deletia.

I do touch on themes elsewhere: of power, truth, love, fidelity and so on. I think it is great way to make potentially esoteric or sensitive subjects accessible in the sandbox of the novel. Mind you, I spoke to an agent about my WIP in September and she did advise me to not mention "themes" in my synopsis; the rationale being that my WIP should bring them forward naturally.
 
Thank you all for the responses and I apologize for taking so long to reply.

Rhythm: I agree that editing is the most crucial part of writing. What I think I have found is that I am generally a bit too quick to jump into my edits. So I'll finish a draft and instead of letting it exist, I immediately go back in and just destroy whatever I did. This isn't necessarily bad unless in doing so you forget that it was a first draft (which I do because I give no space between finishing and restarting, so it all feels like a single draft). So what I think I need to do is stop hovering so much over my ideas and allowing them breathing space before coming back in and editing. I'm by no means a bad editor, I just haven't allowed myself to become detatched enough from my work to do it well for myself (thus, it feels like a chore).

Escorial: Thanks in general man, you always put a smile on my face :)

Kamino: I don't know if EVERYONE loves philosophy ;). But your point is really good, the best way to learn is when you feel something emotionally stirring in the process.

Charles: I think I just have to figure out how to fit my themes in without losing my characters under all that weight. I'm going to keep trying though, thank you for your insight.
 

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Greyson
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