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A cure for writers trashing themselves? (1 Viewer)

Megan Pearson

Senior Member
So, the premise of a previous thread was to ask whether writers who trash themselves do so out of false modesty or true belief. The discussion that ensued got me to thinking, what can we do to help writers get past that?

Here’s part of the problem as I see it. We don’t think in text. We think in images or conceptual constructs that are symbolized by the words we speak. As writers, we further abstract those concepts by encoding them in symbols and then organize those symbols into sentence constructs, or, as text. This makes text at least three times removed from the original concept we first conceived. (Speech, letters & words, then grammatical rules.) That’s a lot of encoding/decoding to go through to communicate our concepts!

Often, I think we return to those conceptual constructs and perhaps re-envision a better way we could have said what we have said. My hunch is it’s in this return where we re-envision a better way we could have said something, that that's where our guilt as true belief kicks in. So perhaps the source of false modesty might lie outside of this chain of creation and in more of desire for social affirmation. Either way, both seem psychological, albeit one is attuned inwardly and the other, outwardly. Surely both have some root in insecurity.

So the question is, are there ways you have helped other writers gain more confidence in themselves? If you have suffered from this, what has helped you in overcoming it? Or, if this is you right now, what helps you to keep on writing?
 

JBF

Staff member
Board Moderator
So, the premise of a previous thread was to ask whether writers who trash themselves do so out of false modesty or true belief. The discussion that ensued got me to thinking, what can we do to help writers get past that?

I can't speak for anybody else, but the best thing you can do for an aspiring writer is provide honest criticism. That being said, criticism is a multifaceted affair - SP&G is a first step, but if you leave it there you've done them a terrible disservice. To a new writer (or an old one with lacking confidence) pointing out the missed commas or flawed autocorrections doesn't give them any better grasp of why their story works (or not). Useful in its own way? Sure. But what most of of them are really wondering - what keeps them awake at night - is whether a reader could see themselves buying this if they found it at the bookstore.

So ask them questions about the world and the characters and how they put together their plot. This does two things; it convinces them that somebody took the time to actually look through what they had to offer as opposed to doing what their word-processing software likely already did, and it prompts them to think deeper about the how and why of their writing process.

Deep roots make strong writers. Once they've got confidence in their writing they'll second-guess themselves less and be able to focus more on the work itself.


Here’s part of the problem as I see it. We don’t think in text. We think in images or conceptual constructs that are symbolized by the words we speak. As writers, we further abstract those concepts by encoding them in symbols and then organize those symbols into sentence constructs, or, as text. This makes text at least three times removed from the original concept we first conceived. (Speech, letters & words, then grammatical rules.) That’s a lot of encoding/decoding to go through to communicate our concepts!

Arguably correct. One could also posit that the finished product is the writer's vision filtered through character and voice. Whether this is anywhere near the concept is anybody's guess.


Often, I think we return to those conceptual constructs and perhaps re-envision a better way we could have said what we have said. My hunch is it’s in this return where we re-envision a better way we could have said something, that that's where our guilt as true belief kicks in. So perhaps the source of false modesty might lie outside of this chain of creation and in more of desire for social affirmation. Either way, both seem psychological, albeit one is attuned inwardly and the other, outwardly. Surely both have some root in insecurity.

Some of the best feedback I ever got came from people well outside what I originally considered my target audience. The stuff they told me was invaluable because it came from a quarter I had never considered, much less figured into the process. Knowing that I got through to somebody who probably wouldn't have picked it up at the bookstore is a feeling hard to put in words. It's also worthwhile in the sense that you don't make major changes as an immediate result, but you do have another lens that can show blind spots and oversights.

So the question is, are there ways you have helped other writers gain more confidence in themselves? If you have suffered from this, what has helped you in overcoming it? Or, if this is you right now, what helps you to keep on writing?

A little of all the foregoing; I found people who would be honest with me, not cruelly but likewise not so concerned with niceties that they'd pull punches; I figured out that the story I was trying to tell went far deeper into the world and characters than I'd initially anticipated, so much so that I abandoned the original plot-driven idea to instead follow my characters; I heard from people in circumstances completely different from my own who said they knew the people I wrote about, for good or bad.

I'm still at it now because, independent of how much I play up the trash-writer bit, I think the story itself has enough merit to carry.
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
So, the premise of a previous thread was to ask whether writers who trash themselves do so out of false modesty or true belief. The discussion that ensued got me to thinking, what can we do to help writers get past that?

So the question is, are there ways you have helped other writers gain more confidence in themselves? If you have suffered from this, what has helped you in overcoming it? Or, if this is you right now, what helps you to keep on writing?
Honestly, I think it's a social disease created by other writers as well as the nature of artists in general. We tend to be perfectionist. So if all the T's aren't cross and the I's dotted, it's garbage. But, the truth about writing is no writer is perfect and we all have errors in our work, from the best of us to the brand new writer creating for the very first time.

The goal is perfecting your voice and expression to the point where your "picture" is clear to the viewers. If you are laboring in the effort to get the approval or praise from other writers, you're going to screw yourself over, imo. I don't write to impress writers. I write to speak what's in my heart. That's how I stay out of the meat grinder that can erode a writer's self-confidence.

And just to add, being confidence doesn't mean you see yourself as perfect. I want all of the feedback I can get! The better I'm capable of expressing myself, the better writer I'll become.
 

Steve_Rivers

Senior Member
I think some of the problem lies in the lack of understanding by newer writers of what writing entails (or getting good at any talent for that matter), and partly the fact that most people give up on things they think they aren't good at.
The average joe keeps searching for something they are good at throughout their life, or at least something that they enjoy. If they're searching for hobbies to enjoy, they probably have a happier life because they aren't trying to "be the best" at it. Those with ambitious thoughts behind it think it is just a matter of searching until you find something you are instantly good at - which will nearly always lead to disappointment because natural talent is almost a myth. So they move from one thing to the next with continual disappointment following them.

Most people are socially brainwashed into thinking you are born with talent - because that is what we all say to each other when we see someone who is really good at something. "Must be in their genes." It totally isn't. Not unless you're a basketball player or something else that needs a physical difference in your body. Even then, most basketball players who qualify due to their height aren't natural talents at the game, they have to learn it and earn it like everyone else.

All the science and experience from those who are regarded as the pinnacles of their craft all tend to say the same thing. "It's not talent, it's down to determination." Studies have proven that if multiple people put in 10,000 hours into a hobby or profession, the ones that started out as seemingly "natural talents" often were no better than others after they all put in the 10,000 hours of practice that was needed to "git gud."
There's a good John Cleese lecture about how creativity isn't something you're born with or have naturally. It is about getting into a state of mind, of playing, of putting yourself in a place where you feel creative and then see what happens. It is much the same.

The fallacy with writing is worse than most hobbies or professions... because everyone can speak and write, so they believe no effort is required. "Oh, I can talk, I can write words, I could just as easily write a novel tomorrow if I wanted." And it doesn't work like that. No 10,000 hours have been invested in anything other than the most basic form of communication.

So, when they come to writing their grand novel with their greatest idea, they then get annoyed when the images and thoughts in their head don't come out first time through their fingers. Every writer has that problem to begin with, no matter who you are. It doesn't mean you're a bad writer.

There was one person I know on that "other" writingforums forum who just last week said "I'm giving up, I posted my work and people pointed out I'm not using the proper syntax. I'm useless, my work is useless, and I need remedial English classes." When that was utter rubbish. She took ONE aspect of her work and used it to judge everything. Her imagery, descriptions, ideas, and storytelling prowess were good. It was not a talent issue, but because that's how people are hard-wired to think, due to society, that's what she thought. In reality, it was a mechanical issue, a flaw in an engine that needed to be studied, learned about, and corrected. If you have determination and forget talent, then you go ahead and practice what is needed to correct the issue and make yourself a better writer. She didn't do that. Can you imagine if Stephen King had that attitude? He would've given up at the first novel and we wouldn't know his name. That's the difference in a nutshell. Obviously, it doesn't mean everyone can be a King, Tolkien, Rowling or such, but it is far more the defining factor than the tiny slither of individual talent or creativity. Stephen King did not give up when he found a problem with his writing - he worked on his game and got better.

If you trash your own writing, then you need to retrain your brain because you're looking at the issue in the wrong way. It shouldn't be "My work is crap, I'm useless, I'm talentless, I need to beat myself up," because that isn't how you correct the problem, that's just how you destroy yourself. The goal is to make yourself feel better, which means the goal is to be a better writer. So it should be clinical and practical - "Okay, I do not like this. I need to study this to see why I don't like it, learn and practice, and sort the issue until I do like it."

I try my hardest to think that way, and not about being a good or bad writer. It is about me being better than I was last year, and next year better, feeling progress being made. Seeing that progress in your work being made, whether trying to do it professionally or as a hobby, is what can stave off depressive thoughts.
 
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Lawless

Senior Member
The only thing I can think of is to provide them with a success experience. Either tell them yourself you like their work and what you specifically liked about it, or point out other people who have told you they liked it, or make the others say it themselves. Often enough, people don't bother to talk about things they enjoy.

Only after you've made them realize their work is actually being appreciated, you can begin to give them "honest criticism" without destroying the little traces of confidence they still have.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
For me, it's making people realise anyone can be a competent writer, even a great writer. Anyone, with no exceptions. What they then do with what they've achieved is down to their imagination. I hate labouring a point (no, honestly, I do) but the idea of suggesting to a beginner writer that story is the only thing to worry about is to lead them on a journey of years and years of misery, defeat and resignation. 'But it's the story that matters. My story is good but nobody is reading it.' Learn to play the piano before you begin writing your opus.

People are going to disagree but that's because they've already learned to play the piano.
 

Cephus

Senior Member
For me, it's making people realise anyone can be a competent writer, even a great writer. Anyone, with no exceptions. What they then do with what they've achieved is down to their imagination. I hate labouring a point (no, honestly, I do) but the idea of suggesting to a beginner writer that story is the only thing to worry about is to lead them on a journey of years and years of misery, defeat and resignation. 'But it's the story that matters. My story is good but nobody is reading it.' Learn to play the piano before you begin writing your opus.

People are going to disagree but that's because they've already learned to play the piano.
That's true to a certain degree, but the simple reality is, not anyone can do it, any more than anyone can play basketball in the NBA. Like most skills, you can cultivate your abilities if you work hard enough and are willing to get the job done. Most people, however, won't do that. Writing is one of the hardest things you can ever try to do well. Not everyone can, or will, do that. It is doing no one any good to pretend that anyone who is willing to sit down and scribble out a few words here and there can become the next Hemingway, yet I see that kind of thing all the time.

We have to be willing to acknowledge that this isn't something absolutely anyone can do, yet I see a lot of amateurs who want to pretend that if they blow enough smoke up everyone else's skirt, then someone will do it in return and that's all it ought to take. It isn't. Writing is hard. Not everyone is capable and even of the ones that might be capable, most people aren't willing to put in the hard work to get there. We need to stop mindlessly telling anyone and everyone that they can do it. Maybe they can't. It's something you have to be willing to work for and have the internal fortitude to drive yourself there on your own. A lot of writing forums just turn into a mutual masturbation society and I don't think that's really helping. Give people the tools they need and see what they can make of themselves. Most will fail. It's the ones that prove they have what it takes that really matter.
 

LCLee

Financial Supporter
I think most beginning writers don't know what they don't know.
It reminds me when I was young getting into music; I noticed the bass player had fewer strings and played less than the rest. What I didn't know was the bass player kept the count as much as the drummer and drove the turnaround and the bridge.
If we can expose a lot of the new ones, to the hard reality of knowing their craft, in a critique form. Or we could let it lie dormant in a self-published cage. Of course if we the community who have dedicated ourselves pamper them, then we become enablers to their failure.
 

JBF

Staff member
Board Moderator
Something occurred to me earlier today.

New-ish writers tend to get two kinds of feedback, I think. The first is the over-the-top bubbly reviews (friends or parents, probably) that they eventually disregard. They know they need work, so getting comments and ratings that are straight four-oh gets dismissed as fluff. New writers are usually crappy writers, though with a few exceptions they aren't stupid. Feedback that comes across as falsely positive usually doesn't have the intended effect - or really any effect at all.

The second is silence. Now silence can mean a couple of things. It could mean whoever they sent their work to hasn't had time to read it, or they didn't finish it, or they did finish it and thought the intended tragedy worked great for laughs. Or maybe the people who promised to get back to them with comments and suggestions are lying swine who secretly despise their feeble attempts at storytelling. Could be a lot of things, really.

Thing is, most rookies hit a point where they know beyond all doubt that they need to improve. So they ask for help. And frequently, they get radio silence.

So a funny thing happens. That internal voice that's been their biggest cheerleader suddenly has to pull a double shift as chief motivator and critic. And, since a fair number of people are poor judges of their own effort, they slide too hard to the you-suck side of the scale.

Because clearly, people would be getting back to them if they were any damn good. Which they aren't.

The sick irony being that a good portion of would-be writers who think they're garbage actually aren't all that bad. They work hard on improving. They usually do. But even as they develop the ability to tell a story with a believable setting, fleshed-out characters, and strong plots and the (thoughtful) and positive feedback comes in, some part of the hindbrain hangs on to the absolute certainty that they weren't good enough then, aren't good enough now, and never will be.

***

I dunno. It's late. I'm tired. That's probably all gibberish, anyway.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
Something occurred to me earlier today.

New-ish writers tend to get two kinds of feedback, I think. The first is the over-the-top bubbly reviews (friends or parents, probably) that they eventually disregard. They know they need work, so getting comments and ratings that are straight four-oh gets dismissed as fluff. New writers are usually crappy writers, though with a few exceptions they aren't stupid. Feedback that comes across as falsely positive usually doesn't have the intended effect - or really any effect at all.

The second is silence. Now silence can mean a couple of things. It could mean whoever they sent their work to hasn't had time to read it, or they didn't finish it, or they did finish it and thought the intended tragedy worked great for laughs. Or maybe the people who promised to get back to them with comments and suggestions are lying swine who secretly despise their feeble attempts at storytelling. Could be a lot of things, really.

Thing is, most rookies hit a point where they know beyond all doubt that they need to improve. So they ask for help. And frequently, they get radio silence.

So a funny thing happens. That internal voice that's been their biggest cheerleader suddenly has to pull a double shift as chief motivator and critic. And, since a fair number of people are poor judges of their own effort, they slide too hard to the you-suck side of the scale.

Because clearly, people would be getting back to them if they were any damn good. Which they aren't.

The sick irony being that a good portion of would-be writers who think they're garbage actually aren't all that bad. They work hard on improving. They usually do. But even as they develop the ability to tell a story with a believable setting, fleshed-out characters, and strong plots and the (thoughtful) and positive feedback comes in, some part of the hindbrain hangs on to the absolute certainty that they weren't good enough then, aren't good enough now, and never will be.

***

I dunno. It's late. I'm tired. That's probably all gibberish, anyway.
I think this is a good summary of the progression that goes with learning how to do something. You do it, and if it doesn't match up with what's in your head, you redo it until it's a little closer. But if the mismatch between what is in someone's head and the output isn't there - if everything seems okay - progression stops. I see this elsewhere, not just writing, and I'm not sure how one could impart that benchmark of standards, other than get an editor or some fixer in to bring it all up to snuff. It's interesting though - in my experience, often these creators have excellent ideas.
 
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KeganThompson

Senior Member
I can't speak for anybody else, but the best thing you can do for an aspiring writer is provide honest criticism. That being said, criticism is a multifaceted affair - SP&G is a first step, but if you leave it there you've done them a terrible disservice. To a new writer (or an old one with lacking confidence) pointing out the missed commas or flawed autocorrections doesn't give them any better grasp of why their story works (or not). Useful in its own way? Sure. But what most of of them are really wondering - what keeps them awake at night - is whether a reader could see themselves buying this if they found it at the bookstore.
That's why I posted the craft vs story thread because I was thinking, ok I need to work on craft but do I at least have come compelling ideas to even be worth my time trying to conceive and put down? which one is more important to work on first? I have been taking the time to think about story structure and plot development so I don't make the mistake of losing direction. I still think I'm a pantser but I need to learn some plotting and story structure to help me complete a book.
So ask them questions about the world and the characters and how they put together their plot. This does two things; it convinces them that somebody took the time to actually look through what they had to offer as opposed to doing what their word-processing software likely already did, and it prompts them to think deeper about the how and why of their writing process.

Deep roots make strong writers. Once they've got confidence in their writing they'll second-guess themselves less and be able to focus more on the work itself.
I agree, I just want to know if my idea(s) have anything unique and if how I am plotting them in my mind is working. Of course at the end of day, it's how well you execute that idea that matters. But I gotta start somewhere. I do want to start on a new project soon but I dont have the confidence to do that right now.
Arguably correct. One could also posit that the finished product is the writer's vision filtered through character and voice. Whether this is anywhere near the concept is anybody's guess.




Some of the best feedback I ever got came from people well outside what I originally considered my target audience. The stuff they told me was invaluable because it came from a quarter I had never considered, much less figured into the process. Knowing that I got through to somebody who probably wouldn't have picked it up at the bookstore is a feeling hard to put in words. It's also worthwhile in the sense that you don't make major changes as an immediate result, but you do have another lens that can show blind spots and oversights.



A little of all the foregoing; I found people who would be honest with me, not cruelly but likewise not so concerned with niceties that they'd pull punches; I figured out that the story I was trying to tell went far deeper into the world and characters than I'd initially anticipated, so much so that I abandoned the original plot-driven idea to instead follow my characters; I heard from people in circumstances completely different from my own who said they knew the people I wrote about, for good or bad.
Character driven stories are the way to go ;)
I'm still at it now because, independent of how much I play up the trash-writer bit, I think the story itself has enough merit to carry.
I saw through your trash-writer bit ;) because if you really felt that way completely, you wouldn't even bother trying. Same here
 
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Cephus

Senior Member
Something occurred to me earlier today.

New-ish writers tend to get two kinds of feedback, I think. The first is the over-the-top bubbly reviews (friends or parents, probably) that they eventually disregard. They know they need work, so getting comments and ratings that are straight four-oh gets dismissed as fluff. New writers are usually crappy writers, though with a few exceptions they aren't stupid. Feedback that comes across as falsely positive usually doesn't have the intended effect - or really any effect at all.

The second is silence. Now silence can mean a couple of things. It could mean whoever they sent their work to hasn't had time to read it, or they didn't finish it, or they did finish it and thought the intended tragedy worked great for laughs. Or maybe the people who promised to get back to them with comments and suggestions are lying swine who secretly despise their feeble attempts at storytelling. Could be a lot of things, really.

Except there's a third type, the type that really matters, that most amateur writers really don't want to hear. It's the feedback that's honest and exposes their weaknesses. A lot of amateurs aren't looking for valid criticism, they're looking for validation. They want to be told how good they are before they've earned it. Especially in the modern world, there are a lot of people out there who think success and skill should be automatic because mommy and daddy told them they were special.

They're not.

Thing is, most rookies hit a point where they know beyond all doubt that they need to improve. So they ask for help. And frequently, they get radio silence.

It's because they tend to respond negatively to the feedback that they need. Over on Reddit, there is a guy who is writing nothing but fetish crap. It's awful, everyone tells him it's awful but he keeps spamming the subreddits with it because he has no other ideas. He doesn't care. I think there's something severely wrong with this guy. The reason most writing doesn't get read is because so much of it is uniformly terrible, written by people who are hardly trying and, even if people do try to give suggestions, they can't be wrong because... fee-fees. People who legitimately want to improve will have done a lot of the footwork on their own, yet we see people who have never so much as done a Google search on how to write better.

It's a problem.

So a funny thing happens. That internal voice that's been their biggest cheerleader suddenly has to pull a double shift as chief motivator and critic. And, since a fair number of people are poor judges of their own effort, they slide too hard to the you-suck side of the scale.

Because clearly, people would be getting back to them if they were any damn good. Which they aren't.

And that's how it should be. There are far too many people out there expecting the external world to force them to work. As I keep saying, writing is hard. 100% of the motivation comes from within. You have to write because you want to write. You have to get better because you want to get better. I don't see a lot of that in amateurs lately. Some of the biggest names in writing did so before the age of the Internet, when they couldn't hop online and throw out whatever crap they scribbled down this morning, in front of a bunch of know-nothings. That's really the problem with most writing forums and the like. It's the blind leading the blind. It's people who don't know any better telling people who don't know any better that they know better. Most of the advice is terrible, even if you get it, because most people who respond are doing it out of their own imaginations. Writing isn't a group activity. It isn't a team sport. It's toiling in isolation for long periods of time to produce something that you hope will be good and never really knowing until you put it out there.

Here's another thing. Nobody owes anything for free. Nobody. Ever. Throwing your work out there with a demand that someone read it and tell you what's wrong, that's not a fair expectation, yet we see that online a lot, the expectation that you somehow deserve to make use of other people's time, simply because you want it. It's not just writing either. Tons of people, almost always young people, use forums and the like as their own personal Google. They don't want to do any work to find out on their own so they just use people because nobody really cares that there are actual, living people with real lives on the other end of the line. It's just a resource for your own personal use.

And they're wrong.
 

KeganThompson

Senior Member
So, the premise of a previous thread was to ask whether writers who trash themselves do so out of false modesty or true belief. The discussion that ensued got me to thinking, what can we do to help writers get past that?

Here’s part of the problem as I see it. We don’t think in text. We think in images or conceptual constructs that are symbolized by the words we speak. As writers, we further abstract those concepts by encoding them in symbols and then organize those symbols into sentence constructs, or, as text. This makes text at least three times removed from the original concept we first conceived. (Speech, letters & words, then grammatical rules.) That’s a lot of encoding/decoding to go through to communicate our concepts!
I know, that is crazy right? and really hard!
That's why I get get so frustrated because I cant put words down to express my ideas accurately yet. It's something as simple as using a word or two that is similar to what I want but doesn't quite fit in the overall picture i'm trying to make. And thats just a word! They're whole sentences/ paragraphs that aren't written well, or express what I need it to. So I gotta find a way to deal with that, which means constant feedback and rewriting sentences over and over again is crucial for me.

Often, I think we return to those conceptual constructs and perhaps re-envision a better way we could have said what we have said. My hunch is it’s in this return where we re-envision a better way we could have said something, that that's where our guilt as true belief kicks in. So perhaps the source of false modesty might lie outside of this chain of creation and in more of desire for social affirmation. Either way, both seem psychological, albeit one is attuned inwardly and the other, outwardly. Surely both have some root in insecurity.

So the question is, are there ways you have helped other writers gain more confidence in themselves? If you have suffered from this, what has helped you in overcoming it? Or, if this is you right now, what helps you to keep on writing?
I am suffering from low confidence (or a when I do start to build confidence it goes back down) What helps me keep writing is knowing despite my flaws, lack of knowledge and experience, it isn't something I am stuck with. If I am willing to keep learning and keep writing then I WILL get better. Now, eventually good enough to be traditionally published with a marketable story is a whole other conversation lol
 

JBF

Staff member
Board Moderator
Except there's a third type, the type that really matters, that most amateur writers really don't want to hear. It's the feedback that's honest and exposes their weaknesses. A lot of amateurs aren't looking for valid criticism, they're looking for validation. They want to be told how good they are before they've earned it. Especially in the modern world, there are a lot of people out there who think success and skill should be automatic because mommy and daddy told them they were special.

They're not.



It's because they tend to respond negatively to the feedback that they need. Over on Reddit, there is a guy who is writing nothing but fetish crap. It's awful, everyone tells him it's awful but he keeps spamming the subreddits with it because he has no other ideas. He doesn't care. I think there's something severely wrong with this guy.

Yup. I think we've all had run-ins with the type before.

And that's how it should be. There are far too many people out there expecting the external world to force them to work.

There are. There are also a lot of promising writers who might become pretty good writers with a few pointers here and there. If they make the effort of joining a group/forum/circle/whatever I'd generally front them some credit and try to work past the annoying rookie tendencies. After a while you can reassess whether or not it's worth the trouble.

If you know something of use, it's worth passing on. What the recipient does with this information is out of your hands.

I don't see a lot of that in amateurs lately.

Yes and no. Some are resistant to advice. Some are impervious. Still, I'd argue it would be a mistake to dismiss one entirely because they're still figuring things out. It's not much different than being a teenager - you do dumb things, and you either learn and improve or you don't. Work with former and try to mitigate or contain the damage caused by the latter.

Some of the biggest names in writing did so before the age of the Internet, when they couldn't hop online and throw out whatever crap they scribbled down this morning, in front of a bunch of know-nothings.

Can't fault somebody for the year they were born. A lot of great writers rode horses to get around. Some died of polio. A fair number were dead before typewriters came around. There was arguably as much bad writing then as now, though less survives and the distribution was admittedly smaller. People are social animals. If they have an interest, they find the like-minded and talk about it.

That's really the problem with most writing forums and the like. It's the blind leading the blind. It's people who don't know any better telling people who don't know any better that they know better. Most of the advice is terrible, even if you get it, because most people who respond are doing it out of their own imaginations. Writing isn't a group activity. It isn't a team sport. It's toiling in isolation for long periods of time to produce something that you hope will be good and never really knowing until you put it out there.

I agree with most of this, with an exception for the blind leading the blind. You don't need to be a firefighter to diagnose something as being on fire.

And yes, I imagine most people do join a writing forum to have their stuff read. It's a little like going to the gym in that regard; you see a problem and you move to address it. Not engaging with the forum will get you the same results as standing by watching other people working out. If you apply yourself you'll be better off than you began, regardless whether you're a world champion.

Here's another thing. Nobody owes anything for free. Nobody. Ever. Throwing your work out there with a demand that someone read it and tell you what's wrong, that's not a fair expectation, yet we see that online a lot, the expectation that you somehow deserve to make use of other people's time, simply because you want it. It's not just writing either. Tons of people, almost always young people, use forums and the like as their own personal Google. They don't want to do any work to find out on their own so they just use people because nobody really cares that there are actual, living people with real lives on the other end of the line. It's just a resource for your own personal use.

And they're wrong.

All part of the cycle of growing as an...anything, really. You come in with expectations and delusion. You meet obstacles. You learn. Then you either climb or quit. There's a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth in the process, and a lot of grit and determination, too.

Some will figure it out. Some won't. I don't believe anything is owed.

I do believe that if you offer to try and help somebody they rate your best effort, and that if somebody's only on a writing board to throw darts and laugh at the dumb noobs...the problem may not lie entirely with the dumb noobs.
 

KeganThompson

Senior Member
Except there's a third type, the type that really matters, that most amateur writers really don't want to hear. It's the feedback that's honest and exposes their weaknesses. A lot of amateurs aren't looking for valid criticism, they're looking for validation. They want to be told how good they are before they've earned it. Especially in the modern world, there are a lot of people out there who think success and skill should be automatic because mommy and daddy told them they were special.

They're not.
😭 😆 you aint wrong...
A lot of amateurs aren't looking for valid criticism, they're looking for validation. I'd be a liar if I said I didn't want both. I want good criticism but I also want a compliment or two...cause, who doesn't? At least enough to know my strengths and that I actually have any.
It's because they tend to respond negatively to the feedback that they need. Over on Reddit, there is a guy who is writing nothing but fetish crap. It's awful, everyone tells him it's awful but he keeps spamming the subreddits with it because he has no other ideas. He doesn't care. I think there's something severely wrong with this guy. The reason most writing doesn't get read is because so much of it is uniformly terrible, written by people who are hardly trying and, even if people do try to give suggestions, they can't be wrong because... fee-fees. People who legitimately want to improve will have done a lot of the footwork on their own, yet we see people who have never so much as done a Google search on how to write better.

It's a problem.

I heard reddit writing section is the dumpster of the writing community (Not all of course but you have a good example there lol) I've never been on reddit so I can't say for myself though. What I've heard doesn't motivate me to join though
As a new writer, I think I need to take the time to do more of my research. I have been leaning on here for help maybe a little too much recently. Going back to some articles and videos to help me learn the basics
And that's how it should be. There are far too many people out there expecting the external world to force them to work. As I keep saying, writing is hard. 100% of the motivation comes from within. You have to write because you want to write. You have to get better because you want to get better. I don't see a lot of that in amateurs lately. Some of the biggest names in writing did so before the age of the Internet, when they couldn't hop online and throw out whatever crap they scribbled down this morning, in front of a bunch of know-nothings. That's really the problem with most writing forums and the like. It's the blind leading the blind. It's people who don't know any better telling people who don't know any better that they know better. Most of the advice is terrible, even if you get it, because most people who respond are doing it out of their own imaginations. Writing isn't a group activity. It isn't a team sport. It's toiling in isolation for long periods of time to produce something that you hope will be good and never really knowing until you put it out there.
I agree, My S/O couldn't give me feedback cause he knew nothing about writing. I wanted to get better but he didn't have the ability to tell me things I needed to hear. I planned to join a forum/ writing group eventually anyway but I got to the point where I was like "okay now's the time to do that, and wallow in my bad writing"
Here's another thing. Nobody owes anything for free. Nobody. Ever. Throwing your work out there with a demand that someone read it and tell you what's wrong, that's not a fair expectation, yet we see that online a lot, the expectation that you somehow deserve to make use of other people's time, simply because you want it. It's not just writing either. Tons of people, almost always young people, use forums and the like as their own personal Google.
I understand what you are saying and people do need to take the time to do research on their own instead of expecting everyone to tell everything. I think people like the interaction and feed back from others (the people who genuinely want feed back good or bad) I know I do. Instead of reading bunch of stuff online, it's nice to hear others perception and personal experiences. You cant ask an article a question like that or a Youtuber-well you can but don't expect a reply or a constant reply- but like you said, using others a person google search and expecting them to do things for you is not right. I know when I get a comment about something I wrote, that person commenting didn't owe me a read let alone a comment. when a comment is a well explained point of criticism and is helpful Im even more grateful and appreciate the time someone took to even bother with little ol' me. I try to return the favor by reading others stories. It also helps me learn more about my own writing too.

They don't want to do any work to find out on their own so they just use people because nobody really cares that there are actual, living people with real lives on the other end of the line. It's just a resource for your own personal use.

And they're wrong.
People need to be more considerate for sure. Give others feedback not just automatically expect feed back from others when you don't been want to bother yourself .
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Personally, I think my style, description, and disability create uncertainty in me (and in others on how to best critique what I write). When they read my work I've noticed some conflicting comments. I am willing to learn. Recently I found a book that guides a writer to describe movement that is important for describing a scene. I'm thinking of purchasing two books on description for creative writers and one on movement. I will definitely be journaling a lot.

Another thing. The one time I got published it was with the help of a person of the forum who beta read the whole thing and gave comments. That allowed me to have perfect English. But nowadays, I rely on a program called medialexie which is a program that is based on research for dyslexia and dysgraphia used and developed in France. It was funded by their government.

The best version of the software would probably make a big difference, but I need to wait for that to happen. I'd rather express myself creatively. My birthday and Christmas is when I ask for expensive things. That software would cost me a lot. (it has a sentence predictor)

I think I don't blame people who critique me. They all have different personalities and approaches. Being honest is indeed important. Any contribution is good. But honesty will without a doubt keep you from trying bad approaches (repetition of the same mistakes). As of this typing I have several useless grammar books collecting dust. All because I am told that my paragraphs need more structure. So that they have a topic sentence and flow coherently. I was told to learn poetry. But poetry is difficult. I did buy a book that tells me how to stick to a topic sentence. It's in the post office. Sometimes people have gone out of their way to critique me. I appreciate that since Asperger's Spectrum disorder makes me frustrated at what I can't currently do.

My goals could be validation and relaxation. That would be therapy. I also have a hyper focus when it comes to try to learn about writing. I do try. I critique a lot to receive feedback. Some of which has been very good. I know when I would be missing the mark when they don't hold back.

A message sent concerning learning is more important that all the good comments you will probably get. It builds motivation.

Motivation isn't a problem for me though. It's having confidence in one's abilities. One way of course is to try to learn what I haven't done correctly. When someone gives a critique you need to display that you are actually trying.

Developing a thick skin is important for me. I invest money in the hobby since some parts of writing don't come naturally to me. I have to work harder than others. But then again my goal is only to write a short story. Unless I see an opportunity in the future for an English degree. My family wouldn't agree to it right now. There are too many problems right now regarding health.

I left these comments, so people understand how I think and what I am doing to try to change my writing.

Every year previous to this one on my birthday I would buy grammar books. I bought Stephen King's recommendation for grammar books (in on writing which is a writing guide and a memoir). Those books are worth something now since these are out of print. That is its only redeeming quality. But it takes a lot of time to read it. So much I don't know how I should approach reading those books.
 

Turnbull

Senior Member
Uh...well, the only ways I've learned to overcome (or "learned") is either by having a story so potent in my head that I have to write it, whether I will or nil, or thinking I'm better than I am. Overconfidence is key~!
 
Focusing on improvement instead of comparison.

It's useful to observe "where you are" in one sense--what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what you need to focus on improving. But it's poisonous to observe "where you are" in another sense--whether you are 'better' or 'worse' than specific other writers or the general writing community. What good does it do to think "I'm better than them," or, "I'm not half so good as him/her"? All you need to know is where and how to improve. You can be aware, for example, that your plot structure needs work, without having to measure your badness or goodness on a curve.

(Your own perception of your place in the "rack-and-stack" of writers is likely to be flawed anyways. Besides, ideally, surpassing others shouldn't be the goal. In a community like this, for example, the goal is for everyone to improve -- and if everyone improves at a similar rate, well, mathematically, no one's "rank" is going to go up. We'll all be making great stuff, and that's all that matters. Not to mention that everyone fills a different literary niche.)

When I'm focusing on the story, or the poem, or the flash piece, and making that thing as good as at can be, I'm not thinking about "how bad I am." Best case scenario, I'm not thinking about myself at all. I'm drawn outside of myself in the act of creation. It's about the story. Is it good?
 

Sir-KP

Senior Member
This kind of thing goes right back at the person themselves and the reason of the self-trashing problem. Is it because of the toilet-paper mentality or something else?

Some people do this kind of stuff to fish attention and comfort for ego boost. While some other people who do this sometimes can be very cocky behind; they just like the attention.

As for those with toilet-paper mentality (me included to a certain extent :p ), which are very likely to come from rough, unsupportive surroundings, the only cure is to fully realize that we are not perfect and there's always someone worse and better out there. That's just a fact in this life. This won't change you around instantly, but at least will help you climb out of that pit easier.
 
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