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July 23rd, 2006, 05:06 PM
"Y'all know me. You know how I earn a livin' "

Sorry had to do that.

Anyway, I have no confidence when I write. I can never get further than a page. I write a few sentences and I am disheartened at what I see.

Any advice?

July 23rd, 2006, 05:35 PM
Hi Quint, welcome to sffworld.

My advice would be this - just take 10 minutes, or however long you want, and write. Don't stop in this time to ponder what you've written, don't edit, just write. Doesn't matter what it's about, just choose a subject and write all you can for a set length of time.

Hopefully once your time is up, you'll find that in amongst the stuff that you need to edit, there is also material that is good, and this is in turn will build your confidence in yourself and your writing.

Good luck.

Dragon Child
July 23rd, 2006, 11:03 PM
Yeah, I have a similar problem... I can write a good page of stuff, and then be so completely dissatisfied with it that I don't want to continue next time.

Seeing as I still have that problem, I'm sure you can see I'm not in the greatest position to give advice on overcoming it. I can say that on occasion after dwelling on the bit I've written and just playing with some ways to change it up a bit in my head, I've gone back to edit or even sometimes even completely re-write said piece and it turns out just a little better.

That's the best I got, and if you come up with anything better, please, be sure to let me know!

Ozzie U Nolem
July 23rd, 2006, 11:28 PM
"Nothing you write, if you ever hope to be any good, will come out as you first hoped."

My advice is to get over it.
I went through the same thing, here's what i realized:

I was trying to write ten pages ahead of what page i was actually writing, thus stealing my focus and abilities from what i was writing.
-Don't get so excited by what you are writing that your ideas get mangled.

maybe you don't like it because it isn't any good. Honestly.
- When i first started writing i never liked my first few pages and then quit.

I feel that writing is a planned activity. I draw an outline, brainstorm, etc.

Get over the fact that you don't like what you've written and ask yourself WHY and THEN try to rewrite it.

90% of time spent writing is before you even put your pen on the paper...

July 23rd, 2006, 11:45 PM
This is all good advice, I'd like to add one thing. What are you writing...and are you ready for it?

If you think you're going to write the next GRRMartin epic and you've never so much as written a grocery list you need to scale down your ambition and focus on one thing at a time. A lot of the editorial pressure a writer gives himself is in proportion to his expectations of the work in general--if you tell yourself you're writing your opus or the next bestseller you're starting way too big.

Focus on short fiction, create a short story with all the neccessary elements of a story, and tell yourself it does not matter one whiff if anyone in the world sees it but you. You'll be amazed at how freely you can write when you have no expectations beyond merely writing to finish a story.

I also recommend you look into finding an online critiqie group, like critters. They can offer you advice on what you need to do to write a good story.

It's not always easy to keep the editor hat off while you are writing, but you can make it alot easier by lowering the stakes and learning to relax.

July 24th, 2006, 08:23 AM
Great advice so far, and I will put it all into use somehow. I continue to struggle but I am glad I am not the only one.

Ward (or anyone else), are you familiar with The Critters Workshop? I am wary of some online workshops. I had an odd experience with one. I had joined to mostly critique others (not to be sadistic, to learn) and was always fair and careful not to offend anyone. However, it seemed nobody liked hearing the critical part of a critque? After paragraphs of the positive I would tactfully mention a thing or two that may need work and always IMHO. Well, I would receive emails yelling at me "never to critique my work again!" etc. Isn't the point of a workshop to find one's weaknesses and improve on them as well as find your strengths? I guess, what I am asking is, will the writers at critters be harsh when they have to be and brutally honest? I am not looking for a "love-fest" like the well-known writers workshop I was a part of. To me it is a complete waste of time. It may sound heartless but I would want heartless critiques of my work.

PS I am talking short stories here, I would have to be a complete lunatic to try and write novels right off the bat.:D

July 24th, 2006, 10:45 AM
Editor's hat and the Inner Weasel.

The editor's hat is that really useful hat you wear when you are revising your work and massaging it to where you want it to be. The problem is that the editor's hat gets on your head also when you don't want it to -- when you are writing a first draft and trying to censure your brain as little as possible. If you are someone who likes to write according to a very tight outline, then you may need an editor's hat on the first draft to keep you on track, but otherwise, the editor's hat needs to go bye-bye, take a little break and stop critiquing what you write. A first draft doesn't have to be good; it doesn't even have to be coherent -- it just has to be down on paper, possibly with big blank spaces or little notes to yourself: (insert tough guy dialogue here later.)

The Inner Weasel is much more insidious. That's the part of yourself that says you are an awful writer, you're fooling yourself if you think you can write, what you've written is awful crap, and you should just give up right now. The Inner Weasel needs not to be saved for later, but continually booted out the door, relentlessly, because the Inner Weasel is relentless.

First drafts are suppose to be crap. Then you take the crap and like manure, turn it into something stronger. But first you have to have the manure, and you have to give yourself permission to make manure, and you have to tell the editor's hat to wait till later to make it pretty.

One thing that may help -- read a bunch of books that you really don't like and think are awful. It seems to help some writers as inspiration.

July 24th, 2006, 11:19 AM
That's true! Bad books are great inspiration, if that hack can do it than so can you...

Quint, I'm a member of critters and I've never had a single problem with people getting touchy about criticism, just so long as you keep things diplomatic. Give it a shot, its free, they just ask that you average one critique a week. And I have gotten some very perceptive comments from people there on my stories.

July 24th, 2006, 12:49 PM
The Inner Weasel is much more insidious. That's the part of yourself that says you are an awful writer, you're fooling yourself if you think you can write, what you've written is awful crap, and you should just give up right now. The Inner Weasel needs not to be saved for later, but continually booted out the door, relentlessly, because the Inner Weasel is relentless.

KatG; do you have any addresses for Inner Weasel hunters??? As mine has been overfed and won't go through the door now...:(

July 24th, 2006, 04:27 PM
Come on Hol you know you'll never have any peace (or someone to play cards with) if you let the weasel go :)

Quint - just write. It sounds the most stupid, obvious thing to say but just keep writing and it'll become a habit, giving oyu a better chance you'll find something you've written that you do like.