View Full Version : Looking for some advice.
September 28th, 2002, 06:46 AM
Hi, I am pretty new to these forums, and in all intensive purposes, new to writing. I have read many articles on writing, what it takes, how hard it is to get published, etc. This has not detracted me. Some better background:
I am 25 years old with no college. I started reading books when I was in the third grade, and my parents would take me and my sister to the library every week to get a pile of more books. We both did, and still read voraciously. In the 8th grade I started reading Fantasy(and later, Sci-Fi), Piers Anthony actually. This got me into the Genre quickly and fully. In the 9th grade I dreamt of being a writer like Piers Anthony (I was young, ok), and wrote quite a bit. Mostly just a few chapters into a couple novels. I always dropped it after awhile for some reason. Since then I have written quite a few poems, a couple short stories, and outlined a few novels (started on them, but again, never finished).
I Joined the Marines to be a journalist when I graduated High School, but tore up my knee and got a medical discharge. After that I quit writing for a couple years. I did not stop reading or dreaming.
A few years back I started writing again, but only briefly. I wrote two short stories, and had an entire novel planned out. I was dissapointed with the quality, and my pride was injured by the pure drek that I put out. I quit writing for almost two years. (Still read and dreamed though). Now I am 25, and want to write again. I plan on attending college next fall, probably as an English major. (some issues need to be dealt with before, hence the delay)
My greatest enemy is my pride. How do I get around such a thing that brings me to fear writing at all. I have this pride, though I do not know why, and take it extremely rough when I write something of less than stellar quality. (like this post for example)
I have my doubts though. I of course want to aim for the stars. Be one of the best, that sort of thing. It seems every writer or author I hear about has written since they were like 8 years old, quite a bit longer than I have. In fact, If I discount my failures, everything I have written so far, I have wrote nothing. Is there any writers or authors that have such a late start as I? Is it possible to get around my pride and lack of solid achievement and reach a goal of someday becomming a full time Science Fiction/Fantasy writer? Is there any Advice for a late possible bloomer?
I love the written word, and just reading a book makes me want to write one. It makes me want it more than anything I have ever wanted, yet it is not greater than my fears and doubts. I cannot stand the thought of pursuing a different field though, and I have given it much thought, so disuading me from writing is probably not an option, writing bad or not.
September 28th, 2002, 09:00 AM
i can only give u advice from my perspective. im 20 now, and was writing and not finishing things as you are since i was about ten. i have finished my first draft of my first completed novel about a month ago. now what i have to do is edit it.
i had that "pride" thing you talked about too, but you have to get over it and just write. its advice that you get from most writers out there: just write. just sit down and right, dont correct spelling etc, and write. keep writing, moving the story forward every day or so, and dont worry about the quality. in fat, you have to ignore it until second draft, where you start to iron out all the creases, cut and add things, develop your characters more.
also, when you start writing on a frequent basis and continuing to do so, well, ive found that your writing starts to improve.
the start of my novel is atrocious (it was written when i was in a stage of going over and over the first couple of chapters), the characters are speaking so cliched, and theres terrible descriptive pieces etc, but in the later portions of the book, as ive began to just write, letting it flow, ive found that my dialogue is a lot more natural and my storytelling much more tighter. i dont know if this happens to every writer, but the "let the writing flow" method seems to extract some good writing from me.
i wouldn't expect to be the next god of sf/f, since i doubt the current gods expected as such. just write, and write for yourself, that what a writer does. the publishing side of it is only your hope that other ppl will see what you're writing and enjoy it.
when i say "let the writing flow" i sound like some sort of pseudo-Yoda i know, but i suppose its a good way of putting it. sit down, and write. that being said tho, in writing my own novel, i did have some loose outlining divided into what would happen in each chapter, so some semblance of structure does help, giving you an idea of where your story's going.
i have been rambling, im sorry. hope i gave you some advice, tho my credentials are somewhat dubious, since i haven't even published afore-mentioned novel yet.
September 28th, 2002, 09:07 AM
Iím afraid that the truth of the matter is that most published authors still have their day job. There just isnít enough money. Consider how long it takes to write a book, a year, two years. The standard advance for a first sell is going to be around $10,000 -(maybe up to $15,000 these days), that being from a large publishing house of course. A smaller publishing house will offer a much lower advance. So, please, donít give up your dream, but be realistic.
Second of all, what do you mean - late start? If you have a desire for writing - then write. It is really that simple. There are writers who have no desire to be published. They may write 20 books and never once submit it. Late or early, it doesnít matter. There are plenty of writers who started writing when an adult.
And as far as being a perfectionist, well, I can relate. But, you will never get anything written if you donít accept that the first draft is just that, a first draft. You cannot expect perfection the first time out. Most successful authors edit their books at least 2 times. I know that some authors just write and that first draft is it. But from one perfectionist to another, donít even try it, unless of course you enjoy beating your head against a wall. Pick a method that works for you and stick with it. For me, for my novel, I have recently adopted a new method and I am progressing much faster than previously. I write something between an outline and a rough draft. This way I donít get bogged down with getting each sentence just right, when Iíll probably cut the sentence later anyway. Once I finish the entire book, I intend to go back through and flesh it out. I will already know what needs foreshadowing, what needs emphasis, what needs to be cut out entirely, etc.. Finally I intend to do one final edit.
Hereís a suggestion, find the book titled ďHow to Grow a NovelĒ by Sol Stein and read it. There was some great information in that book. I also learned a lot from a subscription to Writerís Digest. And when you do finish that book, be careful. There are a lot of vultures out there who prey on amateur writers.
And I will have to disagree with one thing, you don't write for yourself, write for the reader. Always keep the reader in mind. It doesn't matter if the only person who ever reads it is your mother. If you keep the reader in mind, you will write a better book.
September 28th, 2002, 09:37 AM
Thanks for the replies, and the good advice.
I need to start writing, one thing I have been considering is writing little reviews on the books I read. That and short stories. I have searched the internet for little "activities" or assignments that a writer can do, sort of to practice his/her art. Unfortunately I have not found any. I see that this site has some(though not quite what I have in mind), though I would be reluctant to actually post any of them.
I realize that most published authors don't make it to the full time level of writing. I don't know enough to make a great theory, but I have a feeling it is because they have other things that are more important to them, like a family. I don't. In fact, I am never planning on getting married, having kids, and probably not even dating again. (have not dated in 5 years, I don't miss it) I also realize that writing does not pay much, and that it takes some time to write a book. I do not actually plan to be full time till I am 45+. Still have a long ways to go.
I think the pride and the reluctance to write stemming from it comes from my doubts. I have been told by several people that writing takes talent, that if you don't have it, you never will (of course they told me I didn't have any, they supposedly did). I suppose my reluctance to write comes from a fear of realizing that they are right. I will prove them wrong though and write.
Asraloth: I would say my goal of being the best isn't that I want to be one of the gods, (Heinlien, Asimov, H.G Wells, etc) but that I just want to be one of the best. The best includes quite a bit of them. Mostly that I want to be the best that I can be, and strive to do better than that.
Good advice both of you, and thanks, anybody else that wants to add something is welcome. I would also be grateful if anybody knew of any online writers workshop of some sort out there. Anything to jumpstart my creativity after a couple years of inactivity.
September 28th, 2002, 12:37 PM
And, through writing, you'll improve. If you enjoy doing it, it's unimportant what we tell you here --you'll keep writing anyway! ;)
Don't expect your first stories to be masterpieces, but DO write them down. Nothing you write is a waste --you learn something from it. Myself, I've writen many stories, but only 1/3 of them I think are worthile; the other were --truth be told-- practise.
But there are two ways to learn how to write--
(1) Write ONE story again and again, improving it as you go.
(2) Write many stories, improving as you go.
I, unconsiously, chose the 2nd method, but there's no right or wrong in these kind of thing. Do it your way!
Oh, and another thing -- You'll always write a better story than the one you're writing now.
September 28th, 2002, 03:28 PM
Originally posted by Bardos
Oh, and another thing -- You'll always write a better story than the one you're writing now.
Isn't that the truth! :)
I agree with what's been said: keep writing. Desire, ( think) is tied up with talent when it comes to writing. 1/2 the battle is having that desire and sticking to it. Story, at any rate, will end up being the most important part of your craft--and you can work at story even when your craft skills aren't up to speed. (And, if you practice story, your craft will catch up).
Pride *is* difficult to get over. I think it's particularly difficult because the best way to improve (for me, anyhow) is to subject your work to critique. It takes a thick skin to critique your own work--and wisdom. Time helps us learn how to be critical without going overboard.
Conversing with others about writing also helps--particularly as regards our own work (we, after all, write differently). I minored in creative writing. Before taking classes, my writing stunk (although the stories were fun). After one year of workshopping and critique, I learned where my bigger faults were and dealt with them.
Of course, there are those amazing wonders who can write wonderfully without ever sharing their work. I deeply respect them but I don't think most of us are like that. :)
Anyhow, try to ease up on yourself and just enjoy it. Expect the process to take some time (a few years maybe)--I'm sure you'll see vast improvement. :)
September 28th, 2002, 03:37 PM
So let me get this straight. You signed up for a career with the Marines at a young age, blew out your knee, and have given up on romance (dating, marriage etc.) for the rest of your life, and you're having trouble finding something to write about?
One exercise many authors use is journalling. Spend a few minutes every day just typing out your thoughts - where you are in life, where you want to go, why sheep don't shrink when it rains, etc.
There's no harm in wanting to be great and there's no reason you can't get there - except for not writing.
Personally I'd say about 80% of what I churn out is crap. A lot of authors are their own worst critics. If you're concerned with the comments of others, I would suggest sharing your work with other asipiring writers. The criticisms they give (to most of my experience) are constructive and helpful - allowing you to identify problems in your writing and make the necessary corrections. Anyone who gives a general comment like - "this sucks, you have no talent" is making a subjective statement without backing it up. Therefore it's not even worth worrying about.
Finally, what's most important is that you worry about the story that you are telling, and not the status it will elevate you to - in my opinion anyway.
September 28th, 2002, 04:29 PM
Is there any Advice for a late possible bloomer?
Huh? You is young kid :D
As a young sprog I thought of writing and that was as far as it got. Life, family and kids sort of ate time.
Then a couple of years ago I decided to give it a try. I may not be the best writer, it took me three years of trying before I even let anyone see the efforts. AND I cringe each time I see the documents lying on my machine.
I am trying hard though, and have just sold my first short story...(still doubting the magazine's sanity)
It is hard and you get hit up side the head all the time, but just to have someone here say yes I like that bit, makes it worth all the that's rubbish that is thrown at you!!!
September 29th, 2002, 01:19 AM
I'm 20, started reading fantasy only about 5 years ago. Unsuccesfully tried my hand at writing about 4 years ago. Decided to write a novel last year, and turned into lengthy book 1 of a fantasy trilogy.
Now I'm writing short stories. More chance of making a name for myself, and I'm getting good feedback so far. I'm trying to find good magazines and contests to send them to. I write two short stories (sci-fi or fantasy) each month, with little break in between, and read as often as I can.
Read and write and pay attention to advice. Then be persistent and confident.
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