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choppy
September 3rd, 2004, 03:52 PM
Is it just me or does anyone else ever have one of those days where you just can't keep your feet on the ground? It's not so much that I don't want to be in the real world. I have a pretty good life, so I don't really need to escape from anything. I just have to focus. Otherwise I start drifting off into a fictional world.

One thing that's helped me with my writing lately is realising that I write for more than one reason. Basically I write either (1) to tell a story, or (2) to go on a little mental vacation. There's lots of other sub-reasons and the two categories aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, but that's basically it.

When I'm trying to tell a story, I'm basically building something. It's a project. I want to say something, make a comment, or just entertain someone else. This is the kind of thing that I want to show to other people, and that I'll post up on the web, or submit to a competition or whatever.

On the other hand, when I'm "on vacation" I kind of wander around, see the sights, partake in the local culture, and maybe have an adventure or two. Here I'm a lot more inefficient (as far as what's important for output) because that's not the goal.

Anyway. Back to work. Sorry for the babble. Thoughts?

Expendable
September 3rd, 2004, 09:33 PM
One thing that's helped me with my writing lately is realising that I write for more than one reason. Basically I write either (1) to tell a story, or (2) to go on a little mental vacation. There's lots of other sub-reasons and the two categories aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, but that's basically it.


When we read a book, we all want to go on a mental vacation someplace else. Story's good. Story keeps us interested. But we want color. We want something different. Something strange and wonderful that we can escape to, where we can forget our problems and dance and have fun and excitement before we return to our normal/pretty good lives.

Dawnstorm
September 4th, 2004, 05:38 AM
When I'm trying to tell a story, I'm basically building something. It's a project. I want to say something, make a comment, or just entertain someone else. This is the kind of thing that I want to show to other people, and that I'll post up on the web, or submit to a competition or whatever.

On the other hand, when I'm "on vacation" I kind of wander around, see the sights, partake in the local culture, and maybe have an adventure or too. Here I'm a lot more inefficient (as far as what's important for output) because that's not the goal.

I'm curious about "what's important for output". Can you expand on that? Any chance, we could get a sample of something "efficient" and something "inefficient" to compare? Is the difference one of focus (e.g. story or character vs. setting)?

JRMurdock
September 7th, 2004, 03:34 PM
Choppy, do you write in a journal?

What I do to prepare myself to write (lately) is I write in a journal (a really big word doc) for 15-30 minutes. I don't journal like most people, I free form it. Anything that pops into my head I type as fast as I can. I try to clear my brain of all the 'stuff'. I find that once I'm done with that, I can really concentrate on writing something with substance. My mind isn't cluttered with lampshades, broken wrenches, and tattered curtains. I find myself more focused on the task at hand.

But yes, there are those days when I just want to scrawl and I've done that also. Many of those works are on my web site as I wouldn't push them off on a publisher. :)

choppy
September 7th, 2004, 06:39 PM
From Doawnstorm:

I'm curious about "what's important for output". Can you expand on that? Any chance, we could get a sample of something "efficient" and something "inefficient" to compare? Is the difference one of focus (e.g. story or character vs. setting)?

What I meant by efficiency is efficiency in getting the point across in an entertaining manner.

Granted, this means a lot of different things to different people. Indeed, its easy to argue about what's entertaining and what isn't. And what's necessary information, and what's just an info dump. By no means do I claim to be an expert.

When I'm in "vacation" mode, I'm writing more so that I'll get things straight in my head. I'll dump information about setting, characters - the stagnant stuff that doesn't really move the story along. Also I won't write in a direct manner. If for example the point of a scene is so that the characters will discover that there is a murderer among them, I may not actually even get to that point - having diverted on a tangent. This is a free flow mode. The internal editor is turned off, and whatever pops into my head, ends up on the screen.

This isn't a bad place to be. It generates ideas and forces me as a writer to put some thought into the worlds I create. However, I know that my own personal writing is not as good of a read when I write like this. And I ususally have a pretty good idea of when others are deep in this mode as well. Hence I refer to it as "inefficient." The reader has to slog through a lot of junk to get to the juicy stuff.

In "storytelling" mode I plan things out a little more. Each scene (usually) has a purpose. I try to keep a point in mind as I go. Generally the story is easier to read, and the reader generally gets more out of it.

For Mauss,
I think that journalling is a good idea. I wish I had the time. As it is, I barely have time to write down the fiction. Perhaps I'll give it a try though. Maybe it will help to focus my mind.

Expendable
September 7th, 2004, 09:52 PM
Ok, this sounds what I call, "Get it on paper" mode only yours is a little too undirected, if you're missing points in the story.

Dawnstorm
September 8th, 2004, 12:45 PM
Ah, I see what you mean, now.

I can't write in vacation mode. If I try, I usually keep re-writing the "first sentence" because the way my thoughts go don't match the linearity of grammar (sorry, that sounds awkward, what I mean is, I start one sentence and finish another... kind of).

It does happen, though, that I design a scnene around a single line (that's supposed to be the point of it), and then the scene develops in a way that the line which it's supposed to end in no longer fits. It's still an "efficient" scene, though.

PaxNoctis
September 8th, 2004, 01:02 PM
I couldn't agree more.

During the latter times, when I just want to explore a new world, I usually do a first draft. I bang through a first draft at a rate of about 25-50 manuscript pages a day (typing 120 wpm helps). It's all in prose form, but it's very messy, loose prose. It's mainly just storytelling. Exploration of the world.

Once the 'brain-dump' phase pauses, I go back and work on revising however much of it is done. Cleaning up messy sentences and making things prettier. Then the cycle reverses and it's back to frantic writing.

-Pax

ironchef texmex
September 8th, 2004, 07:05 PM
I think I know what you're talking about. It kind of goes back to the old "writing for yourself" vs. "writing for others" debate.

I go back and forth. On the one hand I REALLY want to be published. On the other, trying to figure out what could make my stuff "publishable" has, I think, been killing my writing as of late (an every three hour feeding schedule for twin babies hasn't been helping either).

So, at the moment, I'm kind of drifting back in the direction of "writing for myself". But for me that doesn't mean that I just float along writing whatever comes to mind. It means that I make each paragraph say exactly what I think it should say without any concern for how it might be received by publishers, or what the word count is, etc.

It's not a bad place to be. Less pressure.

Bardos
September 9th, 2004, 01:57 PM
Have you ever thought that someone else might enjoy reading about your vacation? :) A large number of fantasy readers enjoy exploring a new, imaginative world. Of course, you need plot to tell a story, but not everything has to be plot. Paragraphs, or even chapters, about the world or your characters aren't always a minus for the book.