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Dealing with draft loathing

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Nimue, Sep 25, 2015.

  1. Kobun

    Kobun Scribe

    When I'm having a hard time with how awful I think my writing is, I just have to force myself to keep writing. Stick to a minimum wordcount, just get the words down. If I'm struggling with a scene, I won't be writing that scene forever. Eventually I'll get to something that I like, and then I'll be able to polish up the part that I didn't like.

    When you look at writers that you feel are so much better than yourself, stop trying to compare yourself to them in terms of "He or she is so much better than me and I am so much worse than he is or she is." Look at it in terms of a) What do they do better than me and will adapting it to my own writing fit my voice, and b) What do I do better than them. No writer is perfect, and everyone will have flaws that you will be able to find with even a cursory glance. Doing this will help these guys to stop seeming like published gods and more like human beings who had to start somewhere, just like you.
  2. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    All I can say is yes. A thousand times yes.
  3. stephenspower

    stephenspower Inkling

    Erase and start over. At the very least go back to where you don't hate what you've written and start afresh from there. Not revising or rewriting. Totally recreating. That was Tolkein's strategy.
  4. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    Thank you guys for all of your advice... It's good to know that others have worked through this successfully.

    As of today I've managed to write every day for a week, and while it's a tiny bit pathetic, it's better than I've done in a long time. This is what I've been doing/am planning to do:

    1. Have more than one idea going. I finished a short story and started on...a longer short story/novella thing? And I think my enthusiasm for those ideas helped take some of the pressure off my WIP because I finally broke into the next scene. It helps that all of these pieces are set in the same world, but I think that basically I need to embrace other ideas that pop up and use that imaginative fuel, because God knows I'll get distracted anyway. As long as I'm writing something, I'm not fussed.

    2. I'm not paying attention to word counts at this point. After a few more weeks, once this is a legitimate habit, I'll start tracking that and setting goals. But for me, word counts just make it easier to quantify failure. If I just start writing without an end line, I get down more than I'm expecting.

    3. Any way that I get something done works. Typing in a blank doc was too hard the other day so I got out my notebook. I downloaded a pomodoro app, which helps when I can't get started. (Pushing a button labeled "start" is one way of doing that) This is incredibly dumb but I've got this desk calendar that I particularly love and I've been putting hearts in black pen over the days that I write. I did this in college and it worked, okay. Shut up.

    4. I think the bottom line is that I have to allow for some failure. That if I miss a day of writing for no good reason or only write a couple sentences that's neither the end of the exercise nor incontrovertible evidence that I'm a terrible human being. Also, I need to allow myself to have a rough draft; I need to be able to say "well, not a great sentence, but whatever. Next thing."

    And it is important to acknowledge bad emotional states but not to give them too much weight, because they do pass, and you get through it. I hope I remember this thread next time I feel this way and read some of this advice, and know that it's entirely possible I'll wake up the next day, write most of a short story, and suddenly be making progress again. No matter how utterly whiny I feel at the moment, heh. (Sorry about that, I really am!)

    This is an interesting suggestion, because I think I do need to see parts of my writing that read well, even if it's just a paragraph. I might try this next time I'm feeling stuck. It is such universal advice! I find it useful for getting quantity of words on paper, but sometimes I need to know that this will look better in the end. And I need practice editing.
  5. stephenspower

    stephenspower Inkling

    Those are good strategies. I find that short stories suck up a lot of time from novels, so now I reward myself with them: finishing outlining a chapter or part, get to write a story. That keeps the novel from becoming a grind too.

    A funny thing I read about yesterday that could act as a test is MVI: Minimum Viable Interest, which the investor Doug McClure defines, essentially, as, Do you give enough of a shit about something to make someone else give a shit? When it comes to a story, if you can't achieve MVI, drop it or put it aside for a while.
  6. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

    I'm going to suggest you keep an achievement chart/calendar and pin it somewhere you can see it. You don't have to set yourself word count goals, but you could write down what you have achieved on any given day, even if it's just a bit of research or world building, or a few sentences. It might make for interesting observations at the end of the month (when you reward yourself with a tub of Haagen Dasz).

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