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How can I call myself a writer…

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Nimue, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    …when I don't consistently write? The answer to that is I can't, and I don't. I haven't written anything for a month, and that's been more the rule than the exception, this year and many others. I have nothing to contribute here, because I haven't been writing. I haven't been to my writer's group in months. It's pointless to research or study craft because I don't actually write.

    It's been almost a year since I started my current main project. In that time, I have barely cleared 30k words on it. That is it. It's not as though this is the kind of draft that would justify four years being spent on it (at this rate)--it's completely raw. In that time I've also written a couple short stories and some words on a useless side project, but in total… I've written less than 50k this year. People write that in a month. Writers manage three thousand words a day and finish entire series by the time they're twenty-five. Everyone has finished something to be proud of, and my high-water mark is a years-old unfinished 80k draft of truly limp plot and awful prose. Am I the only one who struggles this much over so little?

    At this point I don't know if I even want to hear someone say they write that slowly and they've made it work, somehow, or if I want to hear that I'm right, I'm not cut out for this; I should stop pretending at goals or improvement and sit in the corner with my daydreams, moving characters around like dolls in shallow scenes without plot or substance, as I did when I was a kid. It's not as though I've made it much beyond that. Just writing for my own entertainment, to scratch that peculiar itch. For what that's worth, it would be better to simply read more and find someone who's written what I want to, but done it well.

    It's only realistic: not everybody creates something worth reading. I look at who I am and what little I've done so far and think, "Sorry, honey. This is not happening."

    Sorry about the word vomit. Probably should not post unhelpful shit like this, but I just wanted to vent & explain why I'm not around. Can't cut it.
    Thomas Laszlo and Miskatonic like this.
  2. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    1 - I found your 'Top Scribe' tales to be very good. Publishable.

    2 - 'Writers do 3000 words a day? 50K a month?' I wish. My personal best is about 2500 a day and 48,000 a month. Right now, 1000 words a day is pretty good.
    Nimue and Thomas Laszlo like this.
  3. La Volpe

    La Volpe Sage

    I've actually also been off the writing rails for a bit (trying to get myself started again now). But your story makes me think of this bit in Stephen King's On Writing:

    A friend came to visit James Joyce one day and found the great man sprawled across his writing desk in a posture of utter despair.

    'James, what’s wrong?' the friend asked. 'Is it the work?'

    Joyce indicated assent without even raising his head to look at his friend. Of course it was the work; isn’t it always?

    'How many words did you get today?' the friend pursued.

    Joyce (still in despair, still sprawled facedown on his desk): 'Seven.'

    'Seven? But James… that’s good, at least for you.'

    'Yes,' Joyce said, finally looking up. 'I suppose it is… but I don’t know what order they go in!'​

    The moral I take from this: Some people write a million words a day; others write only one book in a lifetime. There's a whole spectrum of writers, and even if you don't write much, you're still a writer.
    Nimue, FifthView and Thomas Laszlo like this.
  4. Let's suppose that a golfer never makes it to the PGA tour. Are they still a hilfer? Let's suppose that golfer only hits nine holes once a month during the summer. Are they still a golfer. They are. Because a golfer is a person who golf. In a similar vein a writer is a person who writes. It doesn't matter how much or little or the frequency so long as they write.

    Fir myself I have gone months without writing a word but I am still a writer because I will always write. I may never get published but I will write and that's okay with me. Just like how I golf. I may never get on the tour but I will always go back the golfing.
    Nimue, Ronald T. and Gribba like this.
  5. Gribba

    Gribba Troubadour

    I had it, like you for a long time and was convinced, that I could not call myself a writer without having published something.
    Few years ago, I began going to archery training and I love it, enjoy it and I do my best every time I go shooting. Sometimes I shoot like a pro and other times I am not that great... but I realized that regardless of the level, professional or not, I am still shooting the target as best as I can, training as much as I can and work to be better at it when I can, I am an archer, regardless if I am a pro or not.

    So it hit me, I am a writer, I might not be a professional writer but I write when I can, as much as I can and I have the sorties in my head, waiting for me to write them, be it in a notebook or a computer. The stories are there and I will write them, regardless of the time frame it will be in, therefor I will always be a writer! And so are you!
    Nimue and FifthView like this.
  6. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    I'm in the same boat so I can sympathize. I can sit and brainstorm all day but actually sitting down in front of the computer consistently and writing the story is something I struggle with constantly.
    Nimue likes this.
  7. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

    Perhaps I should write something motivating, but the other people on this thread have already done that rather well. So I'll just skip to the advice stage. Take a break, read a bit, do some non-literary creative stuff, and then come back to writing when it feels right again.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
    Nimue and Thomas Laszlo like this.
  8. Thomas Laszlo

    Thomas Laszlo Sage

    Hey mate, if you have a lull or even if you right like this consistently, you're a writer. Your issue here is just sitting down to write. Trust me I don't do it either, and I won't say that your wrong because I think with the goals you have in mind your right, but think: The author of Divergence took her whole highschool and two years of her college career to write and publish it. The other three came out within one to two years after the each progressive novel. Which was better: The first.

    My point here is don't get down. You don't have any specific obligation to write as far as I know? So then you have no deadlines! Tale ten years to write and edit your writing and re-write etc.

    I have an obligation to write, and I haven't been (sorry Devon, Creed, and Banten) So youre beating me XD

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Nimue likes this.
  9. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    Oh this is great serendipity. Yes, sometimes there are stories, and sometimes there are only furtive sorties. But either way, the battle is far from over.....
    Nimue and Thomas Laszlo like this.
  10. Please don't despair, Nimue!!

    From what I've read of the stuff you've posted in challenges, you're a very good writer. I love your rich, sensuous style.

    You can work at improving your word count. Set a small daily goal, even 10 minutes a day. Set a goal so small you can hardly not complete it. Then build up. I did that at the beginning of the year and my stamina has seriously increased. I have a habit now.

    And writing stories for our own entertainment...that's pretty much what we all do. We write because we don't see what we want to read on the shelves in many cases. Its a perfectly legitimate reason to write.
    Nimue, Ronald T. and Thomas Laszlo like this.
  11. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    George RR Martin puts out a book every five- ten years, so he must not be a writer. Jk Rowling spent seven years just plotting Harry Potter. She must not be a writer either. Neil Gaiman sets his goal at 1000 words per day. He must not be a writer. Margaret Atwood does 2000 words/day. I guess she's not a writer either.

    Where are you getting these ridiculous expectations? 50,000 words a month? Are you kidding me?

    I'm not a writer either. I've never published anything except a few poems. But I like writing, and I'm going to keep plugging away at it. Chipping away, little bits at a time. But me goals are maybe different? I'm not in it for fame or fortune. I have a job and a family so I don't need a pay check or a deadline. I just want to write the best stories I can, and see what happens, no matter how long that takes.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
    Nimue likes this.
  12. Malik

    Malik Auror

    Typing is not writing.

    Everything you need to know about word count is here.

    Stitches and Glue | Joseph Malik

    Warning: adult content (profanity, literary theory).

    I spent 25 years working on my first book. Researching, writing, submitting, rewriting, studying the craft, taking professional writing gigs, resubmitting.

    I walked away from it twice. I finally put it down completely for years and didn't write a word of fiction until I was injured on a deployment and found the books again on an old hard drive in the hospital. And even then, with literally nothing to do but sit there and write, I tinkered with it off and on, and then did rewrites for nearly four years before publishing. 96,000 words in 25 years. That's averaging ten words per day.

    Time you spend researching, time you spend reading, time you spend journaling, time you spend sitting at your desk listening to music and twirling a pen and daydreaming; this is all writing time. It all feeds the monster.

    Granted, Book II came much faster, but it's still going to take a year.
  13. You are a writer Nimue, because you care enough to question yourself. Because presumably you want to be.

    You say you haven't written for a month? I haven't written properly for 7 months; I finished my CW degree and then just had a writing detox, and I'm still trying to get back in the saddle. But do I still think of myself as a writer? Of course! It is true that the great enemy of writers is a lack of productivity, but being a writer does not begin and end when you put pen to paper. When you make a mental note of a particular name that you really like, or when you sit in a café and remember a snatch of conversation you hear because of the vivid insight it gives into the people. When you watch a film and rearrange the twist in your head because it could have been so much better, or just have a strange feeling about something that you wish you could put into words. We are writers because this is how we express ourselves. I am still a writer because that is my most honest, satisfying way of being creative. A musician is not a musician only when they sit down at a piano, there is so much that goes on before they can play the 1st note.

    Writing is a very solitary activity, and a very internal, personal one. It must be for yourself first, you are getting hung up on the output of the most productive writers, what we see on the surface. Stories don't just spring from the pen fully formed, they come from the imagination, drawing on years of personal experience of just living. All you have to do is think if you want to call yourself a writer. If you do, then all you need to do is focus on your imagination. Pay attention to it, encourage it. Only a fraction of being a writer is the physical, tangible papers. Good luck.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
  14. Malik

    Malik Auror

    Goddamn right.
  15. Ronald T.

    Ronald T. Troubadour

    Dear Nimue, it breaks my heart to see you so filled with despair and self-loathing over your writing schedule or what you perceive to be quality unworthy of praise. I've been there, and I know how painful it is to feel that way.

    But I would ask you to be as generous with yourself as you are with other writers. I'm quite positive that if you read a post like the one you just shared with us, you would be one of the first to offer loving and supportive advice, and you would do your best to come up with a way to lift that writer's spirits. As difficult as it will be, you must find a way to extend that love and support to yourself. No matter how you feel right now, you are a writer.it is an intrinsic part of who you are. The trick to beating this kind of false self-image is to be as kind and generous to yourself as you would wish to be with others. You are worth that same personal effort.

    Clearly, you're in a dark place at the moment, and you see no light at the end of the tunnel. But the light is there, just waiting for you to show your determination to never give up.

    You are a writer, and you always will be, if you don't let the darkness destroy that creative part of you that wishes so desperately and profoundly to be heard.

    My hope is, you will be as kind to yourself as you are to your friends.

    I wish you only the best.
    Nimue likes this.
  16. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    @ Nimue, please don't think that in order to contribute to these forums you need to write consistently. Many of us here enjoy your presence and you already know what I think about your stories so...*hugs*

    If it's any consolation, I'm about to turn 39 in a few weeks. I stopped writing at age 22 for ELEVEN years because I couldn't get traditionally published. I didn't give a shit anymore. Until one day, I wrote down a phrase, which was a blip of a scene. The next day, I wrote a bit more, and the day after that a bit more, and I never stopped. That was six years ago. It came back to me—writing—like an old passionate flame and didn't let go. So, it's going to be okay.

    From what I recall, you're fairly young still. Use this time to live, learn, mature into the fine wine of a woman that you're to become. One thing about writing that I believe to be true is that writers get better with a combination of aging + practice. Being older and wiser brings a deeper understanding of people and life situations that you don't have the same ability to discern and understand when you're younger. You see the world through different lenses, you become hardened and realistic. Not in a bad way, but in the sense that it does take a fuller understanding of the world to write good fiction. So, my dear, this time of yours is being far from wasted.

    It all comes down to what you want, too. If all you want to do is read right now, then read. Don't worry about writing right now, perhaps you need a hiatus. And whenever you do decide to write again, don't go back to your writing group. Lol. Tell the stories that fuel your creativity, respect yourself as an artist, and know that it'll all work out. Ten years down the road you might be crazy for it. Don't despair. :) xoxox
    Nimue and Ronald T. like this.
  17. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Also, as a side note, whenever you do feel like writing again please know that it takes a serious amount of discipline, which is only achieved over time. If you're thinking that you should be writing way more than you are because others...then that's only going to stress out. Books don't write themselves, clearly, they're written one word after the other. When you finally are able to let go of giving a shit about anyone and anything but your creative voice, then you'll be surprised at what comes out.

    And how quickly those words will come, too.

    Putting in strong word counts is achievable in smaller chunks. Like word sprints, time sprints, etc. Daily work. DAILY. A lot of writers are put off by that but this goes to show that no, you aren't going to be writing daily when you're mentally not there. Don't torture yourself, girl! When your mojo comes back, don't expect to be putting in 50k in a month. Start in small, incremental steps. It's taken me two ****ing years to get to the point where I'm putting in 50k a month. And I'm slow compared to other writers in my Indie group. It's taken them years, too. So no, it's not something anyone just does. :)

    **Also, my word counts aren't always "good" words per say.** I spent two hours yesterday cleaning up my current manuscript, deleting stupid shit that didn't even make sense. So while I do put in my word counts, much of the time those words get deleted or replaced for new ones. It isn't so clear cut as 50k!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 12, 2017
  18. Ronald T.

    Ronald T. Troubadour

    Such good advice, Chessie.
  19. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    This was me last night:

    I was in bed with my new laptop and laptop table, my lovely Scrivener open up, and me ready to begin a new chapter. I have the story in my head and so many words in my head, but I just couldn't marry the two. So I stared at a blank screen for a long time. Finally, I began to write, "It was a warm and windy day".... I looked at it. Immediately, 1000 voices began screaming back, It was a dark and stormy night!!! Nyah nyah nyah!! I deleted the line, closed my laptop, and prepared for sleep. I'd had enough of that, thank you very much! :eek:
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
  20. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Are you saying that you had enough of creative voice? What a shame. :p

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