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I'm becoming a Gun Shy Writer...

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Xaysai, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. Xaysai

    Xaysai Inkling

    So I've been writing a lot of short stories lately.

    My process usually goes like this:

    1) Write out a mostly stream of consciousness first draft.

    2) Come back to it a day later to revise.

    3) Let is sit for 2-3 days to "think on it" and then come back to it for a few more revision passes.

    4) Edit

    5) Finish

    What I'm finding is this: many times I get the story done and REALLY want to publish it or share, but am terrified to do so because I ALWAYS think of something different to add, or a new way to end it which greatly improves it.

    For instance, I've been working on a short story about Valkyries this week. It's ~800 words, and has literally taken me a week of working on it to finally be happy with it. Last night I was ready to finalize it, but I didn't pull the trigger.

    Today I took another pass at it and added a new ending THAT I LOVED.

    Had I not given it more time, I think it would have been a so-so piece, but now I'm extremely happy with it.

    It's happening so frequently that I am leaving stories unpublished (to my blog) longer than maybe I should because I'm afraid that an idea will come along that I will regret not including into it.

  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    I know *exactly* how you feel. The same thing happened when I was finalizing Winter's Queen; I kept thinking of new details about the characters that would alter the story, or reworking ideas that didn't quite work for me. I'm still in the process of revising several scenes, and I don't expect to be done soon.
  3. MadMadys

    MadMadys Troubadour

    I don't have your problem but had a possible solution for you to get more ideas out without feeling the need constantly revise.

    Do all your stories exist in the same world or are all of them totally independent from each other? If they're all the same universe/time frame I'd say work out a story and finish it. Then, if any other ideas pop in your head, rather than shoving into your other story, work it into a new one set in the same world.

    As I said to start, I don't have your problem exactly but I have had times where I've wanted to insert a certain character or speech or something and started with trying to fit into the story I was working on at the time. Instead, because it could disrupt the story or take too much time to fit properly, I just created a new story with that idea built in from the story.

    Just my two cents. All of this could possibly be entirely unhelpful.
    Xaysai likes this.
  4. Sinitar

    Sinitar Minstrel

    This doesn't sound like much of a problem to me. You're a perfectionist, so what? Most writers are(and not by choice, mind you). However, if you are pleased with the results, it's best to let go at some point. Other stories may take advantage of the neat ideas you are waiting for, and the context can be even better than the last! Unless I take a look at your writing, there's nothing else I can add :)
  5. I personally don't mind guns in my stories, as long as they fit the setting. My characters tend to be bulletproof one way or another anyway.
  6. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    I have several stories I've written myself and haven't sent them out. It isn't because of wanting to add more though or fear of rejection. It's more just looking for the right market to send it.

    I like MadMadys's suggestion of just saving whatever idea you have for a different story. I had this problem with one story where I wanted to add this character and that character, but then I realized it was pulling away from the characters I really wanted to focus on. So now I have this file (an idea I've had before, but cemented after watching one of Brandon Sanderson's classes) where I just put ideas for characters, stories, etc. Then I can come back to them later and give them the attention I think they properly deserve.
  7. But seriously.... Xaysai, I wouldn't say this seems like much of a problem; it sounds like you mostly benefit from it. A lot of us are probably in too much of a hurry, so I'm guessing it's a good thing that you can take your time and let your ideas mature a bit.

    Just, try to set a firm limit to how much extra time you are willing to give them. There needs to be a place where you draw the line and say: "No, this is good enough."

    If anything, I think the dangerous word here is "afraid." You shouldn't be afraid that your story could be better. The correct word here would be "hopeful", I belive. You should do this because it makes you feel good, not because not doing it makes you feel bad, if that makes sense.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  8. saellys

    saellys Inkling

    I have to admit, I don't understand the concern that you're not posting things on your blog fast enough. If you're worried about losing readers by not generating enough content, you might want to expand the kind of content you post and start writing articles about writing itself, or book reviews, or plugs for other authors, or what-have-you. I understand the need to market yourself and keep the posts coming, but the fact remains that good writing takes time.

    Depending on which anecdote you read, it took Leonard Cohen between two and five years to write "Hallelujah," and he had to trim about ten verses. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the time you need to take in order to make your work the best it can possibly be. I get the feeling that a lot of writers on this forum and in the self-publishing world in general have a "get it done" mentality that can be detrimental to their craft. Sometimes a character or a story--even a very short one--has to steep for a while before motivations and arcs reveal themselves. In your case, one week to find the right ending for an eight hundred word story really isn't long in the scheme of things.
  9. Xaysai

    Xaysai Inkling


    Perhaps I wasn't clear enough: I'm not trying to churn out content for readers/views. I'm quite certain that my 5 blog followers and 20 view per day traffic isn't going to be up in arms if I'm not posting regularly enough : )

    My motivation to post work at this point is more about receiving feedback from family, friends and other writers. Only slightly less rewarding for me as a writer than creating something which I am truly proud of, is finding out that someone enjoyed reading it. With that being said, I am aiming for one 800-1,000 word short story per week, which I think should be doable.

    The point I was raising in the OP was more about knowing when the story is complete.
  10. Leif Notae

    Leif Notae Sage

    All right, time for the retired dog to get out of the kennel...

    This is the curse of a perfectionist. You are shunning the perfect. You are perfect, and the story was perfect that night you finished it up. You came back the next editing session and found an even MORE perfect way to do it, so instead of accepting the perfect you, you are shunning it by waiting for ANOTHER perfect moment to come by...

    Except that it might not. You could be sitting there for years for ANOTHER perfect you to come by and add more, but by doing that, you aren't accepting the perfect you right now.

    There are many authors out there that HATE their original works because they see it from their lives right now. What they forget is these things were perfect when they wrote them.

    In other words, pull the trigger and do it. Stop shunning your perfect self and let people see what you have.
  11. ...I do not think that word means what you think it means.

    Anyway, I wouldn't really call this perfectionism. That's when you obsess over percieved flaws to the point where you can't appreciate the work as a whole, and set up unrealistic goals for yourself. What Xaysai is describing sounds more like allowing himself an extra draft on the chance that he thinks of something he really likes.

    Look at this:

    That doesn't sound like a writer suffering from a debilitating neurosis. That sounds like a writer with keen instincts; one who knows when to trust his intuition.

    You don't want to overdo it, of course, because sometimes a story really is finished when it's finished. But in moderation, I can't think of any reason it would be inadvisable.

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