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The people who say they want to write but never start.

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Annoyingkid, Mar 21, 2019.

  1. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    I can't decide if it's because they know how much is involved and get paralyzed by the thought of all that work, or if they don't know what it takes and so think they can get it done any time. I believe it's consciously the latter, but subconsciously the former.

    What would you say to someone to get them to start? I know someone who won't.
     
  2. goldhawk

    goldhawk Troubadour

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    Ira Glass on Beginners:

    "Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone has told me. All of us who are in creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is a gap. For the first couple of years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer.

    "And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. Most people I know who do something interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all got through this.

    "And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know that it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you finish one piece.

    "It's only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met. It's gonna take a while. It's normal to take a while. You just gotta fight your way through."
     
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  3. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I think it's the former. Maybe the latter is true at first; but pretty soon the author will put stuff down on the page and then the former swells into the conscious mind.

    I know that for me, a major issue has been the fact that no one in my family and no one close to me in my milieu growing up actually did it. Intellectually I knew it was being done—I was reading all these books, right?—but the process was entirely an abstract. I suppose this happens with other fields and endeavors. No one in my family has entered politics either, so I don't have a foundation that can serve as a guide to the process and what to expect. No one in my immediate family has opened their own business: another case of an endeavor that was totally abstract to me while I was growing up.

    Finally, the stakes, too, were abstract. Imagine entering politics or opening a business on your own, having never had a close example while growing through childhood and beyond. If you give it a shot and fail, you will hopefully have learned something about how to do it. This is like writing fiction. But on the other hand, you'll have suffered much more in the failure, financially especially and probably in your public reputation. If you fail while trying to write that first novel—it's bad, you can see it's bad, it's a hot mess—well you can just quit without having suffered much in a material, real way. No one will know, and the only major thing you'll have lost is time, maybe. And there's always more time.
     
  4. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Knowing that successful authors have felt the same through early failures but came out rosy is the tiniest bit reassuring. Hearing some of the early trials and tribulations of Sanderson et al on Writing Excuses, for instance, reassures somewhat.

    But the Don't try. Do. advice, or the Just write, write, and write some more; you'll get better advice is missing a major component. When those who have passed through the valley of death say they've finally emerged, that doesn't remove the valley, heh. "Well, good for you," is an instinctual response.

    That's good advice, incidentally, But knowing the passage is worth it—I think this is key. One must have a goal and faith in that goal, a strong desire. I'm not sure many actually have this desire. The dynamic I mentioned in my comment above to AnnoyingkidAnnoyingkid comes into play here, I think, since having no successful examples growing up leaves the end point, the ultimate goal, somewhat abstract also. What replaces the concrete goal is a set of fantasy results, vague ideas about what it would be like to be a successful, money-earning (and/or, reputation-earning) author and having a life shaped by that success. I think it's easy to lose faith in those fantasy results, and this is why many burgeoning fiction writers give up.

    I'll give a suspicion, totally unfounded in objective knowledge. I think a subset of the successful authors were plain lucky to have a blind eye re: the valley of death, heh. The end goal was so strong for them, they just trucked along, hardly noticing or feeling the dejection that builds during that long journey through the desolate valley.* They came out better for it, even so; it's just that they enjoyed the writing process so much (the journey) the landscape passed by them without gnawing at them, without grinding them down so much. As I said, this possibility is totally unfounded in objective knowledge.

    *One can imagine those in this subset: "It was a bump in the road, sir. A bump in the road. The air was a little dry, a little hot. But I just closed my window. My air conditioning system wasn't the best, but it got me through. Once I came to a tree that had fallen in the middle of the road; but the landscape was flat enough, and the traffic was so little, I was able to drive around."
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
  5. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    I get the excuses. I need to clean. I need to do this and that. I need to get myself sorted out first. I haven't got ideas. And so on. Thing is if you're unemployed anyway and retired or on disability, you may as well use your time in a way that exercises your brain. Going on the internet all day and doing nothing else really isn't good for your mind. I don't understand how people live like that because if it was me, I'd feel empty as the abyss. I know 3 people all related to me who all fall under this umbrella. One wants to write their memoirs, one wants to be a songwriter, one wants to be a film scriptwriter. None have written a single word. Well no, the scriptwriter wrote one script but lost it ages ago. It would be great to have a writing family but what can you do. Besides gain a huge lead on them. lol.
     
  6. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    It's fear.

    Fear of sucking. Fear of failing. Fear of being judged. Fear of putting in the work for nothing. All I can say is that I don't understand people like this. If you want to be good at something then you're going to have to practice. It's hard to understand the years of hard work and dedication that it takes to become a master writer. A lot of people aren't willing to put in the work.
     
  7. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

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    The internet with its constant stream of information, social media, and gaming are utterly destructive to writing for a variety of reasons. For years I gamed instead of writing as a form of creative outlet... in the MMORPG universe you’re always writing a bit in your head, especially back in the day of text gaming. When writing is done on the same device as you get the news, interact socially, play games, and research whatever for next novel (Last night was will a freshly severed head float in salt water!? I spent a good chunk of time on that with no definitive answer, LOL) it takes a discipline or tunnel vision to write a book, let alone write a good book, let alone a great book.

    That said! Writing has been seductive in realm of wanting to do, and a total pain in the ass to actually do, for so long a novel has been around. Mark Twain would’ve finished more books if not for the love of the billiard’s table, from I’ve heard. The reason’s are legion.

    As to what to say? Ha! I believe people need their own inspiration when it comes to writing. It’s a bit like quiting smoking, you can only do it when you decide to.
     
  8. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I find the objective of becoming a writer so abstract. It's not just that no one in my family has done it, but that the concept of working 9 to 5, being an employee of someone else, having a schedule set by an employer that must be followed, and so on was always "the way it is." It was life. The concept of working alone with abstract things like words in something of an artistic endeavor was like, hah, going to a fantasy world and defeating the Evil Emperor with magic: a very cool idea, to be sure, but not materially real.

    I'm not claiming to be special. I think this describes a lot of people. Maybe if I'd had a wacky uncle who was a fashion designer, or a father who was a selling painter, or...? Who knows if my early outlook would have been changed.
     
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  9. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    Distractions...

    ...ooh something shiny!
     
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  10. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    This is bogus imo. If you want to do it then you'll find a way to write. Period.
     
  11. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    There are writers and there are writers. If you define writer as someone who writes consistently, I agree wholeheartedly. If you define writer as someone with the willpower and dedication to put in the years it takes to get to the point where you can write a quality book (however that is defined), I disagree. Life gets in the way, other interests exist and no one has infinite willpower.
     
  12. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    It's all about desire and discipline. I have a full time job, a son, a husband, school, animals, life etc and make time regularly to write and it has always been that way. Of course everyone is different but what I'm saying is that if you want it bad enough you will make the time to write, agree or disagree that is what I have seen having friendships with many authors who also have lives. This mysterious idea of a lonely writer who has nothing but time to create is a myth. Writers write.
     
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  13. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Q: How do I become a writer?

    A: Become a writer.

    Q: That's a bit circular...

    A: Ok then, how's this. Just write.

    Q: Because that adds the "r"?

    A: ...

    Q: I already knew that.

    A: I'm glad I was able to motivate you.
     
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  14. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Over the years, I've gathered a list of things I want to do. I want to play the guitar. I want to watch the Simpsons from episode one to the present. I want to read all the classic books that everyone says you should read before you die. Etc. I want to do a lot of things. But I've come to realize, I only actually do the things I really want to do.

    Sure, sometimes I need a little encouragement or a little nudge. But I'll only keep at it if it's truly important to me.

    When I started to pursue writing, I didn't know what the hell I was doing. But I kept at it because I wanted to do it. And because I wanted to get better, I started to search out resources to help me, from podcast to writing books to whatever I could get my hands on. I still don't know what I'm doing, but I keep at it, because it's important to me. It's near the top of my priorities list.

    IMHO, if you really really want to do something, you will find reasons/ways to pursue it no matter what's in your way. If you don't, there's a world of reasons why you shouldn't/couldn't do it and any one of them will do for an obstacle as to why you can't.

    There's nothing wrong with not wanting to do something, but I think it's important to be honest with yourself as to why. I think it cuts down on the guilt, and is probably a lot healthier for the psyche. Why don't I practice guitar? Because I kind of don't want to. Right now, I only like the idea of being able to play and would rather be doing something else. That's my choice. It may change. It may not. But I have my priorities and if it's not guitar, so be it.
     
  15. MrBrightsider

    MrBrightsider Scribe

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    People don't start doing the things they want to do because its hard work to accomplish anything of value, and most people in this day and age are FAR too lazy to put in the effort. We live in a world of instant entertainment and distraction, and occupying your time is as easy as flipping open an internet browser. People have no self control, they refuse to pursue something meaningful, and focus on immediate gratification instead. And they never muster up the mettle to actually get down to business and accomplish their goals.

    Then they make up excuses as to why they suck.
     
  16. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    For me, it's a pointed fact that the comparisons here are only to hobbies and pastimes: playing the guitar, watching every episode of the Simpsons, reading all the classical books.

    Although many of us have dreamed—idly, I think, even if with some fervor—of having a career in some field where we are able to do what we love, not all of us have developed the faith that this is possible. What does that faith require? Heh, as I wrote way up above, I think some have had the stubborn, blindish faith and just stuck with it and come out the other side quite happily. Good for them, if they are doing what they love. For others, having a clear vision of what lies on the other side and how to get there, both, might be required for that kind of faith.

    One thing I find to be bogus—and this isn't in your comment—is the equating of failure to continue writing with some sort of abject laziness or cowardice when facing the long task of learning to be a successful writer. I would hark back to the OP and say that paralysis might, for some, have more causes than simply some inherent flaw in character.

    As for the desire, I think it is like the faith. If the journey and endpoint are hazy, the desire won't be strong enough to pass through. For some, the whole thing probably is an idle dream, a fantasy—then again, maybe that's not always a bad thing. At first.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
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  17. Mel Syreth

    Mel Syreth Scribe

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    Starting is the absolute hardest for me because I am afraid of having to rewrite and change things completely, and it sends me on a neverending path of planning.
     
  18. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Would it change things if one of the reasons I want to play the guitar is so I could write songs and music? What about instead of watching animation to creating it? Or instead of just reading classical books, going to school to study them, so I can use that knowledge to become a better writer? I mean isn't everything a hobby or past time if it's not a job?

    You know, people who have those dream careers, very few of them fall into them blindly. They work for them. They educate themselves on what that "dream job" requires and they shape themselves into fitting that bill. At the same time, they actively sniff around waiting for the time when that dream job comes up, then they pounce. And then, they probably fail their first chance at their dream job, but they keep at it. They improve by adding to their skill set. They make contacts. They make themselves be know as that person who wants that dream job. Then if they're lucky they might actually land it.

    All that applies to writing if you intend to publish. Educate one's self on the craft of writing and apply that education by writing. Find out what the submission or self publishing process is and shape your skill set into being able to fulfill the requirements for that. Be on the look out for submission calls, because they're opportunities to get your work and name out there, even if you get rejected. Goto writing conferences and meet agents and publishers and glean information on what they expect.

    Now, you don't have to do all these things in order to get published, but it certainly improves the odds.

    See for me, when things are hazy, I go out and try to dispel that haziness by gathering information in whatever form I can find it, books, podcasts, etc. To me, that's the first step. And with the internet as a resource and a way to find resources, it's not a hard thing to do. It just requires the will to do it.
     
  19. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Sage

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    For me it wasn't either of those things. It was more of a confidence issue. I knew I'd screw it up and no matter how many people told me it was okay for it to be terrible - it meant so much to me I couldn't mess it up. I just snapped out of it one day and started writing, It was also to do with the fact I mostly just had a premise and a setting for a year but couldn't find a plot I liked enough.

    I wouldn't say anything to them. They'll either start or not. I tried to help someone not so long ago. Sat talking to them for hours a day for weeks on end to help them work through their 'block'. Then she just disappeared. No thanks. No writing done. Wasted my time. Time I could have used writing my own stuff. If this person wanted to do it enough they would. There are loads of writing exercise designed to get you writing.
     
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  20. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    I have noticed in my own experience that whenever it comes up that i am a writer, the listener never asks me about what ive written but instead tells me about what they want to write. And i always think, yeah, but you never will.

    I have some friends who even seem really interested and perhaps could, but i have low expectations. What gets them to write? I think it has to come from inside of them first. I dont know any other magic. Mostly, i think ppl underestimate the effort and are already doing what they would rather be doing.

    I think many think they will just sit down and start and the first draft will be all that is needed. Maybe that will work out, but i remain a little skeptical.

    I have one friend who has a great mind for comedy (i do not have a great mind for comedy, i dont even like it) and has whole stories planned out in his head. But they are wasted there. The world will never see them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
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