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Xenomonster12
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10 Oct 2019, 12:06 pm

I’m a writer, and a bad one at best. Sometimes I can get the flow going perfectly, and I know precisely what words to use. But most of the time my word choice is repetitive, and the text is sloppy.

I love prose writing, and literature in general. I can only write on Wednesdays, but when it comes down to it I feel very unmotivated, and the whole thing feels like a chore. I’m always terrified I’ll open the document, and I’ll write like a drunken toddler who can never grow up.

Any advice?



Raphael F
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10 Oct 2019, 1:30 pm

If you die without anyone (yourself included) ever having derived any pleasure from any of your writing, then (and only then) you will perhaps have failed. But unless you're actually posting from your deathbed, I suggest it is too soon to talk about failure.

Here is some useful advice I heard on B.B.C. Radio 4 a few years ago:
An author was giving a talk at a book club or literary festival, or wherever. Afterwards a Member of the Public approached the Author and said, "Er, excuse me, er, you see, I've written a novel, but er, how do I know if it's actually any good?"

"You've written a novel?" queried the Author.

"Er, yes," confirmed the Member of the Public, sheepishly.

"As in, you've actually finished it?"

"Well, yeah!"

"Well, then yours is already one of the best novels of all time, because 99% of novels either never get finished, or else never even get started!"

So if you have a word processing package, then you may be better off writing something and then, if necessary, changing or deleting it on a subsequent Wednesday, than staring at a blank screen or not daring to open up the current draft. If what you've written is rubbish (or, more likely, if some bits of it are not as good as they need to be), you can always work on it and keep working on it, and you have as much chance as anyone of turning out something good. But if you've never dared to write it in the first place, then there is really not much hope for it at all.

The "control-plus-F" feature is handy for checking whether you've over-used a word. If you think you're a bit too fond of the word "vacillate", put that in the "control-plus-F" box and it'll take you to every instance of that word. Then you get out your trusty Roget and your trusty Chambers, look at the alternatives and check out their derivations and their true original meanings, and think about where "vacillate" really is absolutely the right word and where actually "hesitate" (or whatever) might actually be better. This process works well when you've written something. It won't work on a draft you haven't yet written...

"Sloppy text" I'm not 100% clear what you mean, but if the basic story is good and the characters are good and the dialogue is realistic, an agent may spot your potential, and then if what you've written gets accepted there are editors and proofreaders to tidy up any infelicities.

I say all this as though I were an expert in the field. Not counting non-fiction, all I've had so far is rejections, but that still feels better than the feeling I lived with for many years, which was a feeling that I'd like to try to be a fiction writer but wasn't sure if I really dared. At least now I have a completed novel (which no agent wants to take on...) and some completed short stories (one of which has been rejected, one of which I'm waiting to hear about, and the rest of which are either unfinished or not yet submitted). It is ultimately a numbers game: if you keep writing stuff and keep submitting stuff, sooner or later someone probably will, for whatever arbitrary reason, decide to publish it, and then you have the beginnings of a name. Or this is what I try to tell myself, anyway!


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Xenomonster12
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10 Oct 2019, 1:33 pm

Thank you very much.



BTDT
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10 Oct 2019, 1:35 pm

https://www.npr.org › sections › thetwo-way › 2017/04/24 ›
Apr 24, 2017 - 'Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' Author Robert M. Pirsig Dies At 88 : The Two-Way Zen was published by William Morrow in 1974, after being rejected by 121 publishing houses. The book has endured as a work of popular philosophy, and inspired many a road trip across the West.



Raphael F
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10 Oct 2019, 2:22 pm

Well, quite.

I heard of an author with Asperger's called Clare Morrall who got rejected 33 times before suddenly being accepted and then winning a whole load of awards.

Malorie Blackman O.B.E., a former Children's Laureate, was apparently rejected 82 times before getting published.

The board game Monopoly was rejected on all sides as being too complicated to be of any interest or commercial worth, yet it appears to have enjoyed a tolerable degree of success.

What are you going to do if you have a good idea and it doesn't happen to be a Wednesday? I try to carry a notebook with me everywhere, on the rare occasions I actually go out. Sometimes, for instance, I'm driving along and I suddenly realize a sentence would flow better if I changed one word, or I have a light-bulb moment and cry out: "Derek wouldn't say that! That's just not Derek! What Derek would say is, ... "

Note: it is not necessary to have a character called Derek for this to happen. In fact, I have never written a Derek. Maybe this is actually why my novel got rejected: no Dereks in it.

Anyway, if you have a notebook then you can pull over and write down your new idea. I personally don't have to wait as long as Wednesday, but still, the point obtains: if something occurs to you when you aren't at your computer, you need to have a way of preserving it until you are.

Further note: if you're driving a 53-seat coach and on the way to Blackpool, then pulling over may not be practicable; in such case, you'll just have to keep reciting "Derek" to yourself for the next 20 or 25 miles, then write down your revised dialogue a.s.a.p.


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danchrist
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11 Oct 2019, 2:35 pm

Embrace your inner drunken toddler. Let yourself write badly, then begin the adventure of improving it.

Easier said than done, I know: I struggle the same way.

Part of my journey has been trying to get myself to remember how, as a child, my passions were for me, alone. I dove into them, focused on them the way only we on the spectrum can, learned, built, did, for no-one but myself. In the end, the only way to fail our passions is by leaving them behind.



Raphael F
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11 Oct 2019, 3:52 pm

danchrist wrote:
Embrace your inner drunken toddler. Let yourself write badly, then begin the adventure of improving it.
V. much approve this advice.


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Sarahsmith
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11 Oct 2019, 5:24 pm

Im sure your writing is better than a drunken toddler.



Mountain Goat
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11 Oct 2019, 5:38 pm

I think your writing will be at least up to sober toddler standards... :P

Go for it. Who cares what your writing is like, as long as you can read it. That's what proof readers are for.

Do not let your abilities stop you from writing. Just write and enjoy.


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Awaiting asessment. Neurodiverse 173/200. Neurotypical 21/200.
Empathy 11/80. AQ 39. May make sense to some. :)