Friday, 8 November 2013

Writing Woes

CC image courtesy of ilouque 
This week I have yet again been confronted with a question about my abilities: am I just not 'meant' to write fiction? Is it somehow just not possible for me? This has been a recurring question in my life, though perhaps only for the past six years or so - it could possibly be longer but I'm not entirely sure my memory of my pre-teen years are reliable. I can say with great certainty that I did not always feel that way - I remember writing one of my favourite stories when I was 11, and being proud of it for a very long time.
Now it seems to have become some sort of fight, with fiction constantly winning, and me constantly asking for a rematch. So what does the fact that I can't give up say about me, my writing abilities? I'm not too sure, to be honest. Perhaps I should accept defeat. I do not have this problem with non-fiction, and even poetry (which I struggled with for a while, feeling as though I'd never 'get it'). Now, I'm not saying my poetry is top quality, or that my non fiction is top notch, but in those cases I don't feel the huge block I experience with fiction. I even feel my non fiction is quite good; I have abilities in that field. But fiction? It just never seems to work.

Each time I try and fail, I wonder why. Is it a lack of plot? A lack of character growth? I'm still not entirely sure. This month is National Novel Writing Month, as some readers will know, and I did try, again. I started off with a plot I always seem to go back to, though with a few differences each time. October 31st rolls around, and I realise this plot won't work. I refrain from weeping silently, and start thinking of another plot. I manage to find a plot. I cannot think of character names, so write one word descriptions in capital letters to keep track. I write a little bit, and perhaps two days later, I feel the need to change the plot. I did not completely throw it away, but combined the old one and the new one. I then became very excited and wrote a scene about one of the new characters. And then... just a few days later, it's over. I don't want to do this any more, I can't do it, I tell myself. The plot is becoming too complicated, I have no idea how to write it well - I'd even veered to a genre I never have written in, and the whole thing feels like a huge chore.


What am I doing wrong? I don't think it can be just plot problems - obviously I did have some ideas. Sometimes I wonder if it's just laziness. I do sometimes feel like writing out a scene is just too much of an effort. I might have thought of it, visualised it.. writing it down? Ugh! Too much work... Strange, though, as I love to write in general. I love writing non fiction. I love experimenting with poetry. And so the question remains unanswered. Plot? Characters? Laziness? I wondered if perhaps I was subconsciously rebelling against novel writing because I 'had to' write one to take part in NaNoWriMo, but the fiction block happens any month, any time I try to write a story. I have started many stories, never to be finished. Sometimes I manage to write a lot of words for one story, but sooner or later it dies.

I've been thinking about trying to write short stories and move away from the novel form, but even that feels difficult, even unachievable. Short story writers feel like a special group of writers, able to do what novelists do with a fraction of the words! Long story short, I've not found the answer to my peculiar block. At least not yet.


Do you like to write? Is there a form of writing you've never been able to achieve, and still want to? Or is there a form of writing you don't dare to try? Comment below and share your woes!


7 comments:

  1. Very honest! I take long breaks between my short stories, in other words, I simply wait for the next inspiration! Keep trying, you'll get it right at some point

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    1. Thanks! I'm going to leave lengthy fiction alone for a bit, and try to write some short stories. I'm sure I'll find some ideas eventually!

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  2. I hear people talk about "week two blues" with NaNoWriMo a lot. I don't know. I don't think the point of NaNo is even to have a plot that works with character names and a functioning storyline. The point of NaNo is to force yourself to write 50k in a month (or as close as you can get) *despite* maybe not having a functioning plot, characters, names, or anything. The point of NaNo is to smack down the inner editor who says "this plot is crap" and say instead, "I know it's crap, and I intend to write 50k words of it so shhhh let me edit later!" I get you on feeling frustrated, but I wonder if maybe you are overplanning. Maybe it would be beneficial to toss your outline and just go, concentrating on word count and not caring whether it makes sense. I, like you, used to be absolutely crippled by doubts. I couldn't get 200 words out without wondering, "Does this make sense?? Why?? What about the plot??? Ahhhh!!!" With NaNo, I just couldn't do that. NaNo helped me overcome the doubts, because it gave me permission not to care. Again, the point isn't to write something good or even coherent during NaNo; the point is to get 50k. You can always edit later. Even if you end up shelving your creation, you'll have to learned to set doubts and the inner editor aside as you write.

    Best of luck to you! :)

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    1. I'd heard of the week two blues, too. I guess the biggest thing for me was 'Am I enjoying this'? As much as I like the challenge, if it was causing me to start actually hating getting on with writing, I thought it went rather against what I wanted to achieve from it. Of course, it may partly be 'having' to write that put me off, but mostly not enjoying it.. I get what you're saying, though. I do tend to over-think, and I was definitely thinking a lot about all the plot points that I would have to explain.
      I haven't totally abandoned NaNo - and I definitely haven't abandoned writing! I may very well try sit and just write, now I've had two days off from it! Thanks for your comment and encouragement!
      Good luck to you too. :)

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    2. :) If you find NaNo is making you miserable, then you can always stop doing it. I hope your writing goes well! Even if you don't "win," you'll have written something. :)

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  3. I've only done NaNo once, but it seems like it's too stressful for me. I tend to write without a plan starting with a basic premise. I end up writing in circles for several thousand words while I work my way through it, and revisions are a real pain, but for me it's the only way it gets done. This goes for both novel and short story.

    Maybe you could try just writing whatever comes to mind for a while and see if anything comes out of it.

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    1. Thanks for your comment! I've been finding it stressful too - it's much more like essay writing than just.. writing in terms of how it feels. I probably won't do it next year. However it's helped in other ways - I will probably be trying to write short stories in the future, and it's helped a bit in other writing aspects.
      I think everyone has a writing style that they need to find, and then they can get somewhere. Glad you have a way that seems to work for you!

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