Not sure where to put this so I hope this is the right place.
I could do with some advice from the professionals and seeing as I'm a Janny Wurts fan I thought this would be a good place to come. I've had this idea for a novel for about five years, but I just can't seem to get it down on paper. Each time a try to start it, it doesn't feel right and I throw it aside and start again. I've now started just jotting down ideas, but I still can't seem to actually write this story. It's buzzing around inside me and I really want to get it down on paper. Are there any tricks I could try or things I should do?
Another question and not as important, but is 18 too young to be considering writing as a career? I've been bothered by this for a while now and have sometimes wondered if my concern over being too young was what was, in a sense, stopping me from getting my story down on paper. I guess I've always felt that I don't have enough life experience to be writing novels. A little advice would be great.
I'm sure you've already read it, but Janny's "Tips for Aspiring Writers" can be found at http://www.paravia.com/JannyWurts/website/AuthorsNotes/Tips/AspiringWriters/Writ ers.html
I'm no famous book-writer, but I've found that the article applies to any creative process, like music composition, not just writing, and I find it useful to reread every now and again.
It's never too young to start creating -- the life experience will come with time! If that shortcoming hangs your creative process, write what you know!
You're exactly right, Isla, it is NOT easy... I'm sure if Janny herself were to chime in here, she might say HER first book did not just come out onto paper without something of a fight. (You would have to wait for Janny herself to confirm or deny it, however, I have no clue )
My suggestion would be to not only take Brian's advice and follow the links to Janny's excellent advice above, but also experiment a little with your story.
I don't think 18 is too young to start - I was 13 when I had my first full blown brain storm, and it was for a Star Wars sequel. Since I have ZERO knack for using other people's characters correctly, I finally gave that up, and now use some of the situations and characters from that first attempt for other stories.
Whatever strikes your fancy with regards to your story, WRITE IT DOWN!!!!!! On paper, on dinner napkins, in your computer, whatever. You have the option of putting it aside if it does not meet with your satisfaction. You can either leave it in a memory book or box - and chuckle at your early audacity later when you finally DO make it as a writer - or you can use it in the future as the seeds of another story. Or, even better, you can look back and think, "Wow, I came up with something that good THEN, let's see where I can take it, knowing what I do NOW!"
I finally got finished with chapter 3 of my own story, which I was tempted to rename "Chapter 3: The Hero Gets Stuck in a Really DULL Section of Hell".
There were bits in chapter 3 that came out when I was typing at my keyboard that just did not seem to work. I got kind of irate at times, but I would simply cut them from the Word file I was using, and paste the bits into notepad text files and put the text files into a "not quite" subfolder within my story folder.
Fortunately, I did NOT delete those bits, because as the chapter went on, I discovered that they were actually useful, and deleting them meant too much of the drive was lost. So I resurrected them, made minor changes to fit them back in, and VOILA! chapter 3 started back up.
Also, don't be afraid to listen to the intuition you might get from "listening" to your characters.
Janny herself has "listened to the characters," and had some interesting results - ask her about Talith invading Pesquil's bath in SoM. The incident as she was writing the scene is as amusing as the scene itself!
Don't be afraid of your age. You have a story, and I don't recall ever seeing an age minimum to writing. You have every right to write down your idea, share it with the world and make a profit doing it.
Don't be afraid that you're going to write something "stupid". You are just fleshing things out to begin with, and "absurd" and "stupid" things will come out until you get a handle on what you want to write. Something that sounds "stupid" now, with a little bit of a rethink, can become an interesting and intelligent plot point.
Remember: Part of the creative process is a brainstorm - "storm" is exactly the right word, because ideas will strike out of seeming nowhere, and make little to no sense in the beginning.
Don't be afraid to listen to the characters - they might have something that actually works better.
Don't be afraid of cutting something out and putting it back in later. If you're using a computer, make a folder just for that story, and start plugging out the chapters. You can always snip something out if it does not work. Just don't DELETE it completely, because the bit you have snipped out might work later on down the line in the story. A "not quite" folder within your story folder is a great catcher for the unwanted things. Who knows, there might be a use for that rejected bit later. It might not work in chapter 2, but maybe chapter 10 has a place for it.
Do ask for advice from favorites - Janny must be going nuts at all of the questions I have asked over the years. I try to make it up to her by not only buying her books for myself, but also buying them as birthday and Christmas presents for friends.
Do read books that you like, such as Janny's WoLaS series, and see what makes them work so well for you. Look at the strengths of the author's writing style, and see what you like about it, or how you might do the same scene, but in your own words.
Do read books by other authors in the same genre you are interested in - i.e. Janny's "niche", epic fantasy, - I have read a lot of Raymond E. Feist and Terry Brooks. And the authors you choose to read don't necessarily have to be, as my friend Jean would say, a BNA (Big Name Author). Someone's first or only novel could be just as inspirational to you as a BNA.
Do pick up a decent dictionary and thesaurus - sometimes, it can be difficult choosing just the right words.
Don't be afraid to do a lot of research for background information. If you're not sure about something, ASK! Janny herself is getting an acknowledgement in the credits to my story, because her knowledge and experience sailing helped me with a MAJOR plot point in the first chapter.
Internet searches are good too, but keep your bullcrap detector on full power, because there is all sorts of stuff put out on the net wherein the author has no clue what s/he is talking about.
Yes, Isla, I would agree with Blue and say simply go for it. I began to write when I was at high school, totally ignored it while at university, and apart from the occasional foray into poetry, have only just begun again - and this is on a story that I have had sitting in the back of my mind since my early twenties (I am now 42!!)
I have found the advice in Janny's section on 'tips for aspiring writers' particularly useful, so I would encourage you to read it.
Another writer once suggested that writing about things you know about was a good starting place, and I have also found this to be helpful - whether you then transport this knowledge into a completely different realm or world or keep it in our current world.
Allow your characters to develop themselves, as I have found that they often have distinct ideas about how they should react to certain situations, which don't necessarily fit with my preconceived ideas of their behaviour. Usually they are the ones who get it right....
I know that sounds a bit odd, but that just seems to be how it happens!
Thanks for posting this concern and raising up so much great advise! Many writers have the urge to tell stories at very young ages. Like Leonie, I've spent a great deal of the last 20 years doing everything but writing and kept putting it off...now at 44 I find that the story and characters have surfaced again in a whirlwind of energy that is undeniable and rather, well a bit inconvenient (shhh don't let the muse hear that although I think she might relish it).
When I was 18, I knew that I wanted to be a writer and then I proceeded to spend years of my life listening to that little voice that said it was impossible to make a living...blah blah blah. I convinced myself that the responsible thing was to engage in life, get a career (ie job!) then accumulate "experience" and promised myself that I would write when I felt I had enough knowledge to do it justice.
Guess what, I still feel just as inexperienced at life now as I did when at 18! Okay, maybe I am a bit more confident...but the more I know the more I realize I don't know...so whatever you are waiting for (that elusive wisdom and life experience) seems a construct of our minds, not truly tangible. At least I haven't found it yet. My advise is to listen to these others who are writing. The best way to get good at it is to do it and keep the effort and attention focused. Respect your creativity (love Blue's ideas and wish now that I had all the pieces I've thrown away!)
Besides, the energy and resilience of youth can be used with great effect. Maybe you want to explore getting into a good creative writing program.
Thanks so much for all your advice. I'm glad to hear that age is not a limiting factor Unfortunatly, my family (and by that I mean my mother mostly) aren't enthusiastic about me being a writer. Whenever I mentioned it as a possible or deffinate career dream I was told you can't make a living by it.
I have another question for the wise and wonderful people out there: how do you manage to write and (if it's the case) hold down a job that brings in enough money to survive on? I don't seem to be able to be very creative after coming home form a long shift at work and I feel that I need days to get my creative mood back. Is that normal?
Thanks again for all you advice, particularly yours Blue. I will certainly try some of the things you mentioned and maybe stick with my beginings for longer before discading them.
Like Leonie, I am a "newbie" at writing, despite being 41. Like you, Isla, my parents, especially my dad, were adamantly against my trying to make a living writing.
The irony is, my father (who was Czech) passed away 6 years before the the so-called Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. The first president of post-communist Czechoslovakia? Vaclav Havel, a highly regarded playwright, a WRITER. I would have loved to have rubbed his nose in it: Hey, dad! President of Czechoslovakia is a WRITER! And I bet he SUCKS at math, too!
Of course, I think I might have become the only major casualty of the Velvet Revolution had I mouthed off like that to my dad!
Yeah, a day job or a career is the safer way to go, I guess. However, there is nothing that says you can't take an hour or two at some point in your day and just write, or brainstorm.
I am glad I could help you, Isla. Those are things that work for me, and I figured they might work for someone else. My workspace and notes are in a state of chaos, so do take any advice from me with a grain of salt.
What folks said here all applies - you have to kick out the critic when you are drafting, period. Let the story flow where it wants to go. Only where you KNOW where it is - not where it "should be" - can you revise or opinionate on what you have going.
Before you know - trying to analyze will kill the creative process.
People who analyze forget - that INSPIRATION leaps the gap. You only find the logic in HINDSIGHT. Front-ending, you always know the goal - but not HOW you are going to get there. Story is the discovery of those twists and turns.
Discovery is key.
You don't discover by logic, but by feeling your way ahead in the dark.
Shine a light too soon, or decide you have to KNOW everything - well, you can't be free to BE inspired by the element of surprise that is the alchemy of creativity.
On making a living - do anything WELL ENOUGH, believe in your dream with UNWAVERING vision - you can make it happen. Period. What you can't determine is the timing. But I've seen too many creative careers sacrificed by well meaning folks who don't want you to risk trying your wings.
You can be safe, and never try them. Or you can try, and try again.
It's not how often you crash and burn, it's how you handle the fact.
The only one who can give up that writing career is YOU.
Either you have the guts to take charge, leave the pack and go for it - or you don't. There's nothing safe about it, and nobody in the pack who's opted for "safe" is gonna encourage you to venture forth.
That's a decision you make yourself, and you have to be prepared to go it alone.
Even from this perspective, at my stage in life, this still applies.
True individuals understand that responsibility, although it isn't easy putting up with the clamor from the pack.
Do you live your life tailor made to please others - or do you live to test and try yourself?
Answer that and find where your comfort zone lies.
Taking charge of your own unique and individual creativity is not an easy road, or an easy choice. The rewards are immense if you have the courage, determination, and DISCIPLINE to see it through. Some stories write easily, and some tough as nails. Inspiration can wax and wane, and at times, one has to be patient with the process. Always, there are distractions to be set aside. This does not change, either.
To become a professional you have to step away from self pity and excuses. You have to nurture your creativity and you have to DELIVER. Period. And you have to maintain the quality, through the high water and the lows. You have to always go the second mile, no matter what stands in your way.
Not everyone is determined enough to cut it.
Taking instructions and a job from another's initiative is always easier....not being told what to do, or how to do it - figuring your own way out - you must step ahead of the pack. They follow YOU not the other way about....and not everyone wants to pick that road.
Thank you so much, everyone for your advice. In particular, thank you Janny. I guess, when I stop and think about it, I have been thinking along the same lines as what you are talking about. Creativity, like life, is fluid. It has it's ups and downs, but where it goes worng is when we try to control its destination instead of enjoying the ride.
I guess my biggest problem is switching off the critic and listening to the creativity and I presume that only comes with practice and perciverance. I suppose that being a writer is mostly about dedication to the creativity and a willingness to jump into the unknown. Easier said than done ;)
Again, thank you for all your advice, I will certainly take it to heart and see where it leads me.
Janny says it best when she says turn off the critic. Just write the story. The motto I tend to live by for a first draft is, "It doesn't have to be good, it just has to be finished." Once it's done, then is the time for me to make it good.
As to the day job - now there is something I can speak to easily. Find a job that you LIKE - if you find something you enjoy doing, you'll likely find yourself more invigorated and able to write, no matter how busy you are. If you aren't in a job you like, you'll likely find yourself drained, and exhausted, with no desire to even think, much less create.
I know this from experience. For the past 18 months I've worked at what most consider a pretty insane day job (I do energy and government consulting).
In that same period, I've edited an anthology, assistant edited an anthology, seen two more short stories in print, sold a third, written the first full draft of a novel, and done a handful of paid freelance publishing jobs (From slush reading to creating marketing plans).
The reason I could do all this? I love my day job. I enjoy the people I work with, I like solving people's problems, and I like to believe I'm making the world better at the same time. And it gives me a chance to be creative and think outside the box - which I find is only good for the fiction-writing side of me.
If you can find a job you love, that plays to your other interests or to your interest in writing, you'll be able to support yourself, enjoy your life, AND write while you work your way up in the publishing world.
As to age .... You are NEVER too young to write.
Never give up, no matter what anyone ever tells you. Whatever anyone else says, you CAN do it. You can be a writer if you put in the effort and the time to become good at it, and have the patience and commitment to keep working and keep improving, no matter what anyone says.
Every writer comes to writing by a different road. It doesn't matter how old you or what you've done to date. All it takes is courage and commitment to begin the journey. And it sounds like you have that.
Hmm...yeah i guess you're right Jana, you have to do a job you enjoy or you just going to be drained.
I'm so glad to see so many people don't belive in there being an age limit, it really boosts my confidence. I'm really invigorated to wirte and actually see it through to the end. And for that I have to thank each and every one of you that have answered my post. You have all really given me the extra push I needed.
I think I was in your very position 5 years ago when I was 18. Like everyone here says, there is no age limit to writing. I started dabbling with it when I was 12, but it wasn't until I was 18 that I began taking it seriously.
And, regarding your parents not being supportive? My mom wasn’t too. For a long while she thought that I was just wasting my time and life and that writing would get me nowhere. You have to be firm here in knowing what YOU want for yourself. Parents who aren't writers, or who don't understand the field can't be blamed for not understanding your passion. They want a career what appears tangible, concrete and secure, for the best interest of their child. Who can blame them?
So my deal with my mother was, as long as I didn't neglect my studies, and as long as I got myself a good job somewhere, I can write to my heart's content.
But that required a lot of convincing too, and patience, and eventually, after showing her that I COULD perform in school and still write, the situation turned, and my mom is now one of my strongest supporters.
Even now, with a full time job (and numerous after-work meetings), that meant a lot of sacrifices ~ Missed episodes of my fav tv shows, cut down on the sleep hours, time squeezed between work, coming to the office early so I could squeeze a paragraph or two, notes jotted between meetings and seminars, but I love doing it so much that I don’t mind all that.
You want it bad enough, you’ll do it – no excuses (heehee, trying to sound like Janny here, hahahaha, sorry Janny :p) . I used to give the excuse to Janny that I’m saving up all my ideas for the summer break, and she gave me a really good point –
Write a paragraph a day, or a sentence a day, or jot notes on a file card you keep in your pocket, if you don’t have time for that, you’re not THERE. Time is a luxury writers don’t have, and you have to create that time for yourself.
Jana's advice on finding a job you love is a good one. It's very, very true.
One of the best advices I got from Janny is the exact one she's giving you right now, either stay with the herd and not try, or move out of the pack and blaze a new trail.
And also expect rejections...it happens ALL the time. I was at the point of giving up (just last month!),but then Julie Czerneda bought my short story for an anthology…..my first story sold! And all that sacrifice paid off.
Best of luck with your writing
This topic really caught me because ... well, may I explain ... and hopefully get some advice too!
I always wanted to be a writer, from when I was a kid. The reason was that I loved reading so much and felt I would love to create something so wonderful as a book that others might one day enjoy spending hours over curled up under a blanket and wishing it would never end.
I have tons of ideas. I think them up constantly. Great premises. Conflicts. Characters etc. I used to go to sleep at night thinking up what would happen next on my favourite tv shows or write a sequel in my head to a book I'd just read. When Charles and Diana got married I was about 5 years old and I can remember using them as characters in a story in my mind.
I am good with words. I write good poetry as endorsed by some quite accomplished academic/writer people I know, studied literature at uni and enjoy crafting sentences for various purposes such as scathing letters to politicians, speeches at weddings etc.
I just don't seem to have what it takes to convert all this into chapters. I once went from full-time work to part-time at the same company so I could write but nothing happenned. My personality in all sorts of areas is the opposite of organised and self-disciplined. So even if I am correct in thinking I have some potential I would be struggling like swimming against the tide of my personality. I thought perhaps my creativity would have been best used for some short form like advertising but I wouldn't want to promote products I didn't ethically agree with.
I've thought of dictating instead of typing, collaborating with a friend etc etc wondering if there is a method that suits my personality.
Sometimes I'm scared that ideas I have for 'serious novels' seem to be extremely dark and depressing. I want to make readers feel good at the end of the day.
Recently I've been thinking I should just get with reality. I'm 33 this year. I am not going to be a writer. I should free myself from the guilt of not fulfilling my potential and from the disappointment of failing to make my dream a reality. I should redefine myself some other way.
Then I wonder should I just give it one final go, hire a babysitter put every trick of internal and external self-discipline I can muster to work and set myself a deadline and try to break through whatever that barrier is?
So. What is the verdict? Give up or go on? Honest opinions please.
Hosanna, you have some points that need to be addressed directly. Please bear with me, because I can't seem to master the art of using the quotes function on the board.
QUOTE: I just don't seem to have what it takes to convert all this into chapters.
From the tone of your entire post, you seem to be in the midst of a perpetual brainstorm.
WRITE DOWN YOUR IDEAS! In your computer, onto index cards which you can keep in a little recipe box, or whatever, just don't try to remember them ALL at once.
At the moment, nothing is flowing into chapter form, but it is NOT the end of the world. Get your ideas down on paper, into your computer or whatever might work for you - it sounds like you have a river of ideas coming at you in spring thaw phase, and you need to let that river flow BEFORE you attempt to try to navigate it.
Quote: My personality in all sorts of areas is the opposite of organised and self-disciplined.
Janny herself has mentioned what a colossal task it was to gather up all her bits and scraps of notes so that she could begin the monumental task of writing WoLaS. A degree of chaos, I'm sure even she would agree, is the essense of creativity.
Self-discipline comes with practice, just like learning to ride a bike or type faster.
Don't approach your writing as a bothersome chore. Think of it instead as treating yourself. "Oh, boy, I got everything done around the house, the family is fed, the animals have been walked, now it's time for ME to have some FUN!!"
QUOTE: I've thought of dictating instead of typing, collaborating with a friend etc etc wondering if there is a method that suits my personality.
Get yourself a cheap little recorder and try that method. You could then type out the story yourself, or hire someone to do it for you. There are people who work from home who make a living doing transcriptions of all sorts of things.
I don't have any sage advice for collaboration, sadly, because I have never done it myself. Janny, however, HAS done so, successfully, with Raymond E. Feist, on the Empire series.
I would tell you to try voice recognition software, but I don't know what the cost is like, and there are some serious bugs to work out of the system - people like my brother cannot make themselves understood to that software.
QUOTE: Sometimes I'm scared that ideas I have for 'serious novels' seem to be extremely dark and depressing. I want to make readers feel good at the end of the day.
There are folks who LOVE what you might call dark and depressing. Stephen King has made quite a profitable living primarily as a horror novelist - love his work though I do, it is NOT exactly lightweight or happy. Yet when he puts out a new book, people line up to buy it, that simple.
It will depend upon your individual reader to take away whether s/he is happy and feels good at the end of your story. Some of Shakespeare's greatest works are tragedies, and yet, I have never heard of anyone trying to change the endings, even the movies. How much more powerful is the ending of Romeo and Juliet, even though they both die?
Of course, if the source material distresses you, brainstorm further and lighten it up somehow. Turn one or more of the situations on their ears, and make it lighter in tone, either through humor, or finding the silver lining in the dark cloud for the character or the situation. Don't go for the sappy, cliched Hollywood ending, try for something that is satisfying to you.
Remember, at first, you are writing for YOU. YOU have to be happy with what you have written. When you have something in hand you are happy with, ask someone who HAS been published what to do next. I have not had the privelege. Yet.
QUOTE: Recently I've been thinking I should just get with reality. I'm 33 this year. I am not going to be a writer.
Toss this talk, right now, into the trash - or, if you have a garbage disposal, turn on the water, hit the switch and scream those last three sentences into it. Let your family think you have gone a little nuts for the moment.
There. Feel better?
Make some time in your day, maybe even as little as an hour, and just sit yourself down to write or brainstorm. If necessary, think of it as a hobby to begin with, much like some people like Sudoku or knitting. Like anything else, practice makes perfect.
As you do this, it should get easier and easier to produce something.
As Janny herself said in her excellent post above, THROW OUT THE CRITIC!! You CANNOT create and destroy at the same time. Those are two completely opposite forces that will have you tearing out your hair, and giving up.
To paraphrase Sandtiger Jana, the initial draft does not have to be perfect, it just has to be DONE.
Myself, I am 41, and I have wanted to be a writer, as mentioned, since I was about 13. At the moment, I am disabled and I can't get a job because potential employers take one look at the wheelchair and that is that. I want to do SOMETHING, and I know that I can, at least, write.
What recently kicked my behind is that the younger sister of one of my best friends just got herself published AND is pretty high on the sales list for romance novels. It is for a series of 8 books; two of which are already out, the third is due in September, the fourth is due next February (I think) and she is currently working on 5 and 6 simultaneously, because the events in both are occurring at just the same time.
http://www.jeanjohnson.com if you are interested
Hosanna - you can't dictate where your creativity takes you - it is, of itself, free - and you have to free it to see where it leads.
If everything you write turns dark or depressing - well - that could be great tension!!! The question is, where does it LEAD? If the ending is just plain downbeat, well WRITE IT ANYHOW, get it out of your system, then see what follows....it may not be what you think. Sometimes the best books get very dire, but wow you with an incredible ending.
Some people read or watch grim stuff because they FEEL that inside, and a book or movie is a safe way to express that fear and play it out. Get rid of the emotional overload in a contained explosion....
you won't know what you have unless you tell that story - and it's never your critic, or society's do's and don'ts that recognize a great work - the work itself speaks for itself.
Third, Last, writing need not be for anyone else but YOU - if that's the way you want it, to play for the thrill in your head, but when you decide to Make It Serious by writing it down, and it becomes drudge - maybe the "fun" isn't in the work, it's in the internal invention.
Surely, yes, if you want to grant somebody else the priviledge or the opportunity of sharing your idea, you have to get the discipline to write it down.
What I'd ask yourself is, what is so SCARY about making it real? Is it that Now You Will Be Seen? That Now It Is Concrete, somebody may criticise (and yup, brace up, many somebodies will, but not half so many as are kindly polite or enthusiastic about your idea, and THEY are the ones your idea is for, not the curmudgeons).
Or is it that your mind zips into a "forbidden zone" of dark or -- name the bugaboo yourself -- that Somebody or Some Institution told you that you should Never attempt -- what doctrine were you fed that said that adventure was "off limits?" - people try to save you from your "negative emotions" all the time, but -- and truly, the only negative one you have is the one never examined or CORRECTLY expressed. Know yourself is basic stuff... and well, Writing's pretty safe. You aren't going to harm anyone. Nobody need keep reading a story who violently does not want to travel by way of that route. Anyone whose sensibilities are threatened can quite safely put the book down.
So where's the threat? If you answer that, I think you'll be halfway there. Understanding your own internal resistances to your own creativity - dark or light - is paramount to getting down to work. Shoving down the "darker" bits doesn't exorcise them - it just hides the morass.
Whose dialogue are you playing? If you feel guilty for "not writing" or "living up to your potential" whose dialogue is that???
Find out. Don't risk your happiness on a murky issue you never troubled to examine.
Wow. Thank you so much Blue and Janny for your thorough responses. Taking it point by point like that Blue was really helpful for me to see what I was saying in a new light. The primal scream system is very invigorating too I must say!!!
And Janny, you've honed in on a sensitive issue. I need to explore that side of things without prejudice and wherever it may lead. 'negative emotions not correctly expressed' may be desperately trying to emerge through writing if I will only let them. I really value the insights from both of you and will be going over your posts many, many times.
You're quite welcome, Hosanna. I have done LOTS of things in my time that people have viewed as nuts, but those who know me well shrug, and those who don't either back off or strike up a conversation with me.
I did make one mistake - the URL for my friend's official website is actually http://jeanjohnson.net, not .com
One point I forgot to touch on - you mention near the end of the post about hiring a babysitter. Have you thought of your kids being your first audience? Even if it is something like using a character familiar to them from a TV show or movie - for example, you tell them a story of Harry Potter, or SpongeBob, or something they're familiar with, and give it your own unique twist.
Make your kids themselves the heroes of a story. Rescuing a pet from a meanie, discovering a treasure in the back yard, or finding an elevator to the moon in their closet - whatever.
What about characters and situations of your own creation being the star of a story you tell your kids?
Janny makes great points in her post about the deep, dark and forbidden, so I am not even going to try to elaborate further. My feelings reading deep, dark stories is, "Well, at least the crap hit the fan for THAT poor schmuck instead of me!"
I have sometimes had "dark" episodes myself when writing, and I have to back off a little. I just had to "cauterize" chapter 4 of what I am working on now, because it was getting TOO dark - I was trying to make a point that just got out of hand. Don't be afraid of things like that, though.
As I suggested to Isla, who started this thread, DON'T destroy "unsuitable" bits - banish them to a "didn't work" file. There might be room later on in the story for them - I was REALLY proud of the way something turned out in Chapter 2, but it was WAY too soon in the story for it, so I cut and pasted it to the "didn't work" file, to save for the time when it WILL work, which is when the story is building up to its finish.
There were bits in Chapter 3 which did not seem to fit, and got sent to the "didn't work" file. However, I re-read chapter 3, and found I had cut TOO much out and reinserted the excised bits.
I can't speak for anyone else, of course, but I'm sure many other writers get an idea for something that works out really well, but too soon in the story.
I read lots of the messages that come across from this website, but seldom have anything to contribute, but just wanted to share my recent experience about being a writer.
When it comes to writing, I've been talking about doing some writing since I was in my last couple of years of high school and through college, which has been over twenty years ago now. You do the math. I actually had a short piece of poetry published in a school collection at the time and then stopped writing. No real reason, I just stopped. I'd tried the NaNoWriMo a couple of times over the last couple of years, but couldn't seem to commit to sitting down and just writing. That all changed about 10 weeks ago.
I changed jobs and moved myself across the country, leaving my wife and children behind, and found myself in front of the computer one night just staring at the screen. There were some projects I had set for myself while I had the time away, but writing wasn't one of them. After staring at the screen for a half hour one night, not really seeing anything, I opened my word processor and started typing. I've managed to generate a couple of pages of text about three to four nights a week in the evenings over that time with some editing time thrown in. Mostly just short stories for me, or some things for my wife that I have been promising her I was going to do for years. I'd said to her numerous times over the last 15 years that I'd like to do some writing and she would say, well why don't you and while you're at it, could you do something for me. Well I finally did.
I have no intention, at that this point, of publishing them, but it has been cathartic for me to say the least. Seeing the words on the page has been enough for me and my wife has been supportive of most of the material I have generated thus far. Some of it has been significantly different than what I would have expected I would be writing. The first started with just one sentence that had struck me a few weeks earlier and then took a 180 degree turn after the first paragraph, evolving into something completely different than what I thought I would be writing.
I have a couple of pieces I have started that I am about half way through and just hated the way they were coming out, until I read Janny's note the other day. At least I think it was her note, if not apologies. I can't locate it at the moment, but the gist of it was "You can't create and destroy at the same time". I had been putting off going back to them for a couple of weeks, but now I think I am ready to attempt them again, taking that thought with me back into the stories.
Someone on here said they were 33 and were never going to be writer. Frankly, I don't think I could have generated some of the material I have, until now and I'm older than they are. I may never be a commercially published writer, but you know what, I am a writer and that realization, at least for me, has made all the difference.
Bill thank you. Your story is very touching. Congratulations on your belated authorship.
Blue In the first days after my baby was born I started jotting down notes for a series of children's books. Perhaps I should fish them out and DO something with them ;-)
Re the dark, depressing stuff.
I used to have a recurring nightmare as a child. It was one of those dreams you have when you are half-conscious. I tried and tried to explain it to my parents and was always too upset to fully express what it was like because it wasn't a dream with a storyline but more a single visual and a feeling. I just had the sense of something horrible about to happen or coming closer and closer. It was a sort of buzzing nothingness like static on a television screen. Later in life I started to associate this memory with chaos (my star sign is virgo). A few years ago now I wondered for the first time "what if you had tuned in the channel". I have never found a safe way to explore that question and the potential it holds. I've wondered if some form of hypnotherapy would help. Anyway, it explains a bit more about me.