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Getting the words down. posted 09 April 2004 in Writing TipsGetting the words down. by Euron, Commoner

I've been into writing (at least in theory!) for a while and I'm always interested in how people go about actually getting their stories onto paper - habits and tricks to avoid the agony of writer's block etc.

At first I used to feel quite a lot of pressure to make my first draft as good as I possibly could. I'd type a sentence and then fiddle with it for a while until I liked it. This just didn't work at all as it made my volume of output depressingly feeble and it also made the whole process painful (and therefore very easy to avoid with excuses).

Then I read somewhere that it can be much easier to try to separate the creative aspect of writing (coming up with ideas) from the analytical (making it all work and sound good). This made enormous sense to me as these two ways of thinking are really different and I had been trying to do them at the same time.

So now, for my first draft, I just write whatever comes into my head - almost deliberately making it bad! No editing. I use a pen and paper as well (condemning myself to some massively dull typing later) to avoid the temptation of easy editing. Obviously I still try to write well, but even if I know that a sentence is poor and has zero chance of surviving as I'm writing it, I try not to worry too much. If there's a tricky part I'm not quite sure how to phrase - I just write straight through it and worry later. For me, it makes the process more fun and I'm able to produce quite a lot of words to bolster my morale!

Obviously, many of those words need to be smothered in their beds when I look at them again later, but a lot can be polished up. And a few emerge just as I want them first time, perhaps in a way I wouldn't have achieved if I'd been using the stiffer old technique.

When I go back later with my analytical hat on, it's much easier and more fun to assess something that already exists.

Anyway, I'd be interested to hear if other people write in a similar way, or about any other habits people have to help them get down to the business of writing. view post


Getting the words down. posted 09 April 2004 in Writing TipsGetting the words down. by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

What usually happens to me is this:

I start with an idea I feel is brilliant, and I'm totally pumped about it. I spend a few days or even weeks thinking about it and fiddling with it, then start writing. I get a couple of typed pages into it, take a break, and come back and read it. Sometimes I think it's okay and sometimes I think it's crap, but I never really like it. Then I pick up a book and do some reading and am blown away by the authors writing. I feel there is no way I could do my storyline and world justice, so I just stop writing and stick to reading.

That is the general pattern, and I don't really write much because I always feel that way and It just isn't worth it. My favorite part is coming up with plots and worlds anyway. view post


Getting the words down. posted 09 April 2004 in Writing TipsGetting the words down. by Kellais, Commoner

Hey Sovin Nai

Why don't you show us something of your writing and/or of your world-building (documents, maps etc.) . I'd really like to see some of it...

Kellais view post


Getting the words down. posted 10 April 2004 in Writing TipsGetting the words down. by Malarion, Candidate

Sorry to hear about your dispair, Sovin. Imagining is a fun bit about the writing process, and the easiest...sometimes. Given practise, however, I think you'll eventually find that the writing part will eventually grow to fill that role. I was the same as ou once, completely embittered against my own style, but keeping at it makes a real diference. Type away a complete pile of rubbish, by all means, and then bin it. After that you'll find you've stepped up a league. Writing, like everything, is not easy. Practice makes perfect.

And so I'll add my agreement to what Euron said. Get it all down, and then go back and edit. If you edit entirely as you write you'll never get going.
Also, and this is important in Fantasy writing. Get your world right. Get your story right. Work..work...work...work on it. It will take an unimaginable amount of dedication to succeed.

In my case, I've been working on it since I was 10. I'm now 27 and I'm still learning.

Never give in. view post


Getting the words down. posted 12 April 2004 in Writing TipsGetting the words down. by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

Thanks. I'll work on digging some of it up. I'm not sure how much I've kept. view post


Getting the words down. posted 13 December 2004 in Writing TipsGetting the words down. by Fell, Peralogue

I generally work by point-form. I work as a graphic designer and did some earlier studying through the National Screen Institute of Canada, so my approach is oriented towards an always-overall ideal or lesson to be learned. I think story is one of the greatest mediums for conveying new information and ideas — as you can play with comparitive and expositive elements, as well as human drama, to really get people into a new frame of mind, or to share new ideas with them. Which is definitely why I dig Bakker's Prince of Nothing series now.

I essentially build up a philosophy to convey, some sort of "moral" of the story, then run abstractions of situtations that would help demonstrate and educate the readers through expositions or comparisons, as stated above. I can relate to them in real life, then wrap them in a fantastic setting or world which would server to greatly aid in the storytelling, à la Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Once I've got some situations plotted out that will aid the overall point of the tale, I can begin to fill in with characters, and they just sort of intuitively fall into place. Following the best design and Joseph Campbell's work on story and the Hero's Journey, you generally want a character that can be relative to the reader, in affect allowing the character to become sympathetically bonded to your espected readers. Thus, when the character undergoes strife and subsequent change and metamorphosis, the reader can share an aspect of this spiritual and intellectual exercise.

I believe it's the storytellers' role to bring about slivers of growth and the opportunity for change in his or her readers by stretching the limits of perception and experience — to live vicariously via the fictitious lives of these abstractions.

I tweak characters in my mind for months, and flesh them out accordingly. I hate clichés and refuse to ever use the good versus evil schtick. There is no such thing as evil, there are only characters in pain, and the levels of perception which you allow characters to see that in others, and to react to that, will be dictated by just how narrow-minded and naïve your characters are to the rest of their world.

And you can never write a character smarter or more profound than you are as a person. view post


Getting the words down. posted 07 February 2005 in Writing TipsGetting the words down. by Antenox, Commoner

Firstly, I CANNOT write at home. I just can't. I've tried and tried, but there are too many distractions. Internet, television, food, you name it. I am very easily distracted.

So I usually take my laptop out to some isolated place with virtually no interactive technology. Most commonly, this is a coffee shop (I like Borders' Cafe, personally), or, while I'm at school, waiting outside of my classroom. I can then just stick my iPod earbuds into my ears and listen to some songs (with NO English lyrics!) and start pounding at my keyboard. I sometimes also write just before bedtime. For some reason, sleep deprivation gets my creative juices flowing, although most of the time those juices are rancid and quite unusable by the next morning (forcing a revision).

Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. I've found that my writing reflects my current emotions, which are themselves reflected by the music I'm listening to, so I've made up maybe two dozen playlists labeled "Fantasy-War" or "Fantasy-Epic" or "Fantasy-Despairing."

Now, as for actually writing, I am the kind of person who goes over the last sentence I wrote ten times before moving onto the next, so I progress at a snail's pace (about 300 completed words a day). That's improved somewhat, though; now I review and revise my writing every chapter instead of every sentence. <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: -->

I've taken to the practice of jotting down IMMEDIATELY any ideas that come into my head, either on a post-it or on my computer or on my own hand, if I have nothing else to write on. If not, I will either forget it or replace it with another idea in a couple of hours. Now I keep all of my spur-of-the-moment ideas (including short descriptions of scenes that just pop into my head but which don't have any kind of context whatsoever) in a Word file on my computer. view post


Getting the words down. posted 14 February 2005 in Writing TipsGetting the words down. by RevCasy, Candidate

For some reason, sleep deprivation gets my creative juices flowing, although most of the time those juices are rancid and quite unusable by the next morning (forcing a revision).


Oddly enough, sleep deprivation sometimes helps me when writing as well. This is particularly true of poetry.

I have a hypothesis about why this is true.

If I think of myself as a writer at all, then it is as a fiction writer. However I produce far more poetry than fiction. So, I have some experience with writing in a poetic way. I've been struggling (and mostly failing) to write poetry for 15 or so years!

From what I can tell, writing poetry (in a poem's initial stages anyway) requires a person to connect meaning with language in a novel way. This is much easier to accomplish with intuition and a wandering mind than it is to "reason" one's way into. In fact, it may be impossible to reason one's way into poetry.

A sleeping or sleep-deprived mind is better at connecting things that would not ordinarily be connected. One need only experience strange thoughts as one lies in bed on the edge of sleep to see what I mean by this. And dreams are theorized to be nothing more than one's mind making up stories to fit around the irrational connections made by the random firing of nuerons in a sleeping brain.

Or to put it another way, lack of sleep, or a close approach to sleep makes it easier for one to temporarily abandon reason, and to make irrational connections while intuiting a possible novel link between them.

To give a hackneyed example, "love is a rose." Huh? To say that the painful emotion commonly referred to as love is the same as the reproductive system of a plant is, in a word, irrational. Only the poet's intuition (or in this case, our long experience with the cliche) allows the connection to be made.

So, maybe being sleepy makes one more poetic?

In any case, I wouldn't recommend editing while sleep deprived, as that is a whole other can of worms. <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->

Edited: new and improved. view post


Getting the words down. posted 29 April 2006 in Writing TipsGetting the words down. by Anasurimbor Bob, Commoner

Hi guys, I'm new here (c:

I'm a &quot;writer in theory&quot; too. I'm a copywriter, so I have to write stuff every day...but when I finally get a few moments to sit down and work on my own ideas and stuff...I don't get anything done!

It's not that I don't have ideas. I have heaps of them - more than I know what to do with. It's not that I'm lazy - I have pages of scribbled notes, character descriptions, plot ideas, and stuff.

But what's really killing me is getting the first sentence of the actual book - not a plan, not a description - the actual book - down on paper. Well, screen (c:

I just don't know where to start! It's almost like the task ahead is just too big for me! Aaargh!

Does anyone else have this problem? view post


Getting the words down. posted 08 April 2007 in Writing TipsGetting the words down. by Moigle90, Commoner

Euron,

thats a really good idea. I'm going to do that right now, thanks alot view post


Getting the words down. posted 11 June 2008 in Writing TipsGetting the words down. by Callan S., Auditor

Not that I know a solution (I'm quite writers blocked myself), but from reading the thread, here's a hypothetical solution (I'll have to go off and try it myself, after typing it).

Forget trying to acheive anything. Write down one word, in large letters, that you just find fun to look at, in some way.

The key to this is that writing pays off instantly, if you write a word that's fun. You write, you get instant pay off. This starts to set up a possitive feedback loop.

Now, while thinking about how that word is fun, see if you can find another word that is fun to just look at. They don't have to form a sentence, but if they start to form a fun sentence, even better.

Finally, limit your writing. Yes, limit! Set a number of words that you will write - no, not an amount your trying to write! It's an amount at which point you stop the session of writing! Again this is about positive feedback. If you keep on writing and writing and writing, you will definately hit some suck point. But with a limit, you are more likely to hit the limit on a high note - this will mean your writing sessions are more likely to end on a posstive note. This trains yourself to like writing more and more, because it always seems to pay off instantly.

As I said, I should go practice what I suggest, myself :O view post


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