thesis · writing

Writing and Other Four Letter Words

Because it’s NanoWriMo and because I’m doing a creative writing thesis, I thought we could have a (one-sided) discussion about writing!

How are your novels going? Are they driving you crazy and not always in a good way? Do you have disturbing and intense dreams because the line between fiction and reality has blurred and now you are not sure which world you are inhabiting? Do you feel like you are slightly (or even a lot) psychotic because you carry so many fully formed people around in your mind 24/7? Does it drive you crazy when you cannot pinpoint the exact word that you want and pore over thesauri and dictionaries and other word repositories looking for that word?

You are not alone.

I would not ever be able to finish a book in a month because that’s now how I work. I can’t. It takes me time to think, parse, think, parse, plot and then write. I’m a slow writer and my first drafts are so crappy I call them .5 drafts because they don’t warrant a full number. Really. I write one chapter multiple times even in the first draft because the voice of my main character is elusive and it takes a while for me to completely grasp her. And most of the times I am convinced the chapter sucks and well, I just have to leave it because tinkering with it means I cannot continue with the story and that would be tragic because I will need to graduate at some point.

How do you deal with the insecurity? Because I have found it to be a constant presence. No matter how confident I am about my writing (and I’m not very much), as soon as I read a good book, I feel really awed and then dismayed thinking that I will never be able to emulate the smoothness and poetry of the prose. I’m not going to lie, I’ve annoyed myself several times and have had to smack sense into myself at other points too. Because really, everyone has their own style and while some writers are better than others, it’s a learning process and the more you write, the more you learn and the better you get. Or so I keep telling myself.

I heard Maureen Johnson and Maggie Stiefvater and I don’t know about Stiefvater but Johnson definitely talked about this phase where you feel you suck, your work sucks and everything sucks. Is that normal? Why is it normal? Why can’t we be awesome superspecial snowflakes all the time? Is it because we are creating something? Do all creators feel this way? I wonder if my mother looked at me when I was born and went, “I wonder if I can get a refund…”

I hope not. Heh. I guess it’s important to have a sense of humour about writing because you may really go nuts otherwise.

Good luck to you guys. It may be difficult but remember to have fun writing and I will try to follow my advice.

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3 thoughts on “Writing and Other Four Letter Words

  1. I’m currently in that “I’m writing like shit wtf” phase of being stuck, but I can’t do what I normally do–which is to work on a separate project that I *don’t* write shittily for–because it’s my NaNo novel, and it’s my first, at that. So I’m kinda just toughin’ it out.

    Also, I have a shitastic habit of not outlining or, if I do outline, only listing things that I need to happen in the course of the novel to act as a very vague, very loose guide. (Prime example: my NaNo novel’s outline reads: X and Y end up together. Also, family resolution.) So I use my first drafts (or 0.5 drafts–I like that haha) as “outlines” and improve/build on that for subsequent drafts.

    So you’re not alone, either. ;]

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  2. A pleasure to read. Do not forget some lauded writers hated the material that people loved them for – AA Milne, AC Doyle and JK Rowling have been noted for voicing their distaste for their vehicles to stardom and have all worked hard to promote material they like writing. You cant make people like your material and when they do it could be for seemingly bizarre reasons. Enjoy writing and make money – the two may not be linked, but the choice isn’t yours.

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