Writing is hard—not something anyone in the group needs to be told, I’m sure. I think we all face our own writing-related challenges, be they finding the time to do it, finding the mental concentration, overcoming our particular weak points, or just getting a dang character right… It’s a mind game we play with ourselves, and we don’t always win.
One of the challenges I’ve struggled with for a long time is a lack of focus. It’s always made writing difficult for me, and since I’ve become a Real Proper Adult with two jobs, it hasn’t gotten any easier. Several months ago I was given a tentative diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder, something I probably would have gotten decades ago if I hadn’t been homeschooled by a mother who rejected the notion of ADD despite my obvious learning difficulties. It’s helped clarify why lack of focus is such a prominent part of my writing life (and life in general). If I can’t concentrate, I can’t write, or at least, I certainly can’t write well. When I do write, I find myself jumping back and forth between, and within, House of the Wolves and Rosedawn, producing bits of story so fragmented they’re not much use to anyone but me.
What kinds of issues do y’all really struggle with when writing?
There have been many times when I have put aside some time for writing, cleared the decks, when the wife was asleep or out, and then sat down only to be confronted by a blank mind. There have been times when I try to force it, but I’ve learned that it is better to close Word and open a game or a book. If it ain’t there, it ain’t there; might as well relax and have fun until it comes back.
Writing is hard, and writing well (is “goodly” a word yet?) is harder. For me, inspiration strikes at odd moments and one challenge is to somehow capture that inspiration (e.g., by writing it down) for later when I can write. When I’m in the Zone, the writing just flows, and in fact one of my troubles is my fingers being able to keep up with the torrent pouring out of my brain. People like me are why editors exist. But unfortunately the Zone seems to be at best a sporadic state, whose presence is impossible to predict. I will say that this group has helped me tremendously to develop a reader’s voice in my head, one that pokes my writing with questions and observations.
I will say that this group has also helped balance that other voice in my head, the one that sometimes declares my scribblings to be pure Shakespeare, and other times crap not worthy of lining a bird cage. And I would say that your writing is interesting and worthy of pursuit, Madame — I enjoy your writing style and your story-telling style. Your piece here on female characters was also interesting, so I want to see more.
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The unpredictability of the Zone is one of the reasons I rarely try to set aside time for writing (another is that I’m bad at planning). I just write when I feel like it or come up with something that *has* to go down. At times, I’ll have an idea that feels like it should put me in the Zone, and it just doesn’t. It’s all trial and error (lots of error).
I’ve also found WFoD useful for balancing inner voices. My judgements of the quality of my writing are often pretty far off from other people’s. There are issues the group has pointed out that I would never have seen on my own, and on the other hand, the group’s feedback has encouraged me to keep working on pieces I didn’t think much of before.
And thank you for those kind words on the things I’ve written. I write in part to share (I think most do), and it’s good to know that others get some enjoyment out of the sharing. I look forward to seeing more of your work as well.
I struggle with forcing myself to sit down at the keyboard regularly. I struggle with staying sat behind the keyboard. I struggle with pushing text onto the page. I struggle with characters who are not, apparently, my creations but are it seems their own people (at least it seems that way to me; they may not seem that way to readers). I struggle with the fact that writing – just the act of putting words together in a persistent text, never mind narratology or even story-telling – is hard. Like D. Parker, I’m a “hate writing, love having written” writer. I wish I were a Stephen King “Gotta write, can’t help it,” writer.
More than one shrink has shrunk from the task of figuring it out.
What I don’t struggle with is the apparently widespread feeling many writers have that their stuff sucks. I think if I felt that (generally, not universally – obviously I’ve penned my share of howlers) I’d give up all the struggles listed above and take up golf.
“No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” – Dr. Samuel Johnson
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I empathize with Parker quite often as well, although there are times when I do enjoy the process. Sometimes I get an adrenaline rush from writing; other times I get a headache, but there’s always a sense of relief from having gotten *something* down. Mostly I write for the good times, the bad times be damned.