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Thread: sometimes I s*ck & sometimes I do ok?

  1. #1
    Now is the winter of my discontent. haunted's Avatar
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    sometimes I s*ck & sometimes I do ok?

    Why is it that somedays--like today--I read what I've written and know for sure it s*cks. Then other days, I get so excited, thinking it's pretty good. I've had otherstell me they do the same thing.....I'm still new at this, so would love to hear your thoughts! Seriously though, makes me wonder if this is why all those famous writers killed themselves!

  2. #2
    Inappropriate smiley INCOMINGGGGGG! kaitiepaige17's Avatar
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    You do this. I do this. We all do this.

    I find that personally this happens when I've been working on something for a really long time and begin getting bored with it. When that happens I usually start on something else. Hence my millions of WIPs. Keep writing, it's completely normal!
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  3. #3
    Now is the winter of my discontent. haunted's Avatar
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    good to hear

    Good to hear that! I guess being in doubt makes me keep trying to improve at least!
    Quote Originally Posted by kaitiepaige17 View Post
    You do this. I do this. We all do this.

    I find that personally this happens when I've been working on something for a really long time and begin getting bored with it. When that happens I usually start on something else. Hence my millions of WIPs. Keep writing, it's completely normal!

  4. #4
    The moving hand, having writ... AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    You're in good company. Every writer I know here and elsewhere has days or weeks or more during which they're sure they suck, big-time. That the well-received first book was a fluke and they can't do it again. That it was a big mistake and the fraud that is their talent will be revealed.

    All you can do is make it as good as you can before any eyes but yours see it, and listen when others tell you what they think is still wrong with it.

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  5. #5
    Now is the winter of my discontent. haunted's Avatar
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    Great! At least I don't feel alone with it! You totally described it by the way... wish there was a "like" button onthese boards...

  6. #6
    That hairy-handed gent
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    You're in good company. Every writer I know here and elsewhere has days or weeks or more years or decades or millennia during which they're sure they suck, big-time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    That the well-received first book was a fluke and they can't do it again.
    What "well-received first book"?

    caw
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    "Frankly, Toad, I don't give a damn."

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by haunted View Post
    Why is it that somedays--like today--I read what I've written and know for sure it s*cks. Then other days, I get so excited, thinking it's pretty good. I've had otherstell me they do the same thing.....I'm still new at this, so would love to hear your thoughts! Seriously though, makes me wonder if this is why all those famous writers killed themselves!
    So don't read what you've written. I learned a long, long time ago that what I think of my own writing doesn't matter. I sell writing I think sucks dead bunnies, and I get nothing but rejections for writing I think is the very best I've ever done.

    I just don't worry about it. I write it the best way I can, but I don't even try to judge it. As one famous SF editor said, The writer's job is to write it, and the editor's job is to judge it, so do your job and let the editor do his.

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW MsJudy's Avatar
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    It's an important part of the process. If you always think your writing is beautiful, you're never going to get any better. There have to be those moments constantly pushing us to work harder, learn more, improve our skills.

    My favorite example of this is a quote from a picture book author/illustrator in his 70s who had just won a major award. The journalist asked what he was working, and he said he hadn't started a new project yet. In the meantime, he was practicing his drawing, because, you know, you can never draw well enough.

    That drive to constantly improve is key to good art, IMHO.

    The hard part, I think, is learning to separate the two kinds of "this sucks" feelings. Sometimes, it's just insecurity. You think everything you've ever done sucks. The inner critic becomes a monster. You have to learn your own strategy for getting past those moments. Like James Ritchie says, the best thing to do with those feelings is just ignore them and keep writing.

    But sometimes, it's your good taste telling you that what you've done isn't as good as you want it to be. I think it's very important to learn to listen to that voice, and keep polishing your skills. Don't be satisfied with mediocre if you're capable of excellence.
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  9. #9
    Inappropriate smiley INCOMINGGGGGG! kaitiepaige17's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    So don't read what you've written. I learned a long, long time ago that what I think of my own writing doesn't matter. I sell writing I think sucks dead bunnies, and I get nothing but rejections for writing I think is the very best I've ever done.

    I just don't worry about it. I write it the best way I can, but I don't even try to judge it. As one famous SF editor said, The writer's job is to write it, and the editor's job is to judge it, so do your job and let the editor do his.
    So would you rather base your writing on what others think about it? I'm having the same dilemma. I wrote a rough draft several years ago that many people read and LOVED but I never got any offers from agents. There's a fine line between writing for yourself and writing to sell the book.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaitiepaige17 View Post
    So would you rather base your writing on what others think about it? I'm having the same dilemma. I wrote a rough draft several years ago that many people read and LOVED but I never got any offers from agents. There's a fine line between writing for yourself and writing to sell the book.


    I think all writers have to base the quality of their writing on what others think about it, whether it's editors, agents, or general readers. We all want to improve, but only others can tell us whether we're any good.

    But here's the thing, I always write for myself. I write the kind of story I want to write, and I write it the way I want it written. Only others, however, can tell me whether I've succeeded, and when something I absolutely love doesn't sell, I have to assume I got it wrong, and I move on.

    It's the other side of the question that, I think, matters most. It's what do you do when you firmly believe something you wrote stinks on ice, but see no way of improving it? I follow Heinlein's Rules and submit it, anyway, and far more often than not, it sells. Sometimes it draws praise from all over the place, and makes me a lot of money.

    So, I think it sucks, but it sells, readers love it, and it makes me good money. I have to assume this means it was a lot better than I thought. This also means I have to assume I'm often just as wrong when I think something I write is great.

    So I've learned to not worry about it. I write the story I want to write, and write it the way I think it reads best. Then I put it in submission and move on to the next project.

  11. #11
    That hairy-handed gent
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaitiepaige17 View Post
    I wrote a rough draft several years ago that many people read and LOVED but I never got any offers from agents.
    If you were sending a rough draft to agents, that might explain why it produced no offers.

    caw
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    "Frankly, Toad, I don't give a damn."

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  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW Ken's Avatar
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    ... usually for me if I suspect something I've written isn't okay, even if it's just for a moment, then it really isn't okay for some reason or other. The story may be okay overall but there's something that just isn't quite working. So having doubts, at least for me, is a red flag that something isn't quite right and in need of a fix. Or, at worst, that the entire project needs to be scrapped. It happens. That's just me though.

  13. #13
    Inappropriate smiley INCOMINGGGGGG! kaitiepaige17's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    If you were sending a rough draft to agents, that might explain why it produced no offers.

    caw
    I'm not very sure what constitutes a rough draft or a complete first draft. My first drafts are usually pretty complete and free of errors. I try to write as well as possible so I don't spend months on revisions.
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  14. #14
    That hairy-handed gent
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaitiepaige17 View Post
    I'm not very sure what constitutes a rough draft or a complete first draft. My first drafts are usually pretty complete and free of errors. I try to write as well as possible so I don't spend months on revisions.
    "Pretty complete and free of errors" does not necessarily equate to being at a publishable level. Not many writers hit homeruns with first drafts, no matter how free of technical errors they might be.

    caw
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  15. #15
    Inappropriate smiley INCOMINGGGGGG! kaitiepaige17's Avatar
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    Well everyone has their own way of writing. I've only ever sent out one query letter for one daft and got a request for a full. That's when I was a senior in high school and very inexperienced. Hopefully my way of doing things has improved since then
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    ... usually for me if I suspect something I've written isn't okay, even if it's just for a moment, then it really isn't okay for some reason or other. The story may be okay overall but there's something that just isn't quite working. So having doubts, at least for me, is a red flag that something isn't quite right and in need of a fix. Or, at worst, that the entire project needs to be scrapped. It happens. That's just me though.
    I think crapping anything, ever, is a serious mistake. Heinlein's Rules all the way.

    But I'd be more likely to suspect something is seriously wrong if I thought everything was fine. I know I've never written a story that didn't have flaws. Even when I sell a story to a top magazine, I know it still has flaws, even if I can't see them.

    And this much I know, if you abandon a project, or if you fail to submit it, you have no way of knowing how good or bad it really is, and no way of learning from the mistake.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    If you were sending a rough draft to agents, that might explain why it produced no offers.

    caw
    I missed that. But, yeah, that could be the problem. I sold the first draft of my first novel, but I didn't know you were supposed to write more than one draft.

  18. #18
    Now is the winter of my discontent. haunted's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the good advice. I also sold the first draft of my non-fiction. I just know how much I have yet to learn! Especially with fiction. I also edit, edit, edit as i go, tweaking and rewriting, so Katie, i understand where you're coming from on that end of things.

    And yes, the inner critic is a monster and has been for many years...though it does tend to make me strive for perfection, it's also hard on me! Especially when tackling anything new--one always wants to be 'the best' at everything instantly, which is of course, impossible...

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    I think crapping anything, ever, is a serious mistake. Heinlein's Rules all the way.

    But I'd be more likely to suspect something is seriously wrong if I thought everything was fine. I know I've never written a story that didn't have flaws. Even when I sell a story to a top magazine, I know it still has flaws, even if I can't see them.

    And this much I know, if you abandon a project, or if you fail to submit it, you have no way of knowing how good or bad it really is, and no way of learning from the mistake.
    ... you're on a different level then me with writing. Better, in short. So for you that probably works fine and if I ever get there myself it may too. Am making progress and am not after perfection. A story just has to do what it needs to do. I'm not quite there yet with that. When I am, your approach will probably work fine and I won't bother about flaws at that point as they won't be critical or anything. Hope that makes some sense.

  20. #20
    can totally spell Brobdinrgnagrian buzhidao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    I think crapping anything, ever, is a serious mistake.
    Crapping is absolutely necessary.

    But yes. Perception's a bitch and wobbles often.

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW madrynea's Avatar
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    I'm glad I'm not alone with this feeling. And I agree there is a difference between the voice that tells you something is seriously wrong and continues to do so until you fix it, and then the voice that will occasionally tell you everything you have ever written sucks and you won't amount to anything. The former is usually right, for me. The latter peeps up when I've had too little sleep or food or there are other things on my mind. Or generally in the beginning of a new project. It's really hard to know in a given situation which of the two is speaking, though.

    (Aren't you glad we writers can talk about voices speaking to us without being locked up?)

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    ... you're on a different level then me with writing. Better, in short. So for you that probably works fine and if I ever get there myself it may too. Am making progress and am not after perfection. A story just has to do what it needs to do. I'm not quite there yet with that. When I am, your approach will probably work fine and I won't bother about flaws at that point as they won't be critical or anything. Hope that makes some sense.
    I had the same thoughts and the same approach with the first short story I ever wrote. It isn't about experience, or the stage you're at as a writer, it's all about Heinlein's Rules. Writers who follow them religiously, all five, almost always succeed to some degree. Writers who fail to follow them almost always fail.

    Read this, and believe every word of it: http://www.sfwriter.com/ow05.htm

    Robert J. Sawyer has won both the Hugo and the Nebula, and is one heck of a good writer. Believe what he says.

    While not explicitly spelled out in the rules, Heinlein always said that the flawed stories are the ones you must finish, and must submit. You learn to fix flaws by having working editors point them out, and tell you what's wrong, and how to fix it. Maybe only one editor in ten will do this, but that's more than enough.

    If no editor anywhere points out flaws, doesn't tell you what needs fixing and how to fix it, you've learned something else equally important.

    Anyway, read Sawyer's breakdown of these rules, and believe what he says. It matters. These rules turn new writers into pro writers.

  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW Ken's Avatar
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    ... thanks James. Read the rules. Number 3 is particularly applicable. "Tinkering endlessly." And maybe that in turn is due to Number 4: "fear of submission."

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    ... thanks James. Read the rules. Number 3 is particularly applicable. "Tinkering endlessly." And maybe that in turn is due to Number 4: "fear of submission."
    I suspect you're right about that. Many writers commit all sort of sins based on fear of submission.

  25. #25
    Now is the winter of my discontent. haunted's Avatar
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    the 5 or 6 rules

    Thanks James! The rules are great. I personally have followed them all, with some modest success, so maybe that's why. I think I'd add a 7th--if you're waiting on others to help fulfill your dream and it isn't working, just do it yourself. Don't let anything stop you from doing what you really want to do.Life is too short...

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