Friday, April 10, 2015

Writer Struggles: When Your Story's Not as Good as You Thought It Was


So, I was working on this short story the other day. This brilliant idea just came to me out of nowhere. The ideas were coming to me like crazy, just bouncing around in my head, begging to be written down. So I take out my computer and let my fingers fly over the keyboard.
 
It was wonderful. It usually takes me forever to find that perfect word or phrase, but not this time. The words poured out of me so eloquently. My sentences were strung together so coherently. My ideas just flowed.
 
I was extremely satisfied with myself. After about 30-40 minutes, I stopped. Smiled smugly. As I joined the family for dinner I kept thinking of what I was going to add to my masterpiece, as I wasn't quite finished with it yet. I practically skipped upstairs to get back to my computer to read over it one more time.
 
And...it wasn't as good as I thought it was. It wasn't terrible. It just wasn't the total and utter perfection I had built it up to be in my mind. And that stumped me.

The thing is, our writing can seem a lot better to us as we're writing it. For me, I get so proud of these little snippets of my stories and forget to look at it as a whole.
 
There comes a point where we just need to take a step back and look objectively at our writing. It's then that we begin to see--is this really as amazing as I thought it was?
 
I've made a lot of progress with this since I first started out. It used to be that I would write a story, declare it perfect and want to leave it as is. I pushed away niggles of doubt that tried to tell me, "maybe just one more edit?" I mean, how could I want to change my baby? My masterpiece?
 
Since then, I've learned something about first drafts.

 

Sometimes, they can really, really stink. And that's okay. Like Anne Lamott said, we all have to start somewhere.
 
I think I got off to a pretty good start with my short story. It needs some more work, but I'm willing to put in the effort. The important thing is that we don't give up, even when we don't end up with what we first had in mind.
 
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My purpose for creating Writer Struggles was just to provide a little help and encouragement to fellow writers. I'll be completely honest when I say that writing is just a hobby for me, and I don't pretend to be an expert. I look at a lot of other teen bloggers and it amazes me how much more they write than I do. Still, I know something of the craft. :) But mainly, I just want to hear YOUR opinion on the topic. And if I'm of any help, that's great too!
 
So, what about you? Have you ever experienced this struggle? Is it hard to push on when you look back on your story and it's not what you thought it was?

24 comments:

  1. I don't write so I don't know about the writing thing but sometimes in my comics when I look back I find that they aren't as well finished as I thought they were.I find so many mistakes and so many mistakes.Sometimes it's hard to unsee the mistake once I see them. :P

    Neal Kind
    Daily Diaries

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    1. I see that with my own art, too. But just like with writing, you can always make it better if you keep on trying. Practice makes perfect, right? Each comic you draw is honing your skills and making you better at what you do. :)

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  2. Yup. Yup. Yup.
    I totally understand this feeling, and that is why I'm banning myself from reading over my Camp NaNo novel until I finish it. Because if I take a break to read it now, I'll discourage myself and only slow the writing process down. :p
    Stay encouraged! That's what editing is there for, even as awful as it might be. xP

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    1. Exactly! And I struggle with that all the time. I always want to edit as I go, but then I get so caught up on one measly chapter and don't make any progress.

      Keep working at your novel, even when you're feeling discouraged! It'll all pay off in the end.

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  3. I've had this experience with pretty much every single story I have ever written. That's why I try to get first drafts done as quickly as possible, while I still think they're good (or at least okay) and it isn't torture to write. I actually think feelings like this are helpful, in a way, because if I felt like my story was trash ALL the time I'd never write another word.

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    1. You're right. We need to recognize what needs to be fixed in our story, but we also need to stay encouraged. And it's so easy to doubt ourselves. Sometimes we can think our story is trash even when it's not!

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  4. Hi, Ally! Your blog is fabulous!
    And this post is absolutely true! I think all writers get discouraged at times. But if we just have enough courage to start, then we can always go back later and fix the awfulness of that first draft.
    Thanks for the great post, and have a splendid day!

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    1. Thanks, Bailey! You're absolutely right. Courage is one of the key instruments to writing.

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  5. Oh my gosh, I feel this post so hard. I was working towards a MS since November for NaNo and I LOVED it so much back then and I'm halfway through but I can't finish it which is irritating me so much. Right now, I'm having SO MANY doubts about it even though so many people have told me that I actually have writing talent. URGH

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    1. You can do it!!! Yes, sometimes you're going to feel awful about your story. No one writes perfect first drafts, especially for NaNo. But remember--there is nothing that cannot be fixed!

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  6. This happens to me all the time! I always revise my work no matter what, but sometimes I'll finish a piece and think that it was fabulous and it might not need as many revisions. And then I come back to the story, and realize it needs way more revising than I thought because it really wasn't as good as I thought. Another thing that happens to me is that sometimes I "write" stories in my head mentally, but when I try to put them down on paper, they don't sound as good. *sighs* It really is a writer struggle. However, it's nice when it goes the other way around, which has happened to me a few times.

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    1. I know what you mean! Sometimes I have a story idea and it plays out like a movie in my head. And then the "movie" doesn't want to be adapted into a book. The struggle is REAL.

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  7. Oh, wow. I know EXACTLY how this feels. And normally it happens with my short stories, too, though not with my novels. (It's hard to stay constantly true to the original vision of a novel, for some reason. But somehow, I find myself staying true all the same... Maybe I just shouldn't worry so much? Anyway, nearly all of my detours end well. Maybe I'm just not so good at short fiction... :-P)

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    1. Well, for me, it's a lot harder to keep from reading over what I've written if I'm writing a short story. After almost every paragraph I write, I feel compelled to go back and reread everything I've written. When I do that, I build up the story in my mind so that I think it's better than it actually is. So yeah, I understand your dilemma. But short fiction is fun! You should keep writing it if you enjoy it, and you'll get better with each one you write.

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  8. Awesome advice! I must admit I tend to lean to the thoughts that my stories are perfect - and then I read them :) good thing words can always be rewritten :D

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    1. Thanks, Keturah! We have the same tendencies, then. :)

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  9. Yes, yes, and, once again, YES!!!!! I have so had this happen, but I always remind myself that the real magic happens in the edits. Like you and Anne said, "You gotta start somewhere."
    What's really cool though is when the reverse of this happens: as I'm writing a scene, I'm positive it's absolute crap. Then I come back in edits and kinda smile to myself. It's not great by any means, but it's not half as bad as I thought it was. Those are the best moments.


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com

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    1. Yes! Isn't it great when that happens?

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  10. YES. This happens to me every time I rush into an idea. I have to remind myself that as long as its on paper, it can be edited- if I never write it down, then it can never be improved.

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    1. So true ^


      Alexa
      thessalexa.blogspot.com

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    2. You can't edit a blank piece of paper.

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    3. So very true. I rush into all of my ideas, so I end up having to remind myself of this a lot.

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  11. This is perfection! So true - that is me so often (the whole, thinking-its-truly-amazing-and-perfect-until-reading-over-it)! I wish my writing would come out amazingly (as it seems it does for everyone else), but I have to remind myself that writing is like most things; you have to practise to get better at it, you know? It is definitely hard to continue writing the project after reading over it and feeling like it's trash (not some incredibleness), but it's worth it. :D This is an awesome post! :)

    -Koko @ His Little Elephant.

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    1. THANK YOU! You're so right. Practice may not make perfect but it certainly makes you better!

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