Keep the Ball Rolling

A place for writer's to congregate and commiserate about the life of the writer. Discuss techniques for fixing your prose, livening up your dialogue, or awakening your muse. Also share in writing victories, be they publication or contest winnings.

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JillStar
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Postby JillStar » Sun Dec 12, 2004 8:04 pm

I have my moments where (and I'll just talk about writing) I seriously doubt my effort in the world of books will ever play an important role. It is when these thought take over that I am at my most miserable.

I can get into the self pity aspect of daily life (not talking about writing) wherein I think that we (humans) are just a waste of time in the universe and that ultimately, we each feel that things around us are the MOST important things EVER... but my question is... who gives a damn?

The key for me is that... if I give in to those thoughts of "who am I in comparison to the rest of mankind who seem to be wasting time as much as me"... then I will give up completely. I want to be important... that keeps me going. And if making up a reason to be important or creating a reason is what keeps me going... then that is what I will do.

If creating a make-believe world that I write about makes me feel like I'm the best I can be... then I will do it. That right there is easier said than done because I often get in the way of myself. All the double talk and the self doubt plagues me into NOT doing what makes me the happiest... almost as if being unhappy give me more purpose. Misery is often more understood than happiness... and I hate that.

So... what was the question? Oh ya... how do I get my writing ball rolling again? I suppose the first thing is to make it VERY important to me... if I don't care... then who the hell will?
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Mlou
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Postby Mlou » Sun Dec 12, 2004 8:32 pm

Well, what I try to do when I get like that is to send out something that I have already written...just submit it in a (hopefully) likely place. It seems if I have something to look forward to, even if it's getting a rejection, it fires me up and I can work on something else while waiting expectantly. The good Lord knows I have enough poems to keep the mails humming with responses (of whatever kind).
I've gotten lazy. I used to have a dozen things...articles, stories, poems...out at any given time. Anyway, it's a suggestion.
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Postby TheMudge » Sun Dec 12, 2004 9:24 pm

My problem is lack of focus. I write great stories in the shower, or while driving, or while staring at the ceiling at three in the morning . . . but by the time I go to write them down . . .
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JillStar
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Postby JillStar » Sun Dec 12, 2004 9:29 pm

I can understand that Mudge... sometimes I wish it would be nice if I could think something and have it appear on my Word screen... like in the Tommy Knockers (I think that was the movie).

I agree that focus is a problem (for me) but also discipline and purpose. If I don't discipline (sp?) myself as well as give myself a purpose to actually accomplishing a story ON PAPER rather than in my mind... well then the story will never make it to print.
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Postby Mlou » Sun Dec 12, 2004 9:47 pm

Do you think if you had a specific purpose...say a particular publication in mind or a writing contest with specific requirements that it would focus you on that one thing enough to turn something out?
There's a contest on right now to right about what your father taught you, or how he influenced you.

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Postby Sakkasie » Mon Dec 13, 2004 2:55 am

A few things I do:

1) Read a book about writing. Anything by Natalie Goldberg or my current favorite, "The Lie That Tells A Truth" by John Defresne which has a lot of great writing exercises in it.

2) Good ol' goals. I try to fill a notebook each month, even if it's only journaling.

3) Register for a writing course at a local community college or online. I believe Barnes & Noble has free online courses in writing.

4) Make your writing an event. Prepare a cup of tea or coffee, maybe add a little snack, put on some music, heck I even light candles now and again.

5) Find a new place to write.

6) Positive reinforcement. I bought myself some very cheap business cards that have my name and "Writer" on them, along with the address of the website that most of my stuff is on. I can't very well hand out business cards that say Writer on them if I'm not writing, now can I?


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Postby Debangel » Mon Dec 13, 2004 9:38 am

Jill I cannot give you an answer. What I will do is pray for you as many on here are much more knowledgable than me. I'm sure with their help you will find that answer or answers so as I said I will pray that you will find what works for you.
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Postby pengwenn » Mon Dec 13, 2004 1:30 pm

jillstar wrote:I have my moments where (and I'll just talk about writing) I seriously doubt my effort in the world of books will ever play an important role. It is when these thought take over that I am at my most miserable.
...


Wow Jill that whole post is exactly how I feel a lot of the time. I almost felt I wrote that because I've been through it so many times. I don't think there's a permenant fix to the problem either...at least I haven't found it. When life steps in and stops the ball rolling, stomping on it too distorting its shape, it seems pretty hard trying to get a square ball rolling again. You put a lot of effort into it and just when it starts to move it thunks over on the other side of the square. As much as writing is a 'solitary' sport it's nice to know that the things that frustrate me and drive me crazy are shared by others I respect and admire.

One problem I have is that it seems all my good ideas, in the clearest manifestation of greatness, come when I'm completely involved in something that I can't quit. A moment of clarity will come with shampoo in my eyes, sitting in a unit meeting, talking on the phone with an agent, driving 30 mph behind the slow poke in front of me, or anywhere/anytime that I can't write. Instead of panicing that I'm not going to get the idea down I try to keep the idea moving over and over again in my head until I can get to a time/place to write it down. I have post it notes all over the place with these little ideas. When I sit at the pc and I'm stuck I pull one of the post it out and flesh out what I thought of earlier. I have many, many stories I'm working on. When I get stuck I tend to put it aside and start something new. It helps to keep the creative juices flowing and the feeling of being productive although I don't have many finished pieces.
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Postby ragingredhawk » Mon Dec 13, 2004 1:39 pm

Jill, I can understand exactly where you're coming from. There was a time that I loved writing. And then I went to college to get my BA in creative writing. I did pretty well, people liked my stuff, and even when my prof. didn't, I was able to handle it OK. It was my story and if I didn't want to change it, I wouldn't. He gave me an A, even though my story only got a B because he was impressed that I stuck to my guns.

And then I went to grad school.

I don't write "literary" fiction. Which is what they want in grad school. My "sticking to my guns" that served me so well in udergrad? Not so popular anymore. I basically spent two years getting hammered every time I submitted a story and told I wasn't any good.

It's been a year this month since I graduated and I still can't shake it.

I've written almost nothing in the last year. Joining Wordtrip was part of my effort to keep the "ball rolling" or at least get it started again. Hasn't helped much. Everytime I try and write, I do the stare at the screen or the ever popular write four pages and then decide they're absolute crap move. My wife's convinced I'm using grad school as an excuse because I'm scared of it happening again. I don't know.

My only suggestion is the same one I give myself everyday (not that it's worked yet :) ): Stop thinking so much, get out of your own way, and just do it.

And now I sound like a sneaker commercial :)

Good luck. Hope your ball starts rolling again soon.

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Postby JillStar » Mon Dec 13, 2004 2:40 pm

Hey Pen... I think one of the keys here is to find a way to allow the brain to flow when pen or keyboard are in range. Perhaps we could find a way of tricking the brain to be more open... make it think we're in those circumstances where writing is impossible.

ragingredhawk (cool name)... it seems that people influence in so many ways... unfortunately, we often don't have the ability of picking and choosing which person or group of people stick in our head the most. I remember hearing that for every negative a person has to hear... what?... 10 positives. That is one reason I enjoy sites like this one... I haven't been attacked or made to feel like an idiot... but on the other hand, no one will just say what I want to hear either. Honesty helps me in my writing... personal attacks or unnecessary praise is not what I want.

I never had the opportunity to attend such colleges... perhaps I should be grateful?
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Postby Mlou » Mon Dec 13, 2004 3:07 pm

Hawk, I hear you! I think "literary" fiction is highly overrated and just a snob-appeal thing with the professorial types. They can keep their boring "literary" and I'll read a rousing good adventure, mystery, etc.

Jill, I really thought you might look into the "father" thing, with everything so fresh in your mind from your stepfather's passing. It would serve as an emotional outlet and get the writing flowing as well.
Do me a favor and look into it, okay>
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Postby JillStar » Mon Dec 13, 2004 3:12 pm

I agree Mlou... had a dream just the other night about my dad... I think I'll start a new thread for "dreams".

I'm thinking I could use how I feel and point it in the direction of a character in a story... or two characters... one that would represent someone like my dad and one that would be someone like me.
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Postby Mlou » Mon Dec 13, 2004 3:17 pm

Well, do check out the website I posted on page 2, as they are looking for essays on fathers. You could enter it and whap my butt as Hiss says, because I entered it too. Or more likely we'd BOTH get our butts whapped. But it's good practice in any case.
nothing is ever simply Yes or No. There's always a But...





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Postby Hyker » Mon Dec 13, 2004 3:39 pm

ragingredhawk wrote:...And then I went to grad school.

I don't write "literary" fiction. Which is what they want in grad school. My "sticking to my guns" that served me so well in udergrad? Not so popular anymore. I basically spent two years getting hammered every time I submitted a story and told I wasn't any good.


Those same professors go home and open a good Stephen King novel (or any other Popular Fiction author) just like anyone else. They use "Literary" works as a conversation piece to make themselves sound intelligent at gatherings. Stick to writing what you enjoy.

As far as motivation goes, I would say the best method I've found so far is getting a partner (or group) who also writes. Set down some guidelines and consequences that motivate, but aren't so harsh that the writing becomes a chore.

An example-- Kal and I just sat down to revise our guidelines for the new year. We meet at least once a week to critique each other's work or progress, and if the guidelines aren't met by one of us, the offender pays the other $5. (It used to be a dinner, but that became positive reinforcement to NOT write :) )

Some of the guidelines we came up with are as follows:

1) Once a week- 1500 words on a working novel, or a completed short story due for critique.
2) Minimum of 2 submissions to magazines per month (Short Stories/articles) OR 1 submission to publisher or agent (novel)...

Etc, etc...

Obviously you should come up with your own guidelines that fit your current writing needs, but its a great motivator that keeps the ball rolling. :)
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Postby pengwenn » Wed Dec 15, 2004 6:29 pm

Here's something that might keep the ball rolling: GUILT.

I started writing the number of words I wrote each day on my calender in November for nanowrimo instead of just crossing days off. If you don't write anything you have to place a big fat zero up there. After seeing a bunch of zeros lines up I felt guilty and sat down to right something....anything. Even if you don't write much that 100 words looks much better then a zero. I've also found that my most productive day of the week is Wednesday. It's been interesting and motivational so far for me.
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Postby TheMudge » Thu Dec 16, 2004 12:53 pm

Hyker wrote:Those same professors go home and open a good Stephen King novel (or any other Popular Fiction author) just like anyone else. They use "Literary" works as a conversation piece to make themselves sound intelligent at gatherings. Stick to writing what you enjoy.


Hear, hear.

Or is it, "Here, here"? Or "Hear, here"?

Oh, hell . . . uh, "AMEN"!
"Throughout history, Truth and Love have always won." - M. Ghandi


"Truth and Love often get the crap kicked out of them along the way." -D. Mudge



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Mlou
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Postby Mlou » Thu Dec 16, 2004 1:42 pm

Or is it Ah-men?
nothing is ever simply Yes or No. There's always a But...





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Postby Quicksilver Wolf » Fri Dec 17, 2004 10:39 pm

NO!!!
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Postby Hissmonster » Fri Dec 17, 2004 10:56 pm

Mlou wrote:

You could enter it and whap my butt as Hiss says, because I entered it too. Or more likely we'd BOTH get our butts whapped. But it's good practice in any case.


Whooo HOOO!!! A butt whoopin!!!

sounds like fun 8)
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Postby timberline » Sat Dec 18, 2004 3:18 pm

Is there anyone who doesn't sometimes see the Writing Spirit take off without a forwarding address? And there's no easy solution to "writer's block." Guilt drives me back to the keyboard, but crap often ensues. Guilt is when you feel, like r-r-hawk, that it's the New Yorker lit stuff that will sell.

I tried journals. (Dumb, and I don't like blogs either.) I tried literary stuff. (To hell with Alice Munro and her kind.) I tried non-fiction to play off my newspapering background. (Feeling of accomplishment, but it's the difference between 3.2 beer and single malt scotch.)

What got the juices running again two years ago was finding a voice in retelling some urban legends. That, and having people laugh at my stories at a writing workshop. Good ol' Isaac Bashevis Singer said it best: Even the most literary author should be able to tell a good story. (By the way, did you hear the one about the golfer and the blonde on the bus?)

I may sell occasionally--but I may not. Doesn't matter. My g-granddad's self-published poetry sits in my bookcase, but it was his Civil War journals I had posted on the Web. My grandma's Chautauqua lectures are long forgotten, but now they're up on a Website too. I'm still looking for a publisher for my mother's history of the Northwest. It's up to my kids, say I, to put my stuff out there; my enjoyment becomes their guilt. I had fun doing it, and if it ain't fun, don't do it!
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Postby JillStar » Wed Jan 11, 2006 8:37 am

Here's some good advice... I wonder when I'll ever start listening to myself?
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