Writer's Blah

(I wanna point out, this is completely different to Writer's Meh :-) )


Ever get one of those days/weeks/months where you just look around you at all the GOOD writers and think - 'FFS, I'm never going to measure up!' ???


They're infrequent for me, because I tend toward manic, arrogant and carefree in my attitudes to myself... but occasionally reality smacks me between the eyes with a brick.


HA! I see it now.


Reality is the real problem. :-D


Writer's Blah, Writer's Meh, Writer's Grrr, and Writer's La-de-da-ooh-shiny! -- baby, I've got 'em all.


I have Writer's Oof, where you manage to wrangle ten minutes of quiet time from the toddler, the school, the housework, and you sit down and look at all your massively complex and incredibly detailed stories and think "Ooof. Man..." and are too tired for any of it. And then you wind up wanting to write a scene in which your character sits in a comfy chair and has a nice drink and some silence for a bit.


And nobody reads those scenes. ;)


lmao @ peedee


and what do you call when you know exactly what comes next but can't find the right voice to say it in?? the words sit there behind some damned un-biodegradable screen but can't do the respectable thing and jump into yr lap?? grrr....


@NiSp I hate that. I have that problem sometimes. It can be crippling if voice is part of your work (and it's a big part of mine).


Um. Nope. No solutions. If I had a solution for it, I'd be living in Magic Fairy Land. ;)


I've been blahhhhed all day :(


Never mind, there's always tomorrow!


srsulesky - Um, sounds fun! ;-)


Peedee - Yup. Been there. There's a reason my fiction tends toward the light and fluffy, or at least piecemeal. Oh, sorry - they're 'connected short stories' so it's OK to have huge yawning gaps :P


@NiSp and Peedee- I too sympathise. It's like you've got this big fat idea sitting in your head, taking up space- and you can't quite push it out. Brain Pregnancy!


I tend to suffer from Writer's Gah (look, you all already used up all the good signs, okay?), which is where you look at something you've just written and think- "Wait, that's not what that was supposed to be like AT ALL."


Maybe Reality IS the real problem. We must fight it!


Reyben: I have LONG been of the opinion that reality is most of the issue. If only we could subscribe to reality and just, like, have a couple hours of it a week and then put it away. That would be lovely.


Or robot nannies. I would love a robot nanny. S/he could tend to the small thought-destroying child, AND could gently remind me that I should wear pants before going outside and have I considered shaving?


...


Okay, so when you lot have Writer's Gah/Oof/Phew/Ugh/Hurk/etc etc, what steps do you take to recognize and perhaps deal with it? Now I'm curious.


Robot Nannies, of course, carry the same inevitable danger imbued in all mechanical kin- the innate desire to Kill, Crush and Destroy. Although in this respect they may indeed be useful in the War Against Reality, if only we can sublimate their natural hatred of humanity...


***


As for combating Writer's Gah (etc), well, there are two main options. A) Try and wrestle the story back to its intended form by stringent editing and re-editing, eventually driving yourself crazy. Or B) Tear it down and start again from scratch. Of course, neither of these are necessary if your story mutates into something superior to your original ideas, which does happen from time to time. If it's a stillbirth and the ideas self-destruct beyond salvagability halfway through writing, then I tend to put them away somewhere safe for later reference and start anew. You have to be sure that the story REALLY isn't working, though. There's the well-known writerly tendency to get distracted halfway through a project in favour of something shiny and new, giving you the desperate desire to drop whatever you're doing now. That doesn't count, that's just the inability to commit. I often ask myself- "Wait, is it really the time to abandon this, or am I just being infidelous?"


It's a real pain when you've actually slogged your way to the end of a story and you realise "No, nope, that doesn't work. Not one bit." Of course, it's even worse when you DON'T realise...


Good points, good points. Of course, I figured that things like Writer's Gah were mostly to do with the writer (like a muse lethargy) rather than any problem with the story itself. It's you looking at it going "This is NOT BRILLIANT and NEVER WILL BE and I will DIE UNLOVED" rather than the idea itself having any real problem.


(Or maybe that's Writer's Emo, which is perhaps a whole new condition).


I find that when an idea isn't ready to be written, it's best just to let it sit somewhere in your head. I had a comic book proposal that never got off the ground which sat around and eventually joined up with a whole different idea for a short story. The two fused, turned into something much more interesting that is novel length (in theory; if I get through Writer's GAH and finish it).


As for the ending thing...it's interesting. The times I think I know my ending, they never come out that way. the times I write and hope to hell an ending appears...it comes out as something I'm proud of and satisfied with. Although I don't think any lessons can necessarily be drawn from that. :)


I swear, endings tend to sneak up on me. Even when I have one specifically in mind, the story sort of goes "Hey, why don't you try this, this is better." And I try telling it, "No, screw you, I was here first, this is my show." And the story just sort of crosses its arms and smiles, because we both know full well that I'm going to give into it eventually.


Boy. Writer's are crazy. Or maybe it's just me.


I'm totally with you on the letting ideas stew bit, though. I've got a huge back-catalogue of plots and premises in my head, floating around. All I have to do is just wait for two of them to hit it off. Heh. It's like a cocktail party up there.


Writer's Emo. I like that. Or rather, I don't. I found it a great comfort when I realised the futility of waiting for a brilliant idea. You don't get to have brilliant ideas. You just get ideas and you do your damndest to make them brilliant, or as close as you can get. The only writers who ever get to call their ideas brilliant are A) Raving egotists or B) INCREDIBLY, infuriatingly, incorrigibly good.


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Robot Nannies, of course, carry the same inevitable danger imbued in all mechanical kin- the innate desire to Kill, Crush and Destroy. Although in this respect they may indeed be useful in the War Against Reality, if only we can sublimate their natural hatred of humanity...


I don't think it's anything personal against humanity. I think it's just the fact that they don't get to sleep or eat. You should see ME when I'm sleep-deprived and my blood sugar is low. Definitely a high Kill Crush Destroy thing going on in what's left of my mind.


There's the well-known writerly tendency to get distracted halfway through a project in favour of something shiny and new, giving you the desperate desire to drop whatever you're doing now.


I like Piers Anthony's take on such things. Write 'em down, then get back to whatever the hell you were doing. Of course, you can see the results of such a philosophy when applied to the ball of chaos I like to call my mind by visiting Nomesque Fiction and counting the number of storylines I currently have on the go... :-D


Peedee - Writer's Emo. I love it. Oh hang on, I'm wearing black... just wait, I wear black EVERY day... God, no wonder I love it.


I swear, endings tend to sneak up on me.


See, I have that problem with plot in general. But my ENDINGS??? They run away screaming most of the time. Half of my 'series' (what the hell is the plural of 'series'? WHY didn't my school teach grammar??) were supposed to be single short stories. But they breed in there somewhere. Parthenogenetics of storylines. And random mutations. It's all making sense now.


-This advert was brought to you by the CyproFloxAMuse foundation. Side-effects may include hyperactivity, concussion, confusion, baldness, sterility, infertility, infidelity-to-your-muse, long-windedness, short-windedness, wind, headaches, flaking, vomiting, implosion, death, uber-death, trans-uber-death, resurrection-of-grandparents, Apocalyptic Tendencies, flight, mind-control and Dan Brown. Do not apply while exhaling.


BAHHAAHAHAA


Oh damn, there goes another keyboard.


I needs me a coffee-proof keyboard, peeps.


Ahhhhhh!!! I've got sudden onset Dan Brown!!! Aaaaahh!!


Actually, what I have to ask is...WHERE do I apply this cream, exactly? Where do you apply Muse Cream?


(probably your bum, but I thought I'd ask nicely).


I wear excessive black too, but choose to regard it not as EMO and more as "I like black." And when I'm older, and corpulent, it'll make me look thinner. :D


...


The biggest writerly problem *I* have in stories are when bit characters fill up with story and depth and personality and refuse to go away. It's not a huge issue, but I remember when I was much younger and a little less experienced. A character was supposed to die and kick off the novel. Instead, he logically got onto a horse and rode off. And I panicked and went "What now!?" and the whole story blew up.


Fortunately, there's probably a cream for that too. ;)


"Different degrees of Muse's Lethargy may require different areas of application. You are referred to the twenty-six page chart included free with your cream, and the accompanying chart-decodifier, which is available for the small additional cost of $23.99 (to be paid in Yen). WARNING: Failure to follow chart precisely may cause... well, anything, really."


*


Black is slimming. And it goes with everything.


I've had that problem, Peedee, wherein characters ruin the story with their stupid desire to live. By now I've also noticed that bit part characters always attempt to take over the story at some point. I've even tried anticipating it by specifically DESIGNING bit-part characters with this potential in mind. And then, of course, the story gets taken over by a different set of bit-players and they change the whole direction of the piece. But usually if it's that organic, you can't fight it. And if the character wants to usurp the lead that bad, well, as long as they earn it...


It's also a bit problematic when the story's logical direction takes you somewhere you don't necessarily want to go- for instance, with heroes getting on horseback and riding away instead of, um, DYING when they're supposed to. But narratives really are so much more satisfying when that happens, because it feels both sensible and a bit unpredictable- and because it eases the worry that the writer might start chaining characters to Idiot Balls just to force the plot along a certain path.


I have another syndrom of writing within me, the writer's addiction. There are some time that I wanted to write (more correctly, draft) my novel and it ended up forgetting to doing my assignments. At least my current drafts are finished so it is gone. But once I started another one this will be coming again.

When I write, I tend to imagine the storyline as if the novel is an anime or a RPG, which helps me to think of the events and the details (especially during combat). Perhaps this is due to my desire to have it becoming a video game.

I also plan my storyline, characters, settings and fighting system before I write to prevent illogical events or hanging plots, despite that it will be have to change sometimes. I even draw the map of the setting, the elemental chart, the spell list and the weapons in my novel.


@Reyben - I figured out, later on, WHY this happens. At least with me. Because I bring on these temporary/disposable characters, and I think they're going to go away after a bit, I have lots of fun with them. I really open up and give them personalities and weird methods of speech and all this detail, just playing around. And because I've made them, without thinking about it, so formed...they are sturdier than the main characters sometimes. And they hang around.


With one novel, which I need to fiddle and do something with, I had a character who was meant to die in the first chapter and give way to the novel's main character. He didn't die. And he kept growing. And the main character, with his personality and problems and story, never appeared. I wound up following this disposable character all the way through.


...


@Murazrai - You know, I used to do buckets of planning too, and it's FUN. I'd fill up notebooks with character notes and bios and world history and all this stuff. I miss doing that sometimes, it's a fun way to pass time when you're not otherwise writing.


@Peedee; I think that the fun is the core of the issue. Since they don't have as much time to assert themselves as the protagonists, side-characters get all the crazy quirks. And then you fall in love with them, even if you know they're doomed. And thus, much like in real life, you must fight the urge to kill.


...You don't have that urge? Um. I mean. Me neither. He he. Ha.


@Murazria- Ah, if only I had the patience of such extensive planning. I used to, but these days I'm too eager to write and let the universe draw itself as I do so. Having said which, you've got to at least have some ideas of the rules first. But charts... frighten me...


@PeeDee - That is quite fun, but I too suck on drawing that I'm unable to draw the characters.


@Reyben - I must get the elements and the spells organized or the combats in my novel will be very confusing for the readers. The map is used for storyline purpose. It is illogical if a place located at the Arctic/Antarctic circle are hot, isn't it?