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Shix
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PostSubject: Why do we write?   Tue Nov 03, 2009 1:20 am

Why do we write? I've been 8 years (yes that's right) without writing anything worthwhile, this after having chased my dream of being a writer since the age of 12 and achieving it and in the process becoming one of the youngest authors signed by HarperCollins. Since then, nada. But there are a lot of reasons for that, some external and all beside the point.

Writing has tormented my sleep, destroyed my eye-sight and generally caused me a whole world of grief. And yet ... I can't give it up. I've tried but inevitably I find myself crawling back to the keyboard and punching in a few words, perhaps just a sentence for a story I started 3 years ago.

No one forces us to write. We're responsible for all the anguish and frustration this art dishes out, we sit there and take it, and why ... why?

Well, because we have to. There is no choice. I knew from a young age (and I'm sure it's the same for a lot of people) that it's what I was going to do with my life. I saw magic in creating characters and worlds with the simple squiggle of a pencil on paper. I saw magic in the laughter spilling from my lips, laughter sprung from characters and dialogue existing only in my mind. I saw magic in the tears that streamed from my eyes when my creations overcame obstacles I placed in their way or suffered great loss and hardship. I saw magic in this form of art, this simple form of art that requires no more than something to write with and something to write on.

I saw magic. Hopefully I'll see it again.

So anyway, just a question. Why do you write?

Note to self: Re-read this every day!
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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Tue Nov 03, 2009 1:39 am

Excellent thread!

i like the note to self Smile

Sometimes i wonder this too, i've had writers block for the past 6 months. I've agonised over staring at a blank page, writing 200words, erasing 200 words and ending up with 0wordcount to show for it at the end of each day.

I've bought dozens of books about outlining, just to realise that i never outlined anything in my life, why am i forcing a different way of writing. Why am i not doing something else? something that comes easier? that is more likely to be a career!

i could ask a dozen of these questions. The reason i write isn't cause i love it, cause i'm not at the point where i find writing or should i say telling a story (well) easy, i'm not at the point where my work has even been validated and sometimes i really hate having this want to write.

So, why do i write?

Because if i'm being perfectly honest, i really . . . don't know.

I guess like you said its for the magic factor - when someone goes out of their way to contact you out of the blue to say they thought your piece (which you thought was utter crap) was brilliant

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Shix
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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:34 am

It's interesting you say you don't think you love writing, I'm sure a part of you must else why put up with all the anguish? And to be honest I don't think it ever gets to a point where it's easy. Some days it seems easy but they are more than balanced out by the difficult times.

I know what you mean by outlines, I never did that ever, but being stuck as I have been I've tried many different approaches including outlines. They're good in some ways, but mapping out the story in it's entirety doesn't leave room for that magic, that feeling of discovery you get when something unexpected happens. I've four books I want to write, all outlined to varying degrees, but it hasn't helped me to get them started.

Usually I just need the last line of the story and go from there. As long as I know the last words I'm going to write, the ending point, then I just let loose knowing that regardless of the journey, that must be my destination.

I do know what triggered my first novel being completed. I asked myself a very profound question one day. "You call yourself a writer ... but what have you actually written?"
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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:57 pm

Shix...you are very wise indeed. Wise words for writers. I love the note to self and your question at the end of this last post you wrote. I use that question when I do my photos...what did I actually capture in my photograph? Same goes with any art...what did you capture?

I've been like Emily these past months. Having a block of sorts. I got the urge to write again but when I sat down, nothing came. But ever since (like you Shix) when I was about 12 or so, I realized I loved telling stories. I love the magic of the story. I loved trying to figure out how authors came up with the stories they did. But now I know why I can't figure that out. It's the magic of the art of writing. The magic is what brings the author and the reader together in a world no one ever thought possible. I'm still astounded at characters, settings, worlds, and even plots that other authors create with their words. I love that magic and I know I've created some of my own but I just can't get it to move forward to the end of the story. I think in some way, I don't want the magic of the story to end and that may be my block. But also, if I finish the story, the magic will never end. That's what editing and re-reads are for anyway right?
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Shix
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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:03 pm

Hey Gobble, my problem seems to be getting started. I read lots about writer's block and differing reasons and it's brought me no closer to solving my own problems though recently I've felt a tingle of that magic again. The magic in creation doesn't end I don't think, even after you finish and hopefully publish your story. I reread my novel and though I cringe sometimes (not kidding) at what I wrote, there are some parts that make me smile because I remember the moment I wrote that particular paragraph or bit of dialogue, the magic is sewn into the story for eternity, so I don't think it ever leaves the author.

What Emily wrote is interesting because to me, i couldn't do this if I didn't love it. It would be too easy to go find something a lot easier to do with my time.

And Emily if you read this, this sentence intrigued me: "cause i'm not at the point where i find writing or should i say telling a story (well) easy"

It intrigued me because you distinguish between writing and telling a story. I wish more people made that distinction. When asked, i try to always answer that first and foremost my love is for story-telling. Unfortunately I'm not a gifted artist, musician, cartoonist or whatever else, so the only means I have of telling stories, the simplest means, is to write them down. If there was any other way, I'm sure I'd have pursued it. Writing is the tool, story-telling is the art. I wish more people understood that.

Sorry for the long post.
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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Wed Nov 04, 2009 2:33 am

Shix wrote:


And Emily if you read this, this sentence intrigued me: "cause i'm not at the point where i find writing or should i say telling a story (well) easy"


Well i think tis really important to actually distinguish between storytelling and writing. In my mind writing is being able to string words together, it involves skills which people can learn like grammar etc. I think i have this ability. I write academically all the time etc. although its important to always improve

Storytelling however is something more elusive, which i often doubt whether i have, and is something i need to improve through lots and lots of awful writing.

When i refer to love or lack of love for writing, i guess i don't know how i feel about it, but i don't think mine is a an unconditional love for it - more like a necessity - like picking a scab (lovely image i know). I realise i'm not 'meant' to feel this way, i should either say a] i absolutely love writing and can't live without it b] i need to write or i will DIE!

If i couldn't write, i think i would be devastated, yet i still wouldn't think i 'love it', partly because it brings so much selfdoubt, self-conciousness and vulnerability. I can take criticism in any place in my life without pause, yet although i take constructive criticism on board in my writing, i really have to remember to not take it personally or believe that i'm never going to be good enough etc.

Seriously i'm all over the shop aren't i!

Gobble, i get how you feel completely, i used to have magic allloooong time ago but now i'm trying to find it again (perhaps that why i'm all conflustered on 'love of writing', maybe i'm gone past honeymoon phase and am going to a marriage counsellor Laughing)
Shix - i've seen lots and lots of advice for WB, some people say 'leave it' etc and i've done that and i'm still where i am, so i've decided on BIC (butt in chair) approach and try and write something - poem and short story and see if the spark gets going.

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Shix
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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:32 am

I'm actually the opposite, storytelling is what I do best and writing is the difficult bit. That can be extremely frustrating knowing you have a great story but unable to get it down to a standard you like. I think the prolific writers though, just have a knack for getting that first draft finished no matter what. From there it's a lot easier.

I used to worry about my skill as a writer but I don't any more (mainly because I got something published so I can't be as bad as I think). The key for me I guess is to just get that mindset that it doesn't have to be perfect first time around, and that's the mental barrier I need to break through. I wrote my prologue and instead of moving on, I've rewritten it several times already which is a no-no.

When a lot of people think writer's block they assume there's problems with the story itself not with the writing it down part. Again that comes from not distinguishing between the two.

The BIC approach you mentioned is really the best approach, because a writer needs to write. Talking about it is also good, that's why I'm glad I've found this place, nice to have some people to talk to about something that has essentially been a very solitary experience.
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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:54 am

Shix wrote:
The key for me I guess is to just get that mindset that it doesn't have to be perfect first time around, and that's the mental barrier I need to break through. I wrote my prologue and instead of moving on, I've rewritten it several times already which is a no-no.


I'm exactly the same! My prologue has its own folder on my computer with all the different edit version. how sad i know lol, so your not alone.
Maybe NaNo is good in that sense, pushes you to move past the 'perfection' mode on to 'first draft' mode.

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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Wed Nov 04, 2009 2:36 pm

Wow, I'd really have to think about this before I could give a proper answer. (Knowing me that could turn into several paragraphs.)

I guess the short answer would be that I had a story that needed to be told. I've sat on this story for over two decades. I actually started writing some of it down in my late teens (I don't know where that original stuff went but I'm quite sure it was quite atrocious). Then life happened - college, marriage, kids, divorce, grad school, marriage, another kid, and, for the past several years, the necessary evil: the full-time job.

I've written quite a lot during those intervening years, though none of it fiction and certainly nothing related to that original story. I wrote pages and pages of research papers through college and grad school, including my master's thesis. All of this was fine and good, I learned how to write very well, grammatically speaking, and discovered how much I enjoy playing with all the fancy jewels available in our vast lexicon, but it kept my creativity bound within very tight constraints, because there's only so much room for creativity when you're writing about Natural/Cultural Resource Management (my MS degree). Then, I began working full-time (I manage a county GIS department) and found that my writing was forced into an even tighter box. Not much creativity needed or appreciated when one writes reports, contracts and technical instructions.

Over the past few years I've found that my creative self is getting more and more claustrophobic inside that box. Until, finally, it demanded to be set free. And that original story--the results of a 19-year old's dream--would not leave me. It refuses to be forgotten.

So just over a year ago I decided to listen to the creative voice that was demanding to be heard by telling the story that was demanding to be told.
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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Thu Nov 05, 2009 2:23 am

That's great S, I completely understand life getting in the way, it happened to me also, but really I can't complain when for a long time writing got in the way of life. Guess it's just payback and have to put up with it until the tide turns. That's beginning to happen for me, I think. Hope.

It's interesting you say you have a story that demands to be told. I feel the same, I have no choice over whether I try and write or not, I've got this story (well 4 to be precise) that just won't leave me alone until I get it out of my head and onto paper. My life's being hijacked by these goings-on in my mind!

I'm just interested as to the motives behind everyone wanting to write. Are they pretty much much the same, is it a need rather than a want? For me, yes.
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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Thu Nov 05, 2009 3:23 am

Just my opinion but i often think it has to be 70% need and 30% want to actually want to write as a career (and i think it would be the same for any creative career)

You just have to read agents/publishers blogs and look at the comments of posters to see how hard the business is to break into and to maintain, especially now. Similar to what my lecturers have said in regards to doing psychology, - you have to be crazy already to want a career in psychology (and i'd kinda think writing would be the same lol). like all creative careers it involves time, lots and lots of work and LUCK to make it.


P.S. Shix we have a 'published one' section here for previous published members, pm me if you'd like to set up a thread for your book

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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Thu Nov 05, 2009 5:58 am

Yes, Shix, I would definitely say that this story demands to be told. And now I've got several more queuing up, all loudly demanding that they get their turn. I tell you, these stories can get quite loud when they're trying to make themselves be heard. It's quite the cacophany at times.

Emily, at this point I certainly wouldn't aspire to write as a career. I'd have to consistently make quite a lot of money writing to be able replace my current career. Which is why writing has, unfortunately, been relegated to the status of a hobby for me. Although I have both the need and the desire to write, I simply do not have the time to give the attention it deserves. So, at least for the foreseeable future, I write when I can.
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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:31 am

Well Mary (you don't mind if i call you that? or would S be preferable?), at the moment i'm the same - writing is a hobby (i haven't been paid for it so its a hobby) but i have aspirations that someday i might make it a career. if your time is limited you can only do as much as you can - many a novel has been written and published that way!

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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Sat Nov 07, 2009 10:59 am

I don't know. I write because it's my thing. It's what I love, although I'm not quite sure why I love it. It's like a compulsion. It's not so much a release--because delving into writing presents its own crazy problems--but it does help me chill out after a bad day. Diving into fantasyland lets me play god and make my own universe, where I can make whatever I want.

Plus I'm good at it. So, y'know, it kind of makes sense. Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:09 pm

I write because it's a release! I love it, I feel so great when I get caught up in a story and see it come to life. It's the BEST feeling ever! Also if I don't I get the writers itch. That feeling of something building up and demanding to be released. It starts to drive me insane and I have to.

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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:50 pm

I know I am coming late to this thread but I find the question intriguing. For me, I think writing must be some sort of compulsion--although the ghosts that move behind my compulsion are still a mystery to me.

I have always made up stories in my head, but rarely got them on the page--or sometimes I started but didn't finish. Earlier this year, I resolved to finally get started on a novel idea I've been toting around in my hip pocket for awhile. I was finally going to do it.

But it didn't happen like I expected. I had plenty of time and opportunity (where I live now gives me that), but the winter ended and still I had not written a single word. June, July and August each marched by and I managed a total of half a page (what a sad and sorry start that was!). I thought of every excuse in the book not to write--working out, playing video games, writing letters home to the family, sleeping in.

It was a kind of fear that stopped me from writing, I think. I guess this could be classified as a block--similar to what you describe. The images and ideas in the novel rattled my skull in the hours after bed time--sleep be damned--and, at work, my faraway look probably made me the picture of a wayward college student, distant and dreaming. Yet I failed each day to translate the vision to the page.

Finally, I resolved to quit writing--or rather to quit the idea of writing--altogether. I would give it up, look for something else. I would pursue other interests--music, art, bowling. They would have to satisfy. But somehow not having the idea of writing to carry with me each day was worse than having it. This really kept me up at night. Though I tried to lock the whole thing away and forget about it, it just wouldn't die.

I don't know what changed. Maybe I had had enough of my own excuses. Maybe the way I couldn't quite look myself in the mirror in the morning while shaving just didn't sit right with me. But on a Sunday morning in the first week of December, I sat down and made myself up a writing schedule.

Ten pages a week. Not much, but a start. And I've stuck to it so far. And I feel like it's right, you know? Like it's what I should have been doing all along. And so that brings me here. Very Happy So I think that writing must be a wonderful terrible beautiful painful cross that I can't put down, but the high I am on now is pretty amazing.

Sorry for the long post. I guess I got on a roll there. silent Very Happy

Anyway, I'm hoping trading some thoughts and ideas with you good folks will help keep me marching on.
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PostSubject: Re: Why do we write?   Sun Jan 03, 2010 3:16 pm

Jon Paul, thats brilliant! Congratulations!

I had similar experience with writing but recently have come to terms with it lol. I had notions of what i should write and felt i couldn't meet them, so i blocked myself. Now i realise that i should think of writing as a habit to create and not this 'big deal' and allow mistakes to happen Smile

Glad you could join us, remember to pop into the intro section (if you havent already) and start a thread so we can welcome you Smile

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