Insecure Writers Support Group October 2013


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Huge thanks as ever to the wonderful Alex J Cavanaugh for hosting the group πŸ™‚ I will try to get round as many of you as I can today.

Another month has absolutely flown by, but I don’t mind, I love autumn, when I can wrap up warm and drink endless amounts of hot chocolate. It also signifies the run up to Nanowrimo, and I’m excited this year because (1) I’ll be using Scrivener to write the whole thing and (2) I think I’m really going to enjoy writing this one πŸ™‚

So what am I insecure about this month?

I guess, just my abilities lol. Ive had lots of lovely comments recently to the pieces of fiction I’ve been posting on my blog, but I still think that I’m a pretty shit writer lol. My grammar and punctuation absolutely SUCK and don’t even talk to me about Adjectives and Adverbs, I’ll have to go and look up what they are! πŸ˜‰ I write as I speak (so all my characters have a β€œsowf eas Lunden” accent) and my vocabulary is limited to words of under 4 syllables. Add all that to the fact that I haven’t really got a clue what genre I write and I cant do endings and I’m pretty much in a mess lol

I keep telling myself….“Vik, you’ve only been writing for 3 years (this month) so stop beating yourself up, you just need to learn more.” But I’m impatient, and I don’t know how to learn. I thought the Faber class would teach me how to be a better writer, but all it did was make me feel shitter than I already did and not really tell me how to correct my mistakes 😦

Practice, yeah, thats what I need, but I’ve been writing virtually every single day since I started. I added it up recently and in 2012 I wrote approximately 450,000 words! I should be a bloody expert by now! (Joke! Don’t I need to study for 10,000 hours to claim that?) Lol. Don’t get me wrong, my writing has improved, or I hope it has.

Perhaps its just my style…simple…basic…perhaps I’ll never be able to write the kind of prose I aspire to? Perhaps I’m only capable of supermarket fiction, the stuff that the normal woman in the street picks up when she buys her sausages (but saying that, even the women’s magazines don’t want my stuff lol).

So where does that leave me? People keep saying I should finish all the snippets that I post on here. But what you see on here is only the tip of the iceberg on what I have in my 43 notebooks. I don’t know where to start. Which ones are worth continuing with. Hell, I don’t even know how to edit! The stuff I post has had a spell check and that’s it. I’m at a loss to how I improve a piece through editing.

Ok, I’ll shut up now. This is turning into a major self pity trip, and apparently, if a perspective Agent or Publisher is reading this I’ve just blown all my chances. Fake it till you make it don’t they say? But thats not me, what you see is what you get….a bit like my writing πŸ˜‰

Any ideas on how I can improve it? Is good writing something that can be learnt?

What are you feeling insecure about today?

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52 thoughts on “Insecure Writers Support Group October 2013

  1. I’m not doing NaNo this year – am using what I wrote last year to re write The Soul Collector’s Second Chance. Anyway at the rate I’m going won’t have time to do my presentation paper due Nov 11 until Nov. I’ve also been writing for a few years.
    Yes writing can be learned

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  2. Pick the one story that you are most passionate about. Having spoken with many authors…successful ones, that is what they do. Passion drives the pen. I does for me also. Is there a particular character or scene that you have fallen in love with? Is there one plot that really speaks to you? You will find that, and none of this other stuff about editing, writing rules and crap will matter…you’ll deal with that later, or let somebody else deal with it. Today I am insecure about letting others have some control over the production of my paperback…yes, call me a control freak if you like, It doesn’t bother me, half as much as leaving my child with a nanny who is tending 50 other children.

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    • Thanks honey πŸ™‚

      Oh gawd, yeah, there are quite a few that im passionate about lol, too many probably πŸ˜‰

      Ooooo, yeah, that must be quite hard, its your baby! Ha ha ha, love that comparison πŸ˜‰

      xx

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  3. What great advice, sk nicholls! And I think that’s exactly it–when you start writing the story that is closest to your heart, all of your worries about adjectives and adverbs will disappear in your frenzy to just get it down. The rest can be learned and edited!
    I love that you write the way you talk, and even envy that a bit. Except that it is wrong to try and compare oneself with other writers, which is what you might be doing. That only leads to frustration.
    One of the best things about writing has to be that doing what you love–writing–gets you better at it. We are all learning together one insecure month at a time. You will keep getting better and better, just keep writing. πŸ™‚

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  4. Please peel yourself up off the pavement on that major pity party. Hope you went and had some chocolate or cake after you wrote that post. You’re doing the number one best bit of advice I’ve seen…just write. I think it matters more than a lot of the other stuff. The only other thing I’d say is follow your heart…write what it calls you to write and finish what’s most important to you. Don’t feel bad about other writing you leave by the way side…it’s never wasted. It’s all practice and one day, if it strikes your fancy, you might pull something back out and be drawn to work on it some more.

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  5. I have many of the same insecurities. I look at other people’s writing and think “Wow, I really suck compared to this.” But then I realize everyone has a different style and there “has” to be people that would appreciate mine. Yes, writing can be learned, but your style is yours.

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  6. Everyone has some great points Vikki but I’m still going to repeat them because you ask if you can learn as a writer and the answer is, This is how you learn. You no doubt have a favourite piece of writing, something you feel is on the way to a story you’d want to read. Take that and leave all others to one side. Work on finishing it by heart and soul. Don’t worry about punctuation or anything other than the storyline and a great ending.
    Once it’s finished read it slowly and enjoy it. This is where you’ll pick up your punctuation errors, the mis-spellings and any other errors. It’s also the chance you may want to take to tighten up certain paragraphs or chapters. If you can afford to send it to an editor. If not, then send it to a couple of beta readers for their opinion and comments. You can decide whether the comments will improve things at this point and make any changes. Read it again yourself looking out for any more little mistakes and either submit to a publisher or prepare to self publish.
    There is a point at which we become happy with our work because reading it makes us happy and the beta-readers have given their approval. At that point I think we have to have faith in ourselves and risk it. A publisher who rejects it may not be rejecting because the work is bad but because it’s not for them. Don’t let rejection put you off. You KNOW you can write from the comments on here, now YOU have to believe it.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

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  7. Don’t worry about the editing too much, if you can’t afford to send it off to an editor I’m sure you have beta readers who will pick up on any major issues that you’ve missed. Also once you’ve finished putting a story together stick it in a draw for a few months and then go back to it then.

    And to quote Mur Lafferty, an awesome writer, it’s okay to suck. We all get better the more we write πŸ™‚

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  8. You can’t work against your natural style (as I’ve learnt from bitter experience) – you can learn and improve and refine it. But you can’t fake a completely different voice. If you have a simple, oral style – that is great! So much better than the overly complicated, verbose style I have, believe me! Have you read Denise Mina’s Garnethill trilogy?The freshest, most glorious narrative voice in precisely that style (the oral one, I mean).

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  9. Sending a hug. Looking forward to NaNo too. If you get the answers let me know. I find I write better when I’m happy with me and who I am. Every time I try to be something else I fail miserably. I’m not great at short stories, but that’s not surprising I don’t really enjoy reading them as I like getting to know the characters. Took me a while to work that out. I’ve decided to enjoy the journey and look at the view. Every time I tell myself “I must…”, the train stops because there’s leaves on the line. So, have you written about a girl from the South East in first person then? What about diary or blog form? Plenty of mileage in that.

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    • Thanks Rachel, i needed that hug πŸ™‚

      Ha ha ha, yeah, my first novel was in 3rd person and then i changed it to first, wrote 24,000 words in that format and HATED it lol. My Nano novel this year has a narrator, but will switch between 1st and 3rd, so im hoping that will help.

      Oh totally, i am enjoying the journey (believe it or not) because i love writing, for all my moaning πŸ˜‰

      xx

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  10. Okay, let’s get practical here. If you’re worried about spelling/grammar etc, I’m happy to work with you on that – this is an offer to help you edit/correct your work and teach you how to do it. But in return I would really like some lessons on characters – you create such wonderful characters I’m eternally envious of how you can sum up in a few lines what a person is like, hint at their back story and make them someone I want to learn more about.
    How about it?

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    • Ha ha ha, i knew you’d have a practical answer for me Lin πŸ™‚

      Ok, that is a deal! I wont have anything til after Nano, but im happy to help you with characters whenever you want. Im coming down to HB for a Nano write in next month πŸ™‚

      xx

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  11. I know where you are coming from here – it never seems as good on paper as it is in your head and what you aspire to is never quite reached. No one’s writing is perfect but remember that yours is accessible, colourful and engaging – a great place to start! Keep at it and take the pressure off. This is something I struggle with too – it looks like I am doing nothing and achieving nothing but it is best just to keep at it and remember: it is meant to be fun (apparently!!)

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  12. Vikki, I recently reread my first book that came out in the mid ’80s. I didn’t know then that you couldn’t put four POVs into one paragraph. Things get better. You will improve. What’s so important about words with more than four syllables? Pretentious snots. Soldier on!

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  13. I also have a problem with grammar and punctuation, but that doesn’t make me any less of a good writer and it doesn’t make you any less of a good writer either. You can write beautifully and still have poor grammar. Writers definitely do learn along the way and get better as they keep writing. If you were to look at something you wrote three years ago I bet you’ll laugh because you’ll see just how much you’ve grown. Sometimes we don’t think so, but it’s true. What you can do to improve is to keep writing and reading. I know, that’s a cliche answer, but it works. If you don’t give up, you’ll get better. Also finding someone to proof read could also help you learn about grammar. And who cares if your vocabulary only consists of words that are four letters long? As long as you have a thesaurus or the internet to look up synonyms you’ll be just fine. πŸ˜‰

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  14. Keep reading and reading and reading, all types of fiction. Words and grammar sink into the sub- conscious over time.
    By the way, you use plenty of words longer than four letters πŸ˜‰
    I’m feeling insecure about the usual — what if I’ve spent the last nine months writing a novel that everybody hates? The facebook critiquing group I belong to, have been asking for the opening chapters for the last couple of months, but I’m not letting them see them until I’ve completed my readthrough of the entire novel in case they say they hate the opening and I dump the project.

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  15. There are writers and there are story tellers (both struggle with differing issues)
    Like artists, the more you perform, the more it becomes comfortable, and you relax – so things flow. Stress and worry create mental blocks. Also the more you are around creative people, the more it seems to rub off…vibes bounce back and forth or something. Sarahpotter is right about reading, too (that counts as hanging out with writes – and looking at masterpieces and jogs ideas)
    Just write. And take a walk to look around outside – that freshen the brain and eyes so you can spot stuff.
    You’ll be fine – it’s the change of seasons unsettling people right now

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  16. You can definitely learn the craft of writing but you need what comes from inside too, otherwise it becomes formulaic. If you’re concerned about grammar, vocabulary, etc,, you could do a creative writing course (if you haven’t already). Or just keep at it with the thesaurus to hand! You have to write in your own way, there’s no point us writing like someone else. If you ever want to send me anything to look at I’d be happy to mark it like I mark the kids’ work at school! (Truly, I’d be happy to help – grammar-wise, vocab, sentence structure etc. Not pretending I’m an expert but I’m not bad at it!) Just email or FB me x

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    • Thanks Linda,

      Ive done a few courses now but none of them have really covered grammar ad punctuation, its like they just assume you know it all lol

      Awwwww, thank you so much honey, i might just take you up on that! The last 2 years of Nano ive really learnt from, so this year, things will be different, and i WILL be sending it out to Beta readers, so if that offer still stands come early next year? πŸ˜‰

      xx

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  17. You just have to change your perspective, so what if some people know words with more than four syllables the reality is they will be faced with a choice if they use them they will significantly decrease their market or they can leave them act and act like us mere mortals. I read some thing I have written one day and love it, the next it takes all my self restraint not to delete the whole lot., what I would say on a more practical level is have you considered putting the novel to one side for now and maybe looking at writing some short stories, maybe if you get one or two published or into competitions and get some good feedback it will give you the confidence to take back to the longer work.

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    • Thanks Paula πŸ™‚

      Yeah, i did that with both my novels, but i found if i left them too long i found it hard to get back into them lol. So with Nano this year i’ll be having a month off. The plan is to not stop until i finish it, and then leave it for a month, and then straight away start revising/editing (i’ll muddle through lol) and then send it out to Beta readers. Well, thats the plan at least lol

      xx

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  18. Hi Vikki, don’t do yourself down! You wouldn’t have so many followers if you were s**t. I really think you should consider self-publishing one or two things and see what happens. I’m going to try to get my next book out on my birthday in October, so that gives me something to aim for. Why not try it under a pen name if you’re shy?

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  19. Heya Vikki!
    You speak to my heart today, because I’ve found with finishing my first draft that I have spent so much time spewing out stuff (say, two years for this one and probably eight years before that) – that my technique has suffered significantly. I’m in the same boat crying out for help. That being said – A friend once told me that the way you recognize that you have a gift or talent is to think about what you do that you enjoy and find easy that other people think is hard. Well – I don’t think writing is easy- but I enjoy it and I DO it – which means it’s a greater talent for me than the people who never actually write. If writing is my talent – well, I can always get better – it’s one of my life’s journeys by default – and it doesn’t qualify as a journey if it doesn’t take time and energy to get there. So I guess, I’m just saying, hang in there, keep trying and don’t take any of your writing for granted. Even if it’s not the golden piece, it is another step on your journey, and as long as you keep moving forward, you will reach the end. Good luck!

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  20. I love the phrase ‘I don’t know how to learn’ – I feel the same a lot of the time, I just want to rush to the end, to the point where I know all the stuff.

    I’m sure you have improved, I’ve recently looked back at an old review and been surprised by how underdeveloped the style of my writing looked. You don’t always appreciate the distance you travel when you take one step at a time, but when you look back properly you can appreciate the distance!

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  21. The key, Vikki, is that you’re sticking with it. Most great writers I know are always down on themselves because they see what their writing could be, forgetting that the rest of us just see what is there, and quite often like it! So keep on!

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  22. You are a great writer, Vikki. Your character descriptions always interest me and I like how you often enjoy less than happy endings. πŸ™‚ We can always improve, but that doesn’t mean what you have now is not exciting to people who read it.

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  23. You know, I suspect that your big issue is that you’re not playing to your strengths. Yes, you might have a simpler way of saying things, but sometimes, simplicity can be the most poetic.

    Don’t try to write like other people. Write like you. And who says you can’t write some amazing prose with woman’s fiction style? It might just end up being the new fresh thing people are looking for.

    Also, if you’re going to be this critical of yourself, there’s no way you’re going to finish a book. You need to put that self-criticism away, pick a story and just write it. Once you’ve finished writing it, you’ll learn how to edit. And then you would have grown a lot as a writer already.

    Best of luck!

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