Newbie Writing Jitters

I’ve been feeling a bit off lately and I’m thinking if I can verbalize it here, it might help me sort it out – or at least get it out so it’s no longer going around and around in my head.  Maybe I can also find some valuable insight from someone commenting because that’s happened in places I’ve least expected it and I am more grateful than I can say.

When I first started this blog, it was in an effort to write.  My original goal was to write one blog post a week because I have a project that is forefront in my mind and my biggest reason for doing all of this, and I wanted to devote most of my time to it.  I had certain fears when I started – will people like what I write, am I good enough – that, while mostly under control, still haunt me.  I suspect they will always haunt me to a certain degree, but the fears I had a few months ago have changed and morphed because I now have more information and where my project used to be this shining beacon on the horizon glimmering its beauty into my soul, it is now a black hole of “how the hell do I do this thing!”

I have so many questions!

I have never pursued writing.  I didn’t go to college (well, I did, but it was only a semester and I didn’t have a major so does it really count?).  I wrote pretty well in high school but it was never something I thought was “that thing I do”.   Needless to say, I’m feeling a bit behind the game.  I was dead set on writing at least 300 words a day on my project two months ago. That was the goal to just get me started.  About a week into it, I realized I didn’t have the first clue about writing an actual novel.  Character development?  What’s that?  Oh, you mean we need to know who these characters are?  Their back stories?  If that’s the case, how important are character sheets and do authors use them?

Then there were the gaping holes in my story.  I have an idea with about three different events/plot points and I thought I knew the conclusion.  Those things have been set since I first thought about writing this thing, but when I started really working on it, it started to change.  How do you drive a story and take it from point A to point Z?  I had no idea what the in-between times looked like and it scared me so I started rethinking everything and then I just stopped altogether.  I think the idea is back on track and I have more going on now than I did when I first started, but I feel like I have more questions than answers.  Does everyone feel this much in the dark about writing or is it just my lack of experience?  But then I ask, how do you get experience if not by trial and error?

The other question that loomed its ugly head was how to store all these words once they are written.  This one might just be one of those questions that is stalling the process when it doesn’t need to, but I honestly don’t know.  I had a family member recommend Scrivner and I looked at it, but I feel so overwhelmed by everything.  I mean, I’m using Microsoft Word, but how do you share a document with 90,000+ words?  Do you save them by chapters and have multiple documents?  Perhaps it’s silly to focus on something as simple as storage, but the thought won’t leave me alone!

I have everyone (really it’s like the two people closest to me who got me into this in the first place) saying I need to work on my project because I have “it” (whatever that is) and all the stories are just getting me away from writing it.  Which, in some ways is true, but in others its not.

The stories have given me so much insight into myself, into the way I write and most importantly, they have given me confidence.  I honestly believed two months ago that I wasn’t creative, that all I had was this one story and once it was written I should pack it in and go back to whatever it is I do that isn’t writing or being a Mom.  Writing these stories, stepping out of my comfort zone and just doing it, has helped me so much and I know my project will be better for it in the long run.  But right now, I feel stuck not just in the project, but in writing even flash fiction.  (Or maybe it’s just that one that Chuck posted on Friday that I have zero interest in writing and I should just give a bow and say thank you but no thank you, I will wait for the next one…)  In some ways I feel like if I’m not working on my project, at least I’m writing these short stories, but if I can’t even do that?  Then what do I have?

In between all the angst (if that’s what this is), I’m just feeling a bit green, a bit new to the game.  I suppose we all have the newbie jitters when we first start down an uncharted path and that’s all this really is.  Sometimes, just putting the jumbled mess of words that flit around in my brain down on paper (or in a blog post) helps me move past it and I am actually able to take the first step.  In this case it’s probably like the hundredth step, so maybe I’ll just say the next step.

Since we’re on the subject of steps, I just realized that I probably tried to take the hundredth step before I actually took the first step and now I need to go back and fill in all the holes. See?  An epiphany, even while still working through the chaos.

Anyway, I’ve probably ranted about this enough.

At least I am feeling somewhat better…

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11 thoughts on “Newbie Writing Jitters

  1. We all have these phases of writing jitters. I am a newbie writer too and I can identify with your post. I am working on my first novel and I have found that if I think about things too much (quality of my writing, plot, characters) than I become a gibbering wreck. Sometimes you just need to write and think less!
    Good luck on your journey 🙂

    Like

    • That’s what this post is intended for, even though it may come across as the opposite.

      Thank you for commenting. Always nice to know there are other newbies out there.

      Good luck on your journey as well! 🙂

      Like

  2. Warning, this is going to be a long reply…

    First things first – you tell awesome stories. In fact, I am going to say that again – you tell AWESOME stories. You are easily in my top ten favorite reads on WordPress. Not that I am anyone of importance, but there it is nonetheless. Now, let me ask you a question or three – do you read a lot? Do you read a lot in the genre you are writing in? Do you read a lot outside of the genre you are writing in? It has been my experience that there is no education more powerful than reading to help one be a better writer. If you aren’t reading regularly, you really should – and when you do, do so with a critical eye on the story. How did the author make transitions? How did they tie in different plot elements? What was it that made the characters work for you, or not work for you?

    So, let me ask you an honest question – do you like the way I write? Do you find it interesting, appealing, readable? Fun? Because I never went to college either, more than a few semesters, and all that core classes. Again, we go back to reading – if you read novels, then of course you have an idea of how one is written. you have it, in 50,000+ words, right there on your bookshelf! Character development? That’s easy – its what happens when things happen to your character that they don’t want and they react to it. Simple as that – a story is really, barebones, about conflict. The results of that conflict change who the character is. Your character starts as one person, things happen, his/her world is turned upside down, he/she resolves or is defeated by the conflict, and in the end, he/she is changed from the experience.

    Back stories? Overrated. Sure, they can be helpful to keep your mind on who the character is, but the reader doesn’t care. In fact, backstory can drag the reader down, distract them from the important part of the story – the action! I never use character sheets. I may jot a few notes down to remember things I establish when I write a character, but that’s it.

    Holes in stories happen. Especially in first draft. Remember Chuck’s advice – give yourself permission to suck. You know three different plot points/events/scenes? Write em! Get them on paper. Then look at them and think, huh, to get to that scene from this scene, what has to happen? Oh! It would help if XYZ happened here. So write XYZ. And ah! You know, if A and B happened in the beginning, then I can transition here with C! Write all three! Fill in the holes as you can, but keep going. Experience is gained by doing. Get the words down. Worry about holes and such after you’ve got the bones of the story down.

    Storing words? Ahhhh…wait. I smell something. And that something is fear. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of getting to the end and hating it. Fear of other people hating it. Fear of…you know, let’s just distract ourselves. I mean, what if this thing is so huge it breaks the internet! Yes, yes, let’s worry about that instead – the program we’re writing in! Yes, that’s it. I clearly can’t write until I figure out the perfect program to write in…

    I only know that the above is true because I have done the exact same thing. I screwed around with programs and installers and the like for so long I could have written manuals for the things. The whole time, what it really was, was fear. Kick fear in the nuts. Write in what you have and are comfortable with. Word files are ridiculously small, especially in the age of high speed broadband internet.

    Thsoe two people. Let me ask you another question – are they writers? Are they published? Do they have creds in the whole word monkeying business? Because let me tell you something – non-writers are full of advice on how to be writers. And all of it sucks. If they aren’t writers, then they know nothing about the craft. They can’t understand the power of momentum or confidence. They can’t realize that writing, like ANY exercise, becomes easier with the development of a habit. When you write long enough and often enough that it makes you feel bad when you skip it? Then you can stop writing other stories, because you’ll have reached the point where you will write on your main story, even if what you are writing sucks, because thats how you get your habit satisfied.

    Next, about short stories. Confidence is sexy. Confidence also breeds more confidence. It is NOT a bad thing to build up your confidence by writing something that isn’t your main story. It’s also really good to stretch your writing muscles and reach into new genres and territories. To challenge yourself with deadlines. To write about something that normally wouldn’t inspire you. Oh, and hey, it’s totally cool to skip a challenge now and then. I didn’t write anything for the Infocomm one – I just didn’t like anything I came up with and decided to give it a pass. But don’t give up on them completely. They make you write. Writing is good. Not writing, bad.

    So. Where does that leave us? With this: Give yourself permission to suck. Everyone started green. Hemingway did not erupt from the womb as a master wordsmith. He sucked too. He just kept at it till he sucked less.

    And last, your stories are awesome. 🙂

    Like

    • Wow, Mark, you really know how to reply to a ranty, angsty blog post! 🙂

      I tend to overthink everything and this is no exception. I overthink it even more when it’s something I love and want to work more than anything. I read a TON of books. I read all sorts which is probably why, even to my own surprise, I have been able to stretch boundaries in my stories and write things I didn’t think I could. Everything you said is everything I already know and things I tell myself daily. It helps, though, to hear them coming from someone else. I KNOW I can do this, I just get myself so caught up in the minute details that I freak myself out and then doubt sets in. I know we all go through it and all I can say is I hope I can be the same voice you’ve been for me for someone else in the future.

      Thank you for your words of support. You have been a huge voice for me since I started and I don’t know that I can ever repay that.

      And, I LOVE your stories! So, there’s that. 😉

      Like

  3. I spent a semester and a half in college. My major was English, and I had a concentration in Professional Writing –

    And then I realized that no one could teach me how to write. They could only teach me how others had done it.

    Each of us comes with our own unique voice, our own experiences, and our own stories. We also all have our own ways of telling them.

    For your plotting issues, I have a suggestion that may or may not work for you. When I felt stuck in a similar place, I found Rock Your Plot to be very useful. It’s only $2.99 on Amazon as an ebook, and it has room for plotting and inspiration.

    I don’t try to drive my stories – I’m more interested in inviting my characters in, and hoping they’ll let me be a little part of their lives. I like to let scenes play out for quite a while, until they need to be written, and have tied into other scenes.

    I have a framework, but it tends to undergo nearly constant tweaking – and I let that happen The framework is secondary to inspiration, for me.

    In the end, I think you will find what works for you. It doesn’t matter what I say, or anyone else says. It matters what feels right, for you

    You have the talent You can do this! =D

    Like

    • I think I had a serious revelation last night – I always do this. I over think something to the point where it becomes unbearable. I know my post yesterday was an attempt to expel the negative thoughts and to move forward and I think it worked in many respects. But I was still entirely too focused on “how to write” rather than “just writing”. I’ve decided to take a small break from flash fiction and work on setting down the scenes I know and then going from there. In being so worried about how to do it, I’m not even doing it!

      I felt the same way about college – it was all so geared towards a professors’ point of view and what they thought was correct, when really, I wanted to find my own voice. That’s not to say that college is useless, it just wasn’t for me, necessarily.

      I ended up ordering that book. I do appreciate the information and the words of encouragement. It really helps to hear from writers who have the same or similar struggles. My boyfriend just doesn’t quite get it sometimes. 🙂

      Like

      • I’ve been married for 17 years, almost, and my chef husband still doesn’t get it. Fortunately, he’s willing to support me in my creative endeavors – but I look to other writers to ‘get it’.

        His idea is thaat writing should b like a recipe. His ingredients never ever exert a will of their own, the way my characters do! =)

        Happy to be of help. =)

        Like

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