Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Writing Wednesday: Everything I write sucks

This is a thought that every writer gets from time to time. To make it worse sometimes it's true.

Different writers have offered ideas to get around this.

One of my professors, Robert W Walker, said just free write something and throw it away. It takes the pressure off and you can remember why you love writing. I've used this many times. The funny thing is a lot times the stuff I write that way is really good. That's how I wrote, THE GENIE AND THE BREADSTICKS.

An agent from the 40's whose book I read in high school, I can't remember which one, said to write whatever crap comes to mind and publish it. The reading the reviews of stuff you think sucks takes away the fear. When you get the worst possible reviews you will see that they can't hurt you. The act of exposing your worst stuff makes you try harder. I've been thinking of doing that under a pseudonym. But I worry people will actually like the stuff I think is garbage.

Stephen King, in his book ON WRITING says the secret to writing is to write faster than the suck. If you write fast enough you'll be done before the self-doubt takes over.

I friend of mine in high school, Lee Lewis, had a way of getting around that. He read Stephen King. It's known as lowering the bar. It actually works with any popular writer that you think isn't that talented. Stephen King's works are best to use because there was a time when he was so coked up he was throwing out gibberish and was so famous it was being published.

One thing I do is read the very early works of some of my favorite writers. It's a hell of a boost to see stuff you loved reading with a critical eye. You can see a million mistakes but also see what made it work.

These techniques work if the problem is that you doubt your writing in general. Sometimes there are other problems. A problem I had with MIND THIEF was I hated one of the characters. So I killed her many times. I finally did find a way to turn her into a character that fulfilled an emotional need of my main character. I needed to kill her several times to really bring out why she deserved to live.

Some times the problem is external. Sometimes the stress of life can catch up with you and everything, not just writing, can seem terrible. Luckily writing can actually help with that.

With REPOSSESSING SANITY I thought of Bank of America and How they were doing everything they can to ruin my life because I was 45 days late in paying my mortgage three and a half years ago. I thought of the all the things I would love to do to the company if it were a real person. Frankly I had more fun writing it than reading it.

So how do you get past the “everything I write sucks” phase? Here's a little exercise to try.

This is a classic horror or comedy situation, I write both and have trouble telling them apart. Take something so ordinary that its cliché. How about three people sitting at the dining room table eating dinner. But things aren't as they seem. Why not?

What if two of the people are guests? What if one is the physical manifestation of the host's greatest fear? Death? Loss? Abandonment?

What if the other is the host's hopes and dreams?

In this ordinary setting these three have to come to terms with each other or they will all die. Very surreal and a reflection of the person that will be very powerful and emotional. All set in as ordinary a setting as possible.

If you'd like to try this feel free to send it to me at project.savior (at) yahoo (dot) com.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

1 comment:

Stephanie Barr said...

For me, I need to step back and do something different. I have to do the same thing if I think, as I sometimes do, that everything I write is FANTASTIC!

Some times one just can't get perspective. I often read favorites I know are good or try something different, sometimes go out of writing altogether and find something different until I regain my equilibrium.