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posted by [personal profile] e_underwood at 08:35am on 03/10/2007 under , ,
I was reading a few LJ posts this morning and came across Kate Elliott's advice for new writers (pt 1). What she says smacks of common sense through and through. However, it's so easy to forget that if you want to be a good writer, you need to keep writing in order to improve.

Kate's post has started the wheeling turning in my head (which is always a scary things!), and I decided to write down a few of the biggest challenges that I have faced as a new writer.

Self Analysis. When I first started writing, I would finish a story and think "fantastic!" I would revise it and polish it until it gleamed like a blazing star. Then I would send it out for feedback. Time and again I was shocked that my readers couldn't see what I had done with the storyline. Why couldn't they see the connection between the characters? Why wasn't my character engaging? What do you mean her motivation doesn't make sense? It took A LOT of writing, critiquing, and rewriting in order to get past this stage of my development. If you don't keep pushing forward with the wash, rinse, repeat cycle on your stories, you are never going to improve since you'll never learn how to fix those things that aren't working.

Negative Feedback. After my first fiction writing class in college I decided to stop writing. My instructor told me that what I was writing weren't stories. As it turns out, I was writing scenes, situations, slices of life, etc. After that class I quit writing. That lasted for all of a month, maybe two months max. Then I started writing again, and I'm still writing, and my writing is getting better.

Making the Time. I don't care what anyone says; the most precious commodity that any of us have is time. Time to do the things we need to do, want to do, and will never be able to do. This was my #1 excuse for not writing. I simply didn't have the time. In the past, it would take me 6 months to churn out the first draft of a story. I thought I was a slow writer. I'm not. I know that now. The problem was time and I wasn't giving myself time to write. My day was packed with "to dos" from morning until night. I couldn't rearrange anything in my schedule.

When I started Stonecoast I was forced to make changes. So, I started getting up at 5 am, then at 4 am. Those 1-2 early morning hours are fantastically productive. I can churn out a story in less than a month while revising a second story. I also gave up watching a lot of TV and movies. Other activities were trimmed back too. This is how I found the time to write. It was quite an adjustment, but it was worth it.

Learning to Write Like ME. I can't tell you how much I wanted to write like someone else. It still boggles my mind how much time I spent trying to write like someone else, and during that time I failed to give myself a chance to develop into my own style. It took some heart-breaking moments of self-examination for me to realize that I will never be Hemmingway, or Tolkien, or King, or whoever. I will only ever be me. Once I stopped trying to write like someone else, I noticed that my overwriting stopped, my affectations disappeared, and my stilted language became more natural.

.... and, yes, there is more, but this post is already too long!

What are/were some of your biggest obstacles as a writer?
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