As always when I’m reading other writers’ blogs, reading writing forums, or even just comments on my own blogs, the differences between myself and other amateur writers strike me. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of similarities. I think having self-doubts and times of uncertainty and difficulty with the creative process comes pretty much packaged with the territory. But I also have problems that have nothing to do with this doubt, this overriding uncertainty. (Well, not more than anything that is directly tied together via my brains can be unrelated).
So, common writing issues I don’t have:
Voice- I gots one. All my writing sounds like me. Sometimes it all sounds a bit too much alike, which is something I’m working on. My writing has a surreal tone to it, however. I’m good with that, though I am working on varying character more.
Ideas- I has them. Many writers often complain about getting the question of “where do you get your ideas from?” constantly. I don’t think I’ll ever ask someone this question. In fact, I’d put ideas under problems in some ways. I have too many. I don’t know if I will ever get all the stories inside me out onto a page in coherent fashion. Some of the ideas are no more than an image, a quick clip of film in my head, or perhaps a character standing alone on the black screen of my mind. (She’s there right now, dripping blood all over everything from a pretty nasty looking gash in her left arm. Don’t know who she is, but someday I will.) I don’t think I’ve ever had writer’s block in the traditional sense. The ideas are always there. I always have images and stories in my mind to work with.
Internal Editor- Not really a problem. During NaNoWriMo I love to read the forums even when I’m not participating. People constantly whine about not knowing how to turn off the internal editor. I found NaNo to be no issue at all because I’m pretty sure turning on my internal editor is the hard part. My novel might have gone better if I’d been listening the quiet voice inside of me instead of rabidly smashing words into the computer.
Getting Discouraged- It happens. It also isn’t a huge problem. I tend to decide I’m going to quit forever about once a month. Like my wrath, this feeling generally passes within minutes, often followed by another stream of those plaguey ideas. In fact, if anything discourages me it is the flow of ideas around me constantly. I feel like a cheetah stuck in a stampeding herd of zebra. Too many ideas, too many images. So hard to choose just one to bring down and bleed out. That can be quite discouraging. And sure, I never know if I’ll be good enough to satisfy myself. I write because something inside me compels me to do so. I don’t think I could stop, I’ve certainly never been successful at stopping in the past.
Those seem to be the main issues people write about with writing. So many books are dedicated to helping beginning writers work through these issues.
And now, writing issues I do have.
I think in images. And not just silent paintings moving through my head, but I mean full sensory images that I can see, touch, taste, hear, smell. Sometimes they are as real to me as the world around me. Sometimes they become almost a part of the world around me. (A lifetime of dealing with them has trained me to distinguish most of the time, and boy does my sanity thank me. Also, so do people who drive with me in my car *grin*). The flow is often fast, more of a flood swollen river than a lazy summer stream. It can be hard for me to get full pictures before things move past me and other voices and worlds crowd in for attention. I don’t always have the full story, the how and why of it. My writing shows this. I think that this is often one of its huge weaknesses. It’s clear in my rough drafts that I don’t always know the why behind the what, so things are flatter than they could be. To me this is a problem inherent in the translation of things. I have to take the ideas from my head and put them into words. Image to language. This is, for me, an actually physically painful process sometimes. I get huge headaches if I’m pushing things too hard. Then comes frustration and the delete key. (Used to be fire. I’ve burned many stories and plays). Training myself as a translator between my head and my writing is an ongoing and scary part of it. Getting the images to communicate themselves the way I see them is difficult. I struggle with this constantly. I’m not sure I’ll ever have it perfect, and yeah, that frustrates me daily.
My hatred of editing my own work. I really do starve and kick my internal editor. I’m perfectly capable of editing other people’s work. Editing while translating/writing, however, is really hard for me. I require a lot of distance and input on my own work before I can ever begin to process how to improve it beyond grammar and basics. Fortunately lately I’ve had a few people willing to read my stuff and offer good feedback. It is starting to smooth the editing process. I’m going to work on letting the editor out while I’m writing on this novel rewrite. This is definitely an area I could improve on.
Characters not ideas. Right now my characters tend to fall into pretty archetypal categories. Some of this is because I keep writing based on themes or images I get and not with the characters themselves as the focus. Part of this can likely be blamed on 7 years of college studying archetypes and themes. I’m working on getting into the heads of my characters more, of dragging it out of them instead of just letting them tell me whatever they think I need to know and leaving the rest obscure. I’m not sure characterization will ever be one of my strong suits, sadly. I hope that I’ll have some sort of breakthrough eventually on how to write the kind of unique and memorable characters I love to read about. This is definitely up there on my ‘worries about my writing’ list.
So there you have it. Those are the main issues I have with my writing and with the writing process. (Also known as the post where I use the word ‘issues’ way too many times, gah.)