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Lies, Underwear, and First Drafts

Sharing 21 LIES WRITERS TELL THEMSELVES

Love #2: All you need to be a writer is talent.

"Despite the success of many untalented writers, this myth persists.

"No, you need to be persistent, and writing needs to matter above other things. Most often, talent only means that you can do easily what others work hard to achieve—and this almost always means you don’t value it the way others do. You probably don’t even know how you do what you do. Talented people are often very frustrating to work with because they lack good work habits.

If you find you're talented, learn to work your tail off. And if you’re not (or don’t think you are), work your tail off—persistent people usually learn to do what talented people can do."


Though I don't agree with this part--this almost always means you don’t value it the way others do (I never take it for granted)--I can't argue with this: You probably don’t even know how you do what you do.

Because I don't. When I write something that turns out well, I can't begin to explain why it turned out well. The position of the stars? I drank enough caffeine. Maybe my serotonin levels are through the roof. I don't know, I don't know.

The thing is, the opposite is also true. When I write utter crap, I never know why or how I wrote it. Worse, I often can't even tell that it's crap. When I do recognize it, I don't know why it's crap. Someone else may read it over and think it's just hunky-dory. I look at it and think: This sucks. What was I thinking?

It used to drive my teachers nuts.

Them: What's wrong with this sentence, Jeannine?

Me: It's written all wrong.

Them: Written wrong how?

Me: I dunno. It looks wrong.

Them: No, it doesn't just "look" wrong. You have to be more specific.

Me: Specific?

Them: Yes. What--specifically--is wrong with this sentence?

Me (pondering): Well...specifically...it's a totally crap sentence.

More often than not, I don't know how to fix my own crap sentences, or plot lines, or conversations, or whatever I'm trying to write. 90% of my deleted scenes are scenes I simply don't know how to uncrappify.

Having just recently started a fifth novel (no, #4 isn't finished, so hold the cheers, lol) I'm dealing with crap in an near-overwhelming way. But that's what first drafts, right? No reason to freak out...yet.

MESSAGE TO MYSELF: It's a First Draft! You are Permitted to Write Crap.
 
The rest of this article (thank you, Tina W, for posting this on Facebook) is a stitch. Might I just add, though, regarding #2, that I never sat around in my underwear, writing. I doubt female writers do that, unless they wear boxers. I write in pajamas, or else fully dressed.*

*This same rule applies to driving. Smiley

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Patrick Dilloway
Oct. 17th, 2012 02:11 pm (UTC)
That would be really awkward to go into Panera Bread to write in your underwear.
onegrapeshy
Oct. 17th, 2012 03:14 pm (UTC)
It would be awkward enough sitting at my kitchen table, lol. Those wooden chairs, yanno...
another_wip
Oct. 17th, 2012 03:40 pm (UTC)
Talent and writing
"Might I just add, though, regarding #2, that I never sat around in my underwear, writing. I doubt female writers do that, unless they wear boxers. I write in pajamas, or else fully dressed.*

*This same rule applies to driving."

Might I add...Thank God! LOL
I am always dressed...in something...when I write. Probably mostly because I have to write around, during, and through the rest of what passes for my life, LOL.

And I SO understand your points. I never know why I write something in a specific way. Because it 'feels' right? Or, if it is lousy, why it is? It simply IS.

I do think God-given talent is very under-rated. Some people simply DO have a way with words in the same way others have a way with painting, or needlework, or gardening. It doesn't give you a free pass. You still have to work to perfect your craft, but others shouldn't totally dismiss how amazing it is if someone DOES possess talent.

Anyway, thanks for sharing. And I am VERY excited about #5...and waiting to meet Bernadine. (did I get that right?) ;)
onegrapeshy
Oct. 22nd, 2012 03:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Talent and writing
Well, she's got an extra R in her name (BernaRdine) but hey, YOU know how I change names fifty times during a WIP... :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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