How Not To Write – Doing Battle With Perfection

Have you ever sat down and written the first three lines of something, only to hit the backspace like a maniac a few moments later? It’s so easy to throw out work if it doesn’t seem to be going in the direction that you want it to, and often that can lead to us spinning in circles, rewriting the same sentence over and over again.

I know this because it’s something I do repeatedly. For example, I’m currently holding my 70,000 word manuscript over the metaphorical bin because I can’t see how it will end. The plot is rambling and half-baked, I’ve got characters that aren’t where they need to be, the whole thing feels like a failure. In short I want to throw it away and start from scratch.

But!

If I do that there’s a good chance I’ll never actually get finishing the damn thing because next time I hit a snag in the draft, I’ll want to start over all over again. Instead I’m going to remind myself of a Neil Gaiman quote that I love, get my head down, and finish that draft one way or another.

StockSnap_CCUEGVL7HU

“Whatever it takes to finish things, finish.

You will learn more from a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished.”

Neil Gaiman

The same applies when writing a blog post.

Yesterday I read a post called 31 Posts in 31 Days on a blog called Always Find The Silver Lining, run by Dominique. In it she finished by asking if anyone had any tips on what to do on those days where you don’t feel inspired or you’re struggling to write.

This a topic that lots of bloggers have tacked before. There are infinite suggestions across the web of things you can do if inspiration is hanging back. Read a book, take a walk, look out of the window… the list is endless and quite frankly, not a huge amount of help when you are stuck for something to write. So instead I thought I’d take the topic on from a different angle and passed on some advice I’d been given, by a Creative Writing Lecturer at Bath Spa University, when I said I was taking part in NaPoWriMo*.

Not everything you write will be good.

It was an honest comment and one that I’m incredibly glad to recieve because I’ve carried it forward with me.

At times we can sit down and write exceptional pieces of work with seemingly little effort. The words spill out with such ease that it can feel like we’re somehow cheating. Then on other days, each word will be a fight to pin down. They will clank against each other, sit awkwardly on the page, and refuse to string themselves into the shapes we want. This is the unfortunate truth about writing and it’s those days where we most want to throw the towel in and not bother finishing that story, poem, or article. It’s also those days where it’s most important that we sit back down and finish, no matter what sort of shape the final product produces for itself.

StockSnap_9PZ3E9U67E (1)

Now, I’m not saying that it isn’t important to try and make each post better than the last. My site in itself is an example of how skill improves over time. I’ve got better at writing because of how much I have written over the years, but progress is not a straight line and treating it as such will only lead to frustration.

 

 The key is knowing that not everything you write will be fantastic. Some days it just won’t work. More often than not you have to work through a bit of sludge to get to the gold.

So if you take anything away from this post, make it this. The next time you want to hit backspace or delete, hit save instead. Come back to it later and finish it then. You never know when that piece of awkward, clunky writing might prove to be the inspirational that you’re looking for.

DraftsA while back I decided to go through the drafts piling up on my WordPress as the number was getting close to three figures and I thought it could do with a clear out. Unfortunately I’m one of those people who’s terrible at titling documents.

Turns out this is a great way of playing inspiration roulette.

Pick an untitled, see what crazy nonsense I was spewing, and throw myself into a free write. Like I said earlier, it might be terrible, it might be great, or it might be just okay.

The point is that I’ll be finishing the things I start, and that will teach me far more than hitting delete.

Retro Typewriter Machine Old Style


*National Poetry Writing Month

“Why does this writer not get more views?”

Have you ever asked yourself that question? I would have thought that it would be a common one to crop up, especially if you’re someone like me spending infinite amounts of time trawling through websites such as Deviant Art, WordPress.com and Fanfiction.net.

I have even been on the receiving end of astonishment from some. Random comments cropping up on whatever piece I’ve recently published, on whichever site I’m using, the author bamboozled by the fact my stats have never really taken off at any great rate. 

Now I know I can write, it’s taken some time for me to listen to the insistant voices in my ears, (namely one of my best friends Jad) but I’ll now admit that I can write pretty dam well. I just haven’t achieved large numbers of readers.

The thing is, I find it bothers me more when I find incredible writing by other people and the reading stats are low. When my own stats plummet, I’m fairly comfortable in the knowledge that there are a group of people out there who I can rely on to enjoy the writing I upload, and they will tell me if they don’t think it’s as good as it could be.

Admittedly, If you trawl through writing sites on a regular basis, you’ll find some atrocious stuff. I have to be in an incredibly good/patient mood to open up my Deviant Art  notifications and work my way through them one by one. More often or not I’ll delete anything that doesn’t grab my attention in the first few lines. This is purely down to limits on my free time and the fact that some of the writing that crops up in my notifications is truly terrible.

Especially when it comes to poetry I find myself reading what seems to be the same thing over and over again, leaving me to wonder if there is any understanding that depression does not have to be the only theme in poetry.

Of course there are also the diamonds that you find hiding in the piles of fool’s gold. These are the writers and artists who keep me from deleting my entire notifications inbox the moment I log into DA and give me hope for the future of writing.

Sometimes I simply like the thought that someone has put into a piece of work, such Akeesha909 who wrote ‘Inspiration’.

Red, Blue, Green
             Every colour becomes a thought
????!!!!!????!!!!
             Every thought becomes a painting
Oil paint, Water paint
             Every painting becomes a masterpiece  
Mona Lisa, Adam and Eve
             Every masterpiece is hung in a museum
The Vatican, The Louvre
             Every museum is filled with colour
Purple, Yellow, Orange
             And every colour becomes a thought

http://akeesha909.deviantart.com/art/Inspiration-300409076

The poem may not be perfect by any means, but I like the way it’s been set out and the theme running through it is refreshingly original. Publishing to Deviant Art is not about putting up works which are polished to perfection, or should be plastered across the pages of best selling novels or anthologies. It is supposed to be a stepping-stone, and a place where you can share what makes you happy and what your passion can achieve. 

Of course there are pieces which tackle the more worrisome issues such as depression, addiction and grief incredibly well. I can cope with reading these and there are some which are fantastically put together and can really connect with a reader. Prose such as ‘147’ by sense-and-stupidity does go some of the way to proving to me that these issues can be taken on and presented, without following the awful cliché’s that seem to litter the online world.

However, one of my favourite pieces of the moment has to be ‘Emily’ by inkedtea. The piece was right at the bottom of my pile of notifications this week, and almost brought me to tears after I read it, (take from that what you will.) Of course I then had to check out her gallery, and thankfully found that she has a beautiful collection of work that is just as wonderful as my initial impression.

All three of these writers have fairly low stats, yet their works contain something that I, at least, hold to be promising. I will defiantly be keeping an eye out for future developments and I advise you all to do the same. The links are there in the text, get clicking and reading, you know you want to.

 

(I hold no claim to the works of these writers, I simply wanted to share my appreciation for their work and talent.)

Hunting for Creativity

Today I wanted to be creative.

I wanted the words to flow

Four am wake ups from rogue ideas

And conceded scribbles to bribe back sleep.

 

I needed the clatter of keyboards

Rattling my mind for the last drops

Waiting for the final thunk of gold

The smudges of ink that pulled a chapter whole.

 

Instead I got the crumpled paper

Of half hearted attempts to write.

Jottings, notes and contradicting plots

Which spin webs of confusion in my mind.

 

Works that once seemed good

Fractured beneath my own acid gaze.

 

I’m supposed to be a writer

Why can I not pin you down?

Where’s my sledge hammer for this block?

How do you bury my words so far beneath ground?

Writers Block, Creative Friends, Art and Literature

Now I was supposed to do this a couple of weeks ago. But for those of you who know me, asking me do get something done that is not deadline specific is close to asking me to do a triple backflip. I may do it, the likelihood of it taking place is just very low. But when it comes to promised favours I just have a sieve like memory, it’s a struggle to keep thoughts from slipping through the cracks.

Anyway, back to the original point of the post. Those of you following will have already seen that some of my friends are somewhat creatively minded, (and completely off the wall.) Now I’ve been told that my blog is apparently drawing in a reasonable amount of traffic (this may be an overstatement) and that as a ‘friend’ it seems reasonable that I will try and introduce those who read my work, to the fantastic works of those I know.

Now I have no problem with this. I really don’t mind including such pieces as Amber Rose’s paintings.

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(www.horseswithmoustaches.deviantart.com)

Her artwork is utterly fantastic and I love the way she uses colours, it’s just when I come to write a post about what a great artists she is… I suddenly loose any ability that I previously had in relation to writing. It is utterly ridiculous! I have three plotlines that I am currently working on, a few others on the backburner, a script for the New Views competition and now and again I will throw out the odd poem or short story to try and extend my writing range. I should really be able to write a post about the brilliance of my friends.

It’s not as if I don’t have plenty of material to work from, it seems that the majority of my close friends are incredible when it comes to drawing or writing, the first of which I hold an extreme amount of jealousy for. If you read the website regularly you will know that Toni has created pretty much all the artwork that has been so far included, even my profile picture. Henry Granger would not be the same without her.

Henry

Miss ‘Resident Pokémon’ Jad Walters is able to create some of the most stunning cartoons that I have ever seen and it never fails to amaze me how little confidence she has in her own talents.  So! MissDemofax-El Wafflecat Izwizmus Twitchypaws the Almighty  I shall remind you once again of your epicness and show to you all that she is as brilliant as I say since I’ve having a post dedicated to my friends. (Am I not wonderful? Yes I know that is so very, very vain.)

 

Don't give a

(http://silver-serval.deviantart.com/)

Owls with attitude!

My friends are not limited just to artists who can draw. I should mention that Miss Walters is also a fantastic story teller, and almost every character she draws has some fantastical background to it and a life story that you could not believe. Trust me, I have heard the tales on many a DT lesson, what goes on within the hallowed walls of her mind is to be bother feared and envied. But as I was saying, writers also make up my immediate of wonderful friends.

For a few weeks now there has been an extra link on my website to a blog of one Kyra Leigh. In her own works, a bit of a berk and an all round procrastinator, but still a great friend and really brilliant writer and aspiring photographer.

Gundrun, daughter of Giuki, has left the world. Through the gateway of a burning pyre, she melted away all wrongs committed against her, leaving only the task to find Sigurd, husband and killer of Fafnir[1], to be done.

 

The Final Lay of Gudrun

by Kyra Leigh

Down on the road to Hel she

Trod, no longer feeling the

Embrace of forests’ worst fear[2].

Towards her first brave warrior she

Went, radiant still in the hall’s

Bleak gloom.

To him, the greatest hero, she

Sought. Not stopping, ever stepping

‘Til the head’s[3] sweet whispers she heard

Buried deep in

Odin’s wisdom wells.

And to him she cries:

“Wise head of Mimir,

Turn your face towards me and answer

This one question.

“Where is my husband, Sigurd,

Slaughtered by my brothers[4] and

Left to feed eager ravens?”

And to her he advised:

“Mourning wife and mother of heroes,

Turn your face away from me

For I shall not speak.

“Until the Doom of Gods[5]

I will keep my silence,

Though a heavy burden it may be.”

And to him she cried again:

“Wise head of Mimir,

Turn your face towards me and answer

Another question, please.

“Where else can I find knowledge

Such as yours. To find my

Husband is all.”

And to her he advised:

“Mourning wife and mother of heroes,

Turn your face away from me

For I shall not speak.

“His betrayer[6], her you must find

Amongst the troll women, cold[7].

For she loved him too.”

Down the road to Hel she

Trod. Colder and paler she became.

Towards her first brave warrior she

Went, shining still under the Ash’s

Vast shadow[8].


[1]In simple terms, a dragon.

[2] FIRE

[3] This is the head of Mimir who, after being beheaded by the Vanir (Most likely for being really irritating ¬¬ ), became an oracle of sorts to Odin.

[4] After they thought that he had been sleeping around with Brynhild, Gunnar’s wife. Gunnar (being a bit of  sap, let’s face it) got Sigurd to pretend to be him and retrieve the lady from a circle of flames. They shared a bed, but never got it on.

[5] Ragnarok! Woop!

[6] Brynhild. When she was eventually told the truth of the matter, she was naturally ticked off and told everyone that she had slept with him when she hadn’t, hence Sigurd’s murder later on. Unfair really, poor bloke.

[7] When she achieved her revenge, Brynhild also topped herself and a load of her servants.

[8] Under the great tree called Yggdrasil which, I suppose you could say, forms the back bone of the worlds. Hel is at its roots.

(kyraleigh.wordpress.com)

(http://justtsuki.deviantart.com/)

When it comes to poetry I often think that she beats me hands down.

Now I would also like to include my other best friend Alice, and my younger (but not little) sister JoJo. But I have no idea where online to find either of them, Jad, Kyra and Amber have all been pretty much electronically thrown at me over the past few months so I couldn’t fail to see them.

Anyway, I hope that you will spend the time to check out some more of their work, Amber’s work is available for purchase and commission, Kyra updates on a fairly regular basis with consistently good stuff and Jad just spits out the odd diamond of brilliance now and again but they really are diamond when she does.  There, I think I’m pretty much sorted in the friendship favours department for a few months at least, see you all soon and keep reading! I have a cup of tea to go make.