Lost my knack for writing - Mothering Forums
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 13 Old 04-18-2009, 11:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
lach's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: MA
Posts: 2,042
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I used to be a very good writer. In high school and college. And I don't even think "a good writer for a teenager," I think I actually was a really good writer. Both fiction and non fiction. I won awards, had a chance to be published that I kind of blew (long story), and had really good things said about my writing by some relatively impressive people.

I took a few years off, and then decided to write a novel for NaNoWriMo, and it was just awful. Really, truly awful. Even my mother, who I sent a chapter to in hopes that maybe I was just being too hard on myself, was hard pressed to say something nice (and she's normally very supportive!) So I started writing some short stories, and some essays, and it's all just awful. Stilted prose, 2nd grade vocabulary, difficult to follow. I started a blog, thinking that I probably just need practice and discipline, and it's so bad (it's really just about me and my kids, with some book reviews and some discussion about parenting in general: it's not like I'm trying some crazy purple prose thing!) that I've made it private.

I feel very depressed about this. Writing was always very cathartic for me, and I always considered it something that I would get back to, and try to do professionally. But I've completely lost whatever talent I had, just at the point where I'd really like to make a go of it. So many people that I've known for a long time bring it up, and it just makes me sad. My family and husband say "I don't understand why you stopped writing, you should send your stories off/write a book/get a job writing." People I haven't seen in a long time ask if I'm still writing, and all I can do is smile and say "I wish I had the time!" and change the subject.

Does anyone else feel like they should have more talent than they actually do? I feel like one of those child prodigies who grows up to be normal, even though I don't actually think I was a child prodigy! I just had a talent that I seem to have lost. Do you think there's any hope in getting it back?

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
lach is offline  
#2 of 13 Old 04-18-2009, 11:51 PM
 
ChampagneBlossom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 488
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I could have written your post. And I have no idea how to get it back!
ChampagneBlossom is offline  
#3 of 13 Old 04-19-2009, 12:05 AM
 
Krisis's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Utah
Posts: 1,135
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
me too me too me too. it makes me really depressed

Kris - married to Nate since 12/06, mom to Toby since 1/08. Also servant to two felines. Done having babies for medical reasons.

Krisis is offline  
#4 of 13 Old 04-19-2009, 12:09 AM
 
allgirls's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 9,486
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Do you think it's because you are uninspired? I can't write for beans unless I'm inspired. I can write technically, you know, put together a proper sentence, form dialogue but there is nothing of substance. But when I'm inspired it comes and it's automatic and perfect.

Inspiration needs to be cultivated and for a long time I didn't have time for that. Life was to busy to allow my creative spirit to come though(inspiration means literally to be "in spirit")

For me what works is time alone in nature(usually running does it for me) but a walk works, and reading great literature, looking at beautiful art, watching people, meditation, yoga...all sorts of things that get me in touch with the writer in me, the creator in me.

If you read my blog you can probably spot when I was inspired and when I wasn't. It comes and goes. It usually comes in large amounts when I come out of a difficult time. And then wanes for a while, it's not steady for me.

Good luck. I hope you get it back. It's in there if you look in the right place.
allgirls is offline  
#5 of 13 Old 04-19-2009, 11:47 PM
 
ceilydhmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,411
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
For me it's about reading. When I don't have time to read my writing suffers. I loves words and the feeling and thoughts they evoke in me - but they lose their magic when I'm not immersed.

I also had a really hard time when I switched from writing for the fun of it to writing for cash. It took time for me to find my way back to simply loving the craft of writing.

My best suggesting would be to read inspiring things then write on specific topics without judgment or expectation.
ceilydhmama is offline  
#6 of 13 Old 04-20-2009, 09:55 AM
 
allgirls's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 9,486
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I agree...read read read...forgot that!
allgirls is offline  
#7 of 13 Old 04-20-2009, 11:02 AM
 
midnightwriter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: midnight
Posts: 1,303
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
While I empathise with your frustration, I'm not fully understanding what's the problem is. You used to write a lot and well; then you took a break, now you are enjoying writing again, but are not happy with the outcome. Your examples leave me confused. You seem to be aware of the particular shortcomings of your writing. Do you revise when you recognise them? What happens then? When you are not happy with your word choices, what do you do to fix them? Are you maybe expecting to be able to write a perfect first draft? If yes, then maybe your expectations are too high. First drafts are first drafts. NaNoWriMo first drafts are even worse . After that you revise and edit and polish and polish, until it is perfect.

I also don't particular agree with needing inspiration. Inspiration is lovely, but as busy moms we don't always have the luxury of waiting for one. And most professional writers who have deadlines don't have this luxury either. What is important is habit and practice. Do you write daily? Do you have a word limit that you want to achieve each writing session? In the same way as playing piano scales improves your technique, regular writing improves your technique as well. Soon your first drafts won't be as bad, and you will require less editing and polishing. Edit: But again, don't expect a perfect first draft when you do this, and spend equal time revising. I don't think frequent, desciplined writing will necessarily improve your skills unless you also spend time revising and focusing on the craft.

One more thing about inspiration--sometimes I'm inspired by an image or a thought to write a particular story; but some days I have no such inspiration. But I sit down and focus and write, even if only 300 words. And the more you do it, the easier it becomes to write without any particular "inspiration."

I think what allgirls refers to above is more of quieting your mind. Which is extremely hard to do with small kids. I'm currently "single parenting" as DH is working out of the province and I have small kids, and taking a walk in the woods is simply not an option for me. I think that with practice, one requires less and less of "meditation" before being able to write.

So if you love writing--write! : Then revise and polish. Have fun doing it too. Perfect first drafts come so rarely, it is an unexpected treasure, not a regular occurance.

I absolutely believe you can get it back!

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
midnightwriter is offline  
#8 of 13 Old 04-20-2009, 11:04 AM
 
AndVeeGeeMakes3's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: In the Lovely South, Y'all.
Posts: 1,914
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have totally been in your shoes. Recently. I am studying with a relatively famous writer who addresses this quite regularly, and though I've been with him for three years, it's just been in the last couple of months that I think I really am starting to understand where he's coming from. And you know what? I'm writing again. With such delight that I can hardly stand it!!!!!!

So, what's Mr. Smartypants say? He says that first and foremost, writing is hard. Yep. Even for us who think that it comes "naturally." It's like playing the piano or throwing a baseball. Even if we have a natural gift or proclivity for it, practice is the only thing that keeps us honed. And not every note, or pitch, or paragraph is going to be the one that we want to repeat in front of a gazillion people. He says that he, in fact, writes at least 20 drafts of any short story or novel that he writes before ever sending it to his agent. And this guy's been at it (and won a Pen Faulkner, been a Pulitzer finalist . . . .) for over thirty years.

His other mantra is that we must read. Constantly, deeply, and variously. He suggests at least four books at a time (I think he says he reads 12) - so that we don't start imitating too much. I really think this is something that has helped me. In the past few months I've begun to look at reading as my job. And that's hard when you have a toddler toddling around and a dh who can't sit still to save his life. But it is part of my job.

okay, there's more, but then there's also the toddler . . . . I'll come back.

Wendy ~ mom to VeeGee (6/05), who has PRS, Apraxia, SPD, VPI, a G-Tube, 14q duplication, and is a delightful little pistol! I'm an English professor and a writer.
AndVeeGeeMakes3 is offline  
#9 of 13 Old 04-20-2009, 01:10 PM
 
ceilydhmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,411
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by AndVeeGeeMakes3 View Post

So, what's Mr. Smartypants say? He says that first and foremost, writing is hard. Yep. Even for us who think that it comes "naturally." It's like playing the piano or throwing a baseball. Even if we have a natural gift or proclivity for it, practice is the only thing that keeps us honed. And not every note, or pitch, or paragraph is going to be the one that we want to repeat in front of a gazillion people. .
This is so true - what a great post! It is really hard. There are days when every word I type almost hurts because I don't want to do it (the days when cleaning the fridge holds more appeal that typing one more flipping word.) Then there are the days when everything flows and I like what I write ('cept those are usually the pieces sent back for major edits - oy...)

It is never easy though - rewarding, exciting and meaningful, but not easy.
ceilydhmama is offline  
#10 of 13 Old 04-24-2009, 04:51 PM
 
mjg013's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 266
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I think maybe you should reevaluate why you are writing. I've struggled with the same problem. I wrote a lot throughout school and into college. I was also extremely depressed and writing was my outlet. My therapy as it were. Since I met my dh 10 years ago and came out of my depression I haven't really had much to write about. When I did try to write I just didn't have the same depth of expression I once had. You have to want to write, to love to write, even need to write. Then just write. It may be bad at first but keep your expectations flexible. The ability is there, it's just maybe smothered by life at the moment. It will surface but not without some hard work digging to get to it.
mjg013 is offline  
#11 of 13 Old 04-25-2009, 04:53 AM
 
aikigypsy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 804
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Lots of good points, here. I especially agree with what midnightwriter said.

I was a talented writer once, too. When you're a teenager and in early adulthood, people talk about talent as if it's important. I used to write brilliant poems in a single draft. At least, I thought they were brilliant, and other people often agreed.

The world of a grown-up writer is different. Talent means much less than perseverance and the skills you develop slowly, with practice. Your expectations rise, and the work that was brilliant for a teenager is only pretty good by your new standards. It's all about re-writing. If you expect great first drafts you're setting yourself up for disappointment. As a teenager, I never would have believed the amount of re-writing I do now.

If you haven't read it already, I'd strongly recommend Bird bu Bird, by Anne Lamott.
aikigypsy is offline  
#12 of 13 Old 04-25-2009, 11:25 AM
 
allgirls's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 9,486
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
When I talk about inspiration I mean letting go and letting the words flow through you, not to you. I can't explain it beyond that. But this may not be what she's referring to as the problem. I was trying to figure that out.

I can write technically, put together sentences etc. and form a paragraph and organize my thoughts in order to tell a story or explain something. This doesn't require inspiration for me. If this is the problem, that she no longer can do this well, then that means she needs to practice and work on it.

If this isn't the problem, she just can't make it "good" and I think this is more about creative writing, then inspiration might be the problem...the letting go and letting it come part.

For me, I spend about 90% of my time in the technical part and the inspiration part comes when I get into a certain flow and things just seem to magically appear on the page and it's good. I can see it's good. I can go back on my work and pick out the bits where I know I was inspired. So yeah, only about 10% of my stuff is good..lol.

I'm still not sure what the problem is but I do agree with reading reading reading! And working working working. I have books open in every room. It really helps.

Practice, remove yourself from the outcome, don't worry about that part, just write, you'll get it back.
allgirls is offline  
#13 of 13 Old 04-25-2009, 11:30 AM
 
allgirls's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 9,486
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by AndVeeGeeMakes3 View Post
I have totally been in your shoes. Recently. I am studying with a relatively famous writer who addresses this quite regularly, and though I've been with him for three years, it's just been in the last couple of months that I think I really am starting to understand where he's coming from. And you know what? I'm writing again. With such delight that I can hardly stand it!!!!!!

So, what's Mr. Smartypants say? He says that first and foremost, writing is hard. Yep. Even for us who think that it comes "naturally." It's like playing the piano or throwing a baseball. Even if we have a natural gift or proclivity for it, practice is the only thing that keeps us honed. And not every note, or pitch, or paragraph is going to be the one that we want to repeat in front of a gazillion people. He says that he, in fact, writes at least 20 drafts of any short story or novel that he writes before ever sending it to his agent. And this guy's been at it (and won a Pen Faulkner, been a Pulitzer finalist . . . .) for over thirty years.

His other mantra is that we must read. Constantly, deeply, and variously. He suggests at least four books at a time (I think he says he reads 12) - so that we don't start imitating too much. I really think this is something that has helped me. In the past few months I've begun to look at reading as my job. And that's hard when you have a toddler toddling around and a dh who can't sit still to save his life. But it is part of my job.

okay, there's more, but then there's also the toddler . . . . I'll come back.
Yes...mr Spartypants is right!
allgirls is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off