Tag Archives: writing

Writing With a Ten-Year-Old

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Summer’s here, schools out, and with that I am back to watching my boyfriend’s nephew during the day. He’s ten, turning eleven in July. He can be what you would call a reluctant reader. Video gaming is his preferred activity, and he always puts up a fight when I make him read a little bit everyday.

Last year I actually managed to conjoule him write a “book” with me. It takes a little bit of time, but once we start writing or we start talking ideas he does enjoy it. I promise I’m not torturing him. Anyway, it was five pages typed about this duo who has a lot of powers and like to solve crimes. The plot is all over the place, there’s virtually no description, and he’s convinced he writes better than J.K. Rowling.

Yesterday we started on book two. We managed to plan a plot line from the first book to continue on with, have a nice little mystery we will solve, and planned out two more books in the process. In terms of actual writing, we only got around two hundred words, or one page, down before he was tired and wanted to play Call of Duty. I call it a success. It took a bit more than an hour or so, and most of that was deciding on a font and switching the color to the perfect shade of blue.

I’ve written before about my troubles with self doubt when writing. I tried to do Camp NaNoWriMo this year, and failed epically. I didn’t even do the final update. Since then I haven’t written on that project at all. I’ve thought about it a lot, but that doesn’t equal words on the page which in turn doesn’t give me progress. I only write with Isis on the project we do together. I still haven’t finished those backstories I talked about. I’m basically where I was when I wrote that first post almost a year ago.

Writing with this ten-year-old, I couldn’t help but think that I could really learn from him. He doesn’t ever think about writing anything that other people would enjoy. He wrote it, so obviously it’s amazing, and other people will love it too. Whenever I try to describe the setting or the weather or a character’s description or action during dialogue he always asks, “Nicole, why are you writing that?”

He’s very simple and to the point. If the characters are searching a house for information, they go into the drawer and find it. They don’t search the whole house first. They simply know where to go, and they go do it. There’s no character development here. They need to go to the police as the ending? You write, “They went to the police and told them all they needed to know. Then they went home. The End.” I’m sure he would make that even simpler. There’s no editing. You never second your first thought, and the scene will simply change as you get tired of it or get a new idea.

And you know what? It’s the best time I’ve spent writing in a long while. When I’m writing, I usually have a ball of anxiety nearly suffocating me. I have so many worries and concerns. I agonize over every sentence. It takes me hours to write a three sentence paragraph. On a good day I might be able to write five hundred words. And I never leave my document satisfied. I’m never proud of what I write.

When writing with him, there’s never doubt. After every sentence there’s a compliment of how good it is. Every new idea is met with a high five or a hug. There’s a lot of jokes and laughter, and at the end there’s no doubt that what we wrote is the best thing ever.

It’s very freeing, and something I really want to take into writing my own novels. At least in the first draft. Seeing as I never get to a second draft with my own books, this could only help me out. I’m forever seeing authors advise people to first write for yourself, but I always find it hard to take their advice. There’s always a voice in the back of my head saying, “Yes. That’s good advice for real writers,  but you aren’t a real writer.” There’s no doubt in this ten-year-old’s head that he’s a real writer and will be a best seller and he hates the idea of books and writing every other day.

Of course I don’t expect to write this, and have all my problems solved. But I do think I should think of this, and try to channel it more. It can’t hurt at least.

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Wanted to Give Up Writing This Time

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According to Nicole, I give up on writing periodically. It’s a vicious cycle. Something happens that sets me back, and I see no way out of it, so I tell anyone who’ll listen that I, Isis, am no longer a writer. I give up on all of my writing projects for a while, until I finally return to them. Then I realize I was wrong in giving up writing and start off once again with a positive outlook.

So, I wanted to really get to the bottom of this issue. Right now, I’m in the middle of my “Giving Up Writing” period. It’s the toughest one I’ve faced yet, and I want to talk about it.

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Self-sabatoging your writing

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I’ve talked briefly before about having a lot of self doubt when writing, but I wanted to expand on that today. Self doubt is a normal part of the writing process. Every writer has it. Most can get pass it and continue on writing. I’m not like that.

I used to be that way. I was writing pretty consistently. I finished my first book, finished a a first draft that I co-wrote with Isis, and started a second novel by myself. I had my doubts, but I was confident that with every word I was going to get better so I pushed through them. However, that has changed.

It started when writing my second novel. I loved the original idea of it and the characters, but when I had to develop more of the plot my enthusiasm waned. I still started writing it, but it wasn’t fun anymore. It started to feel akin to torture. So I stopped writing that. I got a new idea, so I developed the characters, but, again, I stopped when it came to the plot. Anything I thought of didn’t seem that interesting or original. I didn’t want my enthusiasm to wane with this idea too, so I stopped working on this idea. The same thing happened to my next idea.

It’s not just my problems with plot that have stopped my writing. I have tried to switch to short stories using prompts as a springboard, but I quit halfway through because I didn’t like my writing. I always think it is dull, and that no one will like it. I spend time looking at writing tips hoping those would help, but then I’m constantly thinking of those when writing and think that I am writing the wrong way.

I have been also writing some background stories for the novel I’m co-writing with Isis. The information is needed for us to move on with the actual novel, but I started thinking that it’s not good and I don’t want to mess up. Especially since it’s been so long that I’ve been working on it. I don’t want to hand it over and have the reaction to it be, “Really? You spent so much time on this trash?” So I haven’t worked on it in weeks.

I have tried to set deadlines for myself to force myself to write. But it’s a repeated cycle of aiming too high with not enough time to realistically finish it, and psyching myself out with excuses. One big excuse I use is research. I always think I don’t know enough about anything, and I want to portray people, places, and things accurately. So I have to do research. The problem is I am never satisfied that I have researched enough. I have to get everything exactly right, and that, in turn, stifles my creativity. The end result is always the same. No writing gets done.

I’m not sure how to fix this problem. Even writing this has taken me three days, and I have thought many times of simply scraping it and not having a post up for this week. Does anyone else have advice on this? Or simply have this problem too? Sometimes just relating to another person can help.

 

 

From Fiction to Non-Fiction

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This year, I’m taking my first non-fiction class ever. I’m currently on my senior year of college toward my English degree, and so when I had to pick between non-fiction and poetry to fill my creative writing requirement, I chose non-fiction. I was dreading that class simply because I thought I knew everything there was to know about non-fiction, and I didn’t want anything to do with it. Still, I figured it would be much easier to tackle than poetry. Regardless of my motivation, I’m so glad I discovered the beauty of non-fiction.

Most of my writing life has been dedicated to writing fiction stories. I started with fiction novels and slowly drifted to short stories. Both of these gave me so much satisfaction. I learned to craft my own stories, create my own characters, maintain consistencies, and manage plots. There are by far many fiction writing tools, and it’s been a long and winding road to try to learn them all. I thought the switch to non-fiction creative writing would be a disaster, but it has been an incredible learning experience so far.

The first assumption I had wrong when it came to non-fiction writing is that everything is strong hard facts, centered in the truth and nothing but the truth. I pictured journalism whenever I thought of non-fiction, and that’s just not my cup of tea. However, I’ve come to learn that there’s a thin line (highly debated) between what is essentially true in non-fiction, and what isn’t. I learned that many essayist do happen to alter details or slightly bend the truth when it’s most convenient on their essays/memoirs. And that was liberating.

This is not to say I’ve used this approach a lot. I tend to stick to the truth, as I remember it, of course. In the course of the semester, I’ve written two fiction stories, and about ten non-fiction essays. I’ve measured my improvement in the latter because of all the work I’ve done, and I’ve created pieces that I’m proud of. Although, I wouldn’t be willing to share many of my essays as easily as I share my short stories. That’s something I still have to work on. But through my journey in non-fiction, I’ve learned that I have more to offer when it comes to writing. I have written about so many things, people, experiences that I never would have written about had I not taken this class. Some of these essays have been difficult to write, but they ended up being some of my favorites.

I still adore fiction writing. It’s my first love. I will always want to write fiction because I have too many fictional characters living in my head that need to be written down. But I’m going to focus on essays as well, and maybe someday, a long memoir. The thing about non-fiction is that there aren’t that many rules. Sure, there are different forms and presentations and tools, same as with fiction, but it’s so interesting playing with my own reality, however twisted it has become over the years. Memories change, and I write them as I remember them. And every time I write them down, I can let go of them a little bit. Sometimes, that’s necessary.

The Solutions to Never Having to Drive Again

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The Solutions to Never Having to Drive Again

Solution #1
Pack up your bags and move to Chicago. Yes, you’ll need to find a new, high-paying job to be able to live decently, and you’ll be away from everyone you know, but the public transportation is great, and easily accessible. It’s not such a sacrifice, anyway. Who doesn’t love Chicago style pizza?

Solution #2
Hire your own personal driver. I’m sure if you put a listing on craigslist, you’ll find someone willing. There’s a chance you’ll end up with a serial killer, but there’s risks in everything.

Solution #3
Become a hermit. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t. Give up being an adult–there’s already too many of those. Work from home, or don’t work at all. Do all your shopping online. Find a sucker who will let you live off of them, and you won’t ever need to go outdoors ever again.

Solution #4
Get rid of all commercial vehicles. That seems like a lot of work, but nothing is impossible with enough determination. 

Solution #5
Buy a horse and a carriage. Cars will hate you on the highway, but at least you won’t be in one of them.