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bear by san

December 2021



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bear by san

Writing is Hard, Part Seven Thousand (The Million Words Of Shit.)

I realized last night that fiction writing is too hard to do consciously.

No, seriously. Bear with me a second. (har har). And for "you" below, read "ebear." I tend to talk to myself in the second person when I'm telling myself something I don't wanna hear. *g*

I'm not talking about getting in "the zone," although that's a part of it--because (see previous post) sometimes you have to force through even when the subconscious is balking. But it's more that as you improve, each aspect of writing has to be learned on a conscious level. And then--internalized to the point where you don't really notice you're doing it.

I'm struggling with this plateau right now, and I realized what plateaus are. They're that period when you've (maybe subconsciously) identified something you're not doing right yet, and you're struggling to learn it, rationalize it, and internalize it. So everything becomes incredibly hard, because you're passing from this stage of conscious incompetence to conscious competence, and from there you can subsume it and make it part of the things you do by reflex.

My last big one of these was in January of this year. It was my sentence-level writing epiphany, the point at which my writing really clicked and went from "pretty good" to "muscular." In my humble. Or not so humble. Anyway. I had consciously known many of the things that suddenly went *bang* on me in January. But I had to do them on second or third draft before then, when I had time to think about it, or if I tried to do them on first draft, other things would suffer, because they required all my concentration.

And writing fiction is one of those things where you have to be able to do so many things automatically and without considering them, so you can focus on the very conscious choices that make the story what it is.

It's possible that some people can handle all of these things automatically. (I seem to have come with the ability to characterize as part of my core programming: everything else I've had to learn.) People who don't start off with that stuff intact have to sweat over each piece (plateau) until they grok it. And then they--as if by magic--start writing better.

It's like driving a stick shift, only far more complicated. If you actually *think* about clutching and shifting and braking and steering and watching the road and watching the mirrors and blinker-mirror-blindspot...'re gonna drive under a semi, because you're going to think about clutching before you brake.

And writing is even more complicated than that. So likewise if you're thinking, constantly, "Gotta ground. Gotta characterize. Gotta add setting. Gotta get kinetic. Gotta internalize." It's not going to flow because you're going to do each of those things as a separate action.

Which is okay. Really, it's okay. It's a learning step, like figuring out just *where* to take your foot off the clutch when you give it the gas.

But long erm, it's gotta become reflex. And the only solution is reading, awareness, and practice writing--writing--writing, I think. That infamous advice--"How do I become a professional writer?" "Write for ten years. If that doesn't work, write for ten more." Or Stephen King's variation--"You have to write a million words of shit."--is unfortunately extremely accurate.

Writing is still hard. Film at 11.


Too True

Yup. Yup. Yup.

I feel trapped by the 'gotta' right now, and not only does the writing not flow but it takes forever. At this point I feel I'd very much like to know less, write faster, and fix it later. It isn't as if I'm not having to fix it later anyhow.

And please note the number of 'not's in the above. I think I may just be writing negatively. I've managed to slip into reverse again while I was looking for third gear.
I see you added me.

Did you see me on nihilistic_kid's friend's list? I don't see anyone else on your list that I would know.
I think I followed a comment link somewhere. Hope you don't mind--I liked your journal and I'm too lazy to remember to go look at journals unless I friend them.


No, I don't mind, I was just wondering where you found me.

Hardly anybody ever comments in my journal.

I'm shooting for an August launch for my site,maybe after that more people will read it.Samples of my comic strip will be on it.


Good luck with that. I'm making my great leap into the publishing abyss right now--it's scary, but not so bad.
LoL! Oh, somebody write down the date!


No, I think it never stops. Although I note that for me, at least, the process is getting a little gentler. Or maybe the skill jumps are getting slightly smaller.

I think that's why it's so important to keep taking on projects that scare the pants off ya. Because those are the ones that force growth in me, at least.


Rhonda agrees

I've come to realise that too. Lex is probably the book I made the most leaps over plateaus with. For me though, if I tend not to spend a lot of time in plateau. About a few hundred to a few thousand words. I use short stories to get over the skill humps, actually. You see, I always have to be pushing on, learning, or I get hopelessly like Kat, trying to push past the overwhelming amount of 'things I have to get right'. So I compensate by understanding as quickly as possible, assimilating it like the Borg and never thinking about it again lol.

I think that's why my sentence level writing went so drastically the other way over this year. I've had so much reading and writing to show me the right way, and of course I was working, so I assimilated and 'bang!' that was that. For me, I tend to read what I want to do (ie admiring your grounding technique helped me find mine) rather than force myself to think it through.

I think that's why your way of improving always seemed so step orientated to me that I didn't quite relate even if I agreed with the conclusions. You seem to work on things with a concious effort until you get past them, keeping a careful record for others and yourself along the way. I generally work on 'why doesn't this work' principle and when it 'smooths out' I know it's because I did something right. At that point I can figure out what I did right, but until then, it's usually just a vague, something's not right feeling and I tend to write until it flows better and the lightbulb goes off.

I don't think it's a very organized approach, but I think it works for me. And I never expect it to change. There's always something to learn and someone to do it better so that you can learn from them. If I ever get the point where I feel there's no more to learn - I'll know I'll probably have that much more to get right ::grin::