Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to work as much on FH as I’d have liked to today. This was owing mostly to my parents’ dragging me out of my room to go to the mall for the greater part of the day and to the fact that I finally began a Chinese essay that I was supposed to have started working on a week ago. (Whoops!)
So that was a bit disappointing, but the good news is I’ve decided on two main writing goals that I’ll be keeping in mind during the editing process: strengthening my descriptions and character development. I’ll be writing more on these goals in tomorrow’s post, so keep an eye out for that! ;)
For today, I thought I’d continue the mini-series I had going on from last week’s Top Ten Tuesday – since last week I talked about readers’ pet peeves, this week I’ll be ranting about writers’. ;) This topic is, of course, quite relevant to me at this point in time, and I’m sure some of you writers out there will also identify with some of these annoyances!
Top Ten: Pet Peeves (Writer Edition)
You know when you’re really getting into your writing… and you’re coming to a scene you’ve been looking forward to for a long time… and you’re typing faster and faster and faster, your fingers flying over the keyboard… and your eyes are wide and you’re breath is coming in gasps… and suddenly you hear a knock on the door, rudely jarring you out of the creative world? Distractions! I personally am distracted by almost anything and therefore need complete silence (or piano music, whichever is readily available) to work. But still, I can’t even count the times I’ve been interrupted in the middle of my writing – and it drives me further and further towards insanity every single time.
2. The Search for the Right Word
I don’t know if this is just me, or if everybody experiences it, but there are certain instances when I have a sentence and there is the perfect word to fit into it… but I just can’t think of it. The word is sitting in the back corners of my mind, dusty and forgotten and covered in cobwebs, but I can’t seem to call it up. The worst is when I know for sure that that one word would make the entire sentence a million times better, but in the end, after I’ve been sitting there for 10 minutes with my eyes squeezed shut trying out different letter combinations, I finally give in and use a word that isn’t nearly as brilliant as the one I just couldn’t remember.
3. Writer’s Block
This, I don’t even have to go into much detail about. I know some writers say that ‘writer’s block doesn’t exist’, but I can safely dispel that theory. Say what you wish, but the syndrome of staring at a blank sheet of paper and finding absolutely nothing can be one of the most terrifying experiences in a writer’s career. No one knows when writer’s block blows over, or how to cure it – simply taking two pills after breakfast and sleeping it off does not work in this case. A friend of mine whom had just begun to get into writing and had shown quite a knack for it once came up to me and informed me a quavering voice that she was afraid that she had lost her skill. When I enquired what the cause was, she listed the symptoms and we were able to determine it was a simple case of writer’s block. It strikes beginning and advance writers across the globe, and it is ridiculously infuriating.
Okay, so I’ll admit it – I’m a terrible procrastinator. Deadlines tend to sneak up on me. It’s as if one moment the deadline is months away, and BAM! – whoa whoa whoa, was I supposed to finish that chapter tomorrow?! I’ve really tried to cut down on the procrastination when it came to FH and I’m proud to say that I have been partially successful, but I’m still struggling with the debilitating effects of deadlines. Of course, as I’m self-publishing FH, all my deadlines are self-set – but that only makes it more devastating as I watch them creep closer and closer until they finally spring up and attack me. I think Douglas Adams can convey my feelings about these beauties much better than I can: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing noise they make as they fly by.”
5. Lined Notebooks
I believe I have summed up my never-ending struggle with lined notebooks in the epic journey known as A Father’s Mission (or, The Quest for the Unlined Notebook).
6. Dishonest Critiquers
Although I may have numerous faults as a writer, I’m very happy to say that I cannot include myself in the group known as the Dishonest Critiquers. These are the types of people that look over every single piece of writing they will ever see and say one of two things; either: “Oh my GOD! That is just completely perfect! I swear it’s the BEST book I have EVER seen in my entire LIFE! Like, I so totally need your autograph. OMG!” or: “You call this piece of junk ‘writing’? Dude, I think you need to re-evaluate your career options, ’cause plumbing would be better suited for you than trying to shape this mess into something vaguely resembling a book.” Both types of critiquers can have an equally devastating effect on a writers’ life – the first, in delusioning them into thinking they can do no wrong and the second, in delusioning them into thinking they can do no right.
This is more of something I do than something others do – I find that in my writing I tend to repeat certain words, phrases, and sometimes even sentence structures, over and over again. In FH, the word I used in almost every other paragraph was some variant of power: power, powerful, powerless, etc. (That does tell you something about the book, now that I think of it… ;)) Just a word of warning to writers: do go back and check to see that you’re not making the same mistake. I fully intend to attack the manuscript with a thesaurus in hand once I can get around to editing, and change all the powers to something a bit less repetitive.
9. Vanishing Ideas
This happens to me in both writing and songwriting – a brilliant idea strikes (often in the middle of the night) and I struggle to hang onto it as I grapple for a pen to scrawl it into my notebook. Alas – by the time pen is poised over paper, the idea has vanished as quickly as it appeared. These tiny gems rarely crop up, but when they do it is futile to try and capture them in the nets of our stories. I maintain my theory that most, if not all, of the world’s bestselling books were created by people who found ways to snare one of these vanishing ideas. One of these days I hope to join them. ;)
9. First Drafts
I believe I covered all of my frustration with first drafts when I went back and read FH from top to bottom for the first time yesterday… click here for the full commentary.
10. Judgmental Strangers
Can I just say: if you’re somebody who knows absolutely nothing about me apart from the fact that I like to write, what right do you have to judge me? Case in point: a couple of days ago I was talking to a friend of a friend. I casually mentioned that I was a writer and guess what response I got? “Ugh, do you know how many people say that? No offense, but maybe you should try out some different hobbies.” (*insert exasperated eye roll here*) Okay, so first off – this person hadn’t even seen any of my writing. Secondly – even if she had and decided that it wasn’t really her thing, who was she should she tell me to stop doing something I love to do? Ignorant, judgmental strangers really get to me, mostly because they know zip, zero, zilch about me and probably wouldn’t care even if they did.