Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Same, Yet Different

As writers I've noticed that there seem to be several experiences and personality traits we tend to share. For example, I've heard many a fellow writer speak of the voices in their head, or the characters that like to visit them at the most inopportune times. When I hear comments such as these, I don't think, wow, she's crazy! I think me too!!

I've also heard many of you speak of the highs of new ideas and finished books and the lows of self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. Hearing your personal ups and downs often makes me feel that I'm not alone in this struggle to harness the muse.

We spend so much time talking about what makes us the same that today I want to talk about what makes us different, or maybe a I should say that I'm simply curious to know about you as an individual writer. I'll start...

I am a slow writer compared to the writers around me. I labor over each word, and I have a hard time moving on if I don't feel the last bit is perfect. I have deleted probably20-30 thousand words from my first novel and I'm still working on the ending (for the third time). I also have two versions of it: first person and third person.

My second book, which I'm only half way through seems to be coming much easier to me than my first, and I'm hoping to be able to overcome some of my perfectionist tendencies which can be so inhibiting. I enjoy writing abstract poetry and love writing personal letters to people I love. I also have a confession, sometimes I don't want to write at all. I don't want the pressure of feeling like if I don't finish my work I will be letting people down. Phew... glad I got that off my chest. :)

So what are you like as an individual writer? Maybe you're the same as me and we're similar in our differences.... hmmm.... feel free to get philosophical on the subject.


  1. I am a slow writer as well. I have three beginnings the novel I'm trying to write. I have a hard time learning my own voice as a writer. I have the majority of the story and subplots already planned but have the hardest time getting it written out so that it is satisfying. .... I guess none of this is any different than most writers. (or maybe it is I don't know). But I'm just beginning to get my footing in the writing world, so a lot of my time is spent learning, and learning by doing.

  2. I've learned recently that I enjoy learning about writing and working on improving almost as much as I like writing itself. This has changed my whole perspective and really mellowed me out. I'm much slower than I used to be, but it is more because I like seeing how much better I can make it. :) Great post Candi!

  3. I'm one of those writers that just goes for it. My first draft is filled with whatever happens to come to my head while I'm tickling the computer keys. I wrote my first draft of Taming the Heart in less than a month, BUT, it has taken me over a year to do the edits and rewrites. So I'm not sure my way is the right way.

    I do know that the voices in my head just won't stop, so I have to get them out. Even while I'm editing the first book in the series, my muse is in the second or third and just won't leave me alone. I often have to stop and jot down notes, just to get her to rest so I can get some real work done.

    Voices? Hmmmm....there's a word for that, but I think I won't go there now...LOL

  4. My stories are in the form of creating or re-crreating arts and crafts. The more I do the more ideas come. It seems that my brain is like a car. Drive it often and it runs pretty good. Leave it sitting in the driveway for months on end and the battery slowly dies, the wires get eaten away by rats and the engine has a real tough time remembering how to start. So I have learned to keep my creative juices flowing I have to take it out for a drive at least once a week, if not more!

  5. Amber, I definitely think that learning by doing is the bet teacher when it comes to writing. I also find I learn a lot by interacting with other writers who are actively writing.

    Jenn, I've always thought you should be a columnist or professional blogger. You really have a knack for it! Your articles on writing are concise, insightful and entertaining.

    I happen to be very close to a writer who is a lot like you. :) I wish I were more like that. I really do. Sometimes I just want to get the stories out of my head and on to the paper. It's getting a little crowded in my brain right now.

    You are obviously writing a very different sort of book than a lot of us, but I think your analogy still holds true. If I don't write a little every day, I start to lose my inspiration. I really do love your analogy. I'm going to think about in the future when I'm tempted to leave my writing alone for too long.

  6. Candi - Wow! Thanks! :D I enjoy writing those kind of articles. I think I have too much fun with fiction to do only that though. :)

  7. My first draft of my WIP was written in 6 six weeks using my creative side and flying by the seat of my pants, writing anything that came to my mind. I was liberating, exhilerating, and...complete crap! But my logical side got ahold of it for at least three months, it was probably longer, and the result was a pretty ok story, but still not quite right. So my next attempt will be to let the creative side loose on my logical version and to see what ensues. I'm pretty hopeful that my two sides can work together, both being more trained than they were a year ago, and put together the story I want to tell.

  8. I just try to get it all out there and then go back and do the edits. My question is... how do you all decide what to change about your first draft? Do you have someone else read through it and make suggestions? If so, who? What other suggestions do you have for the editing/rewriting process?

  9. Kristy,

    With mine, it just develops as I go. My first draft of "Taming the Heart" was 64,000 words. When I was finished with the first edit/rewrite it was 95,000. I like to think of the first draft as the skeleton of the story. Then I go back and add the guts and the skin and finally polish it up and Accessorize. It now sits at 104,000 words.

    Everyone has their own style and way of writing. You just have to find what works for you. Lots and Lots of practice.

  10. Jenn, I only speak the truth as I see it. You know that's true. :)

    Nikki, I really, really wish I could do that. Maybe for nano this year I will try really hard not to over edit myself and just write!

    Kristy, I'm part of a writer's group which has been very beneficial for me in looking objectively at my work. I also have a great husband who is brutally honest with me. Friends are great as well, but you have to be explicit about the type of feedback you want. During the first draft I think it's good to be surrounded by cheerleaders. When your editing, I think you need forthright feedback. I tend to look at all the feedback I get and then really try to think about what is genuinely right for my book. It's a fine line between keeping too much because you as the writer are biased changing too much because you feel like everybody knows better than you do. I've done both. :) In the end it's an art. But you should really get feedback from the other contributors. They are much more experienced in this are since they've successfully completed and edited more books.

    Christine, I agree, lots and lots of practice. I almost think my first novel was entirely for practice!

  11. Thanks for the feedback everyone!

    Candice, what writer's group is it, if you don't mind me asking?



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