FauxReal's picture
FauxReal from Currently residing outside Reading, PA is reading Wildwood, by Colin Meloy December 16, 2012 - 2:32pm

My name's Loren.  You can call me Lo.  I've been lurking in the shadows for months here, reading columns, posts, and some fiction, but haven't plunged into the arena with a manuscript and a warface just yet.  You're thinking, in oh-so hokey-pokey terms, "that's what it's all about!"  And you're correct.  I'd be happy to fill this box to its bloated limits, rambling on about myself with first-date-like anxiety, but I figure there's plenty of time for chatting after I step up to the plate. 

And so I confess my fatal heroic flaw:  I don't know where to begin.  Every time I think about writing something, I dissect my idea into component parts and proceed to lambast every little sliver until I prevent myself from starting.  Some of you are halfway between cringing and epilepsy right now, your inner monologue chanting "Kali ma... Kali ma shakti de!"  Mm-hmm.  It's okay.  My outlier status is befitting of somebody who loves reading and literature, but doesn't feel that driving compulsion to crank out a wordcount every day like it's a prescription to save my soul. 

Like the post title politely asks, help me out.  Give me a prompt.  A challenge.  A topic.  Anything really.  So drop me a note, comment on the post, or point me towards something ongoing that I might have noticed with a little more involvement.  I'd love to make some friends on here and generate some momentum to get myself in the ring.  Oh, and if you just want to shoot the breeze, I'm totally game for that too.


R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest December 16, 2012 - 3:35pm

My first suggestion would be to get a workshop membership. Get in there, read some stories, do some reviews and get your feet wet. There's tons of inspiration to be gathered from reviewing. There's Thunderdome too, if you wanted to challenge somebody. There are a lot of ways to glean ideas and inspiration around here. Just gotta find em...

fport's picture
fport from Canada is reading The World Until Yesterday - Jared Diamond December 16, 2012 - 4:00pm

Okay Moon has done the party line. Listen to the man. I had just arrived and took some small umbrage with the party line mostly because I have my own agenda and I was only here to further that in my own way, in my own time and at my own pace. Period. Dot, dot, dot.

Well, eventually all this stuff penetrated. And while I don't want to write out my book online here I do need to practice writing and editing and listening and rewriting and so on and so forth. So, to start I dribbled something onto the keyboard that quickly accelerated and gushed forth complete. It was shite. I was told that. The basic thing, formatting was abominable. Then the flow was incoherent. Funny, I could follow it.

I'm not a word count guy either. But then I don't write. I don't have a set time to write. It comes from my leftover daily minutes or when I don't have other stuff to do. Did I mention I don't write. That's why I am here to develop those skills. People are happy to preach. You can ignore them. In the end, to be a writer, you do have to write. Inescapable, really.

Forget the threat to your ego, that's what it is about, you're a scaredy cat, write something and pay fair trade by reading and reviewing while you wait for someone to finally notice you and help you join in. Here's your protective mantra, for if you are to die, then you should ask for appropriate help: "Aum Namah Shivaya". The louder you do it the less you will be afraid.

Tell me why you used "Kali ma... Kali ma shakti de!" as your literary sounding introduction. What is it that made you know that phrase. Why did you think it was appropriate over any one of a thousand other openings about what everyone may or may not think about your entry here.

The title, Why I'm on a writing help site.

PS. I know what I think, I think.


drea's picture
drea from Rural Alberta, Canada is reading between the lines December 16, 2012 - 4:06pm

Do what you want with that ^ 

R.Moon gave some great advice. An inspiration to a lot of writers may be found here http://therumpus.net/2010/08/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-48-write-like-a-motherfucker/

It was incredibly helpful with my own fears at the beginning of my commitment to writing. 

And WELCOME! You've taken the first step. 

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks December 16, 2012 - 4:20pm

Welcome! Drea's right, this is the first step. We're here to help your eventual downspiral into being attached to your keyboard, unable to move until you have this sentence exactly right.

Thunderdome is a great option; it's what really kicks my ass into gear when I'm motivated but not inspired. All of my best stories have come from there. It's not too difficult to get an opponent during WAR. That's what I did for the first five or six stories I wrote here.

Other than that, try finding a news story you're really intrigued by and writing a story about it. There are dozens of ways each story could go. A song, a line, anything, just run with it.

Ben Freeman's picture
Ben Freeman from Charlottesville, Virginia is reading everything I can December 16, 2012 - 9:28pm

Welcome! Mind the gap when coming aboard! The best advice anyone can give you is to just write. It's simple but true. I have a big sticky on my desktop that says "Writers Write." That's what it comes down to. It doesn't matter if it's good, if you like it, if anyone else reads it, but you have to write it. Next time you have an idea, don't just kick it around in your head, start writing it. The only way to get better is to actually write. There's no magic formula, no discussion, no advice that can be given. It's the only way to do it, writers have to write.


That article drea listed is really good and makes some great points too. Thanks for posting that drea, I hadn't read it before. Write like a motherfucker.

drea's picture
drea from Rural Alberta, Canada is reading between the lines December 16, 2012 - 9:45pm

Write like a motherfucker.

Yeah, I have the mug. That article set me on fire. Especially the part about thinking we are better than we are and the need to get down on the ground.

My latent perfectionism was actually debilitating. I didn't want to crank out the ubiquitous pages of shit. Now, I'm like, hey, pages of shit! Thanks for coming out. 

H.I.Marcuson's picture
H.I.Marcuson from Toulouse is reading a book on spelling December 17, 2012 - 8:13am

I dont know if this is a helpful analogy but... The French are the poorest speakers of the english language in Europe because they refuse to speak it unless they know they can do it well... and so... none of them get the practice they need to improve.

Dont be French.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. December 17, 2012 - 8:39am

R. Moon has it right.  Where to begin: Do some critiques.  When I can't write, I just critique until I'm brain dead.  Then I go for a motorcycle ride or a walk.  Then I write.  

Exercise is a great inspiration, because I think, "If I get some writing done, I don't have to walk up this goddamn hill tomorrow.  I'll take the day off."

Exercise or write.  Your choice.  At the worst, you'll get in great shape.  At best, you'll write.  

Also, brain chemistry goes happy-go-nuts when you exercise.  So, get out and move.  Then sit down and write.

Reading (and taking notes) on all the professional essays here will also help.  As will reading the Welcome to the Lit Reactor thread that Courtney put together.

If none of that works, you are fucked.  Next move is to try to conjure a muse, trap it in a magical circle, and write The Sandman (I'm prettty sure part of it was true-life about how Neil came up with the story).

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce December 17, 2012 - 10:17am

Welcome, Lo! I think lurking is a smart thing to do before joining forums. Clever man. 

The workshop membership and essays are well worth the money, as everyone's explained above. 

@howie - exercise or write. I need to start doing this again. 

FauxReal's picture
FauxReal from Currently residing outside Reading, PA is reading Wildwood, by Colin Meloy December 17, 2012 - 11:55am

Wow, not even a full day and I'm getting this much attention!  Don't let me get used to it.  Thanks all for putting a dime in the machine.  So in particular, I've got to say that H.I.'s "frank" advice made me smile.  And fport actually hit the nail on the head.  I never thought of it that way, but you're right.  I'm a cowardly tight-ass who didn't want to embarrass himself.  Just wrote 1000 words about that to cement it in my mind. 

Of course if I want to write, then I have to write.  I guess my deal is that creative fiction (regardless of whether or not I'd actually call it creative) seems so broad and limitless that instead of choosing a direction and moving right along, I stare at all the possible paths and remain immobile.  I suppose I don't feel right critiquing others until I've anted up, despite my confidence in analysis.  So it's a matter of doing it.  Cranking it out, regardless of plot, inspiration, or motivation.  Gotta jog before you can run, right? 

drea's picture
drea from Rural Alberta, Canada is reading between the lines December 17, 2012 - 11:35am

Too many words for a regular thread. We've got the attention span !!!SQUIRRELL!!!!! 


Seriously, take this over to the workshop if you want genuine line by line feedback, and do the same for some writers whose work is waiting to be commented on over there. Not being a cunt, just being helpful. A helpful cunt, if you must. I certainly don't speak for everyone else here, but I do know that reciprocity goes a long way and not taking more than you give is just good table manners : )  

FauxReal's picture
FauxReal from Currently residing outside Reading, PA is reading Wildwood, by Colin Meloy December 17, 2012 - 11:58am

Ha!  I didn't notice that "file attachments" button at the bottom there.  Oops.  See, told you I was a noob.  I don't expect feedback; it's more of a soliloquy than an actual story.  I just didn't want to say "prompt me!" and then not follow through.  Once these blasted holidays are over, I'll be chipping in on some workshop action.  And helpful is always nice.

drea's picture
drea from Rural Alberta, Canada is reading between the lines December 17, 2012 - 12:19pm

I speak for everyone when I say thanks for editing that down, FauxReal. 

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like December 17, 2012 - 12:25pm

I disagree. I think you've paid your dues. Expect a mysterious bump to your checking account soon.

Dave's picture
Dave from a city near you is reading constantly December 17, 2012 - 3:26pm

I think you've paid your dues.


So he's considered a writer now? Right?  I'm confused, I think. 

fport's picture
fport from Canada is reading The World Until Yesterday - Jared Diamond December 17, 2012 - 6:04pm

Sometimes these things happen so fast. First a kick in the ass and next a dilettante has trouble staying away from working really hard all the time trying to trap the muse on the page before it escapes.