Yes, I have issues

Our first assignment in Merrilee Faber’s Creativity Workshop will be to list our goals. It occurs to me that I’ve never truly had writing goals before. I just write and write and write until the project is done. I may set deadlines, but I rarely meet them. I’m too much an undisciplined writer.

It appears I should have posted my “issues and interests” to address in this workshop two days ago, so I’m already falling behind. From reading the other participant’s issues and interests, I realize I don’t share most of their concerns because:  I write both male and female characters; I write both happy and unhappy endings; (I think) I write solid relationships; I’ve used mostly local settings; and I certainly don’t need to write something other than fantasy. 🙂 (I’m feeling a little out of my element in this workshop because it seems most of the other participants are fantasy writers. Should be interesting.)

Anyway, here are some issues I want to work on, in general and specifically:

  • Discipline. I’m not sure how discipline and creativity can co-exist, but surely they must for writing to succeed as a career. Setting goals might be the first step toward discipline, but preventing myself from getting sidetracked has to be the biggest step.
  • Procrastination. In my defense, the delay in posting my writing issues was not a result of procrastination, but a lack of time to read Merrilee’s blog. However, I consistently put off what I should write (or critique) today … no matter how many times I curse myself when it comes time to scramble to get a job done. So, I’m hoping to overcome this tendency.
  • Finishing small projects. I have a terrible habit of writing a story and then either not editing it, or starting to edit, but not finishing.  Sometimes, I even take the next step of seeking feedback, but then I do nothing with the feedback. This is why I never have anything ready to submit for publication. (I do not have this problem with novels.)
  • Telling too much too soon. I occasionally do have a problem underestimating the intelligence of my reader, but I don’t think this is the cause of my tendency to give too many clues too soon in my horror or psychological suspense writing. (I don’t often have this problem in my literary writing.)
  • Fleshing out dialogue. I write dialogue first, which means that sometimes I leave long strings of “he said, she said” adding only a couple tags and a gesture. I need to work on fully integrating the dialogue into the narrative.

So there, I’ve confessed my issues. but I reserve the right to add to this list as the workshop progresses. Sometimes I don’t realize I have a problem until it’s pointed out to me. Intervention by workshop could  be a good thing.

34 thoughts on “Yes, I have issues

  1. I hear ya! My goals are very similar to your first couple – find a way to make writing a higher priority, without turning into a chore. I’m always amazed to hear myself express my desire to write; and yet not make the time to indulge that desire! Crazy, huh? 😉

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  2. I can feel you on the first two goals. I want to work on those during the workshop as well. As I said in my blog, I am spectacular at procrastination and it’s something I do constantly with pretty much everything. I also liked your “failure to finish small projects” goal… I never realized it before, but this is also something I suffer from. I have quite a few short stories that have either never been edited or that are only partially edited. Huh. I never even thought about that before.

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    1. Chibi, I have a friend who’s started seriously submitting shorts for publication and I realized I could do that too, if I’d just make myself finish the darned things. It’s partly a lack of focus; I get a new story idea and rush off to start on that. It’s also partly a confidence issue; I doubt the story is any good so I feel I’m wasting my time polishing it. Of course, if I don’t polish it, how will I ever know if it was any good? 😕

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      1. I had that confidence issue too. And I can honestly say, the only way to overcome it is, firstly, put your work through a good critique group, and secondly, submit it. The confidence issues do, eventually, go away, to be replaced by excitement everytime you hit the “send” button.

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      2. I know, right? For me, it’s an issue of not being quite sure where to submit, or how to find places. I know that there are places such as Duotrope, but it also takes a lot of effort that I’m not sure I really have right now. I have a lot going on (too much according to some comments on my blog) and I don’t think I could handle ALSO submitting short stories when I’m doing challenges and writing and a class and all that. Though I do think it’s good to submit stories and get those publishing credits, I don’t think that’s for me right now (though I am massively jealous of JC Hart for all those submissions!).

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        1. Chibi, I signed up for Duotrope’s Weekly Wire thinking it would inspire me to polish some stories, but it only accuses me of laziness. 🙂 You do seem to have your hands full right now. I don’t even want to know how many J.C. is submitting. 😉

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          1. Don’t try to think of it lol cause if you think the DWW makes you feel lazy… But I know that really would be pushing the limit of what I can handle. I can write the stories at the moment, but I think the editing will have to wait until a lot later in the summer.

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          2. Oh you’ve got that. You may not even end up with 12 completed stories, but there should be the bulk of them done to first draft 🙂

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  3. Ah, we all have issues. 😉 Great selection of goals to work on. I thought the dialogue one was particularly interesting… because my brain couldn’t do that at all! Are you an auditory learner and hear the dialogue in your head first? I wonder. That makes me think your dialogue must be a real pleasure to read, though. Typically I see a scene unfolding in the mind’s eye first and then supply the dialogue as it’s needed.

    Nice to meet you just as class is ready to begin. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Meredith. Nice to meet you too. 🙂

      Actually, I’m not an auditory learner at all because my mind tends to wander. But for some reason, when I’m writing, I do hear the dialogue first. I certainly hope my dialogue is a “pleasure to read.” I do get good comments on that in critique. I have to close my eyes to see the scene, but dialogue comes to me anytime, anywhere. When I first started my latest novel, if I got stuck, I would start playing Bejeweled and within minutes my characters would start talking again. I had to explain to my husband that I wasn’t sidetracked from writing … I was writing!

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  4. Overall, that’s a pretty short list. The task of writing down goals and issues is cringe worthy to me. There are not enough goals and too many issues.

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    1. Dayner, I’ll bet that if you look closely, you’ll find that a lot of your “issues” are connected. I’m trying to find the common denominator and work on that because I figure, if I fix the bigger problem, the lesser ones will fix themselves.

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  5. I think Tricia unknowingly summed up my core issue best! Unfocused. I put too many projects on the board. Then out of feelings of guilt I bounce from one to the other trying to make headway on each one. Even now I’m trying to focus on the novel, but spring cleaning, spring gardening, a short story, a poem book, and spring fever in general are all begging for my time.

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    1. My problem exactly, Trista. I’ve been hyper-focused on my novel for almost two years and let so many other things slide, but I know I have to find a balance, so I can do justice to all. Ha, that sounds like I’ll be Superwoman! Well … actually, if I can do it all well, I guess I will be. 😀

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  6. You’ve highlighted some interesting issues here. I especially identify with the ‘Telling too much too soon’ item. My critique group are often pointing this out to me. I too have a problem with discipline, procrastination and finishing small projects.

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  7. I’m completely intrigued by the fact that you write dialogue first. I always find it fascinating how other people write – I tend to write everything from beginning to end in full sentences and only miss things out – and I’m talking a couple of words – where I need to research something or check some facts. It means my drafts are fairly complete, but generally need a LOT of work come revisions! Do you hear the conversation in your head and write it down as it plays out? I’ve come across plenty other people who do that, but my characters usually only talk on the page, so I’m fascinated by the concept. 🙂

    Discipline’s one of my problems too, although I hadn’t considered it before – I’m quite good at sitting down to write, but terrible at actually writing once I get there. I get distracted by the internet/games on my phone/books all too easily. Think I need to stop having them near me when I’m supposed to be writing!

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    1. Yes, I do hear the conversations in my head. Some days it’s like taking dictation, on other days I ask a question about a character or event and wait for the character(s) to start talking or thinking about it. I guess that sounds pretty “woo-woo” but other writers should relate. When I say I write the dialogue first, I’m talking scene at a time, not the whole book or story. I don’t necessarily write the scenes in order. If the dialogue for a future scene comes to me, I write it down and then insert it when I write up to it and then flesh it out. I edit as I write, so my “first” drafts are more like other writer’s second, or even third, drafts.

      Discipline … yeah … I keep hearing the advice not to write on a computer that’s hooked to the internet and I’ve resisted, but in my heart, I think that will have to be the solution for me.

      Nice to meet you, Davina.

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      1. Not “woo-woo” at all! I’ve always envied writers who hear and see the characters so clearly – mine only come to life as I write them, and I only know what they’re going to say as the words appear on the page. I wish I could try out your process for a day!

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  8. This sounds like an interesting workshop! I was afraid to sign up for it because I thought I’d get too waylaid from my ongoing and unfinished projects.

    But I will be eager to follow your progress (everyone’s progress) and cheer you on from the sidelines.

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    1. Yeah, like I won’t?! 😀 I hope to learn how to focus better in this workshop, how to set goals and meet them. I’m not sure how many of my main blog posts will be dedicated to my workshop progress, but I will document all on the Creative Workshop page.

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