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Writing about writing is harder than writing about things that aren't anything to do with writing

In Process on April 21, 2009 at 7:20 pm

I think that the biggest problem I have is that I really don’t think I am a good writer. I don’t mean this in a way that is designed to provoke a complementary response. What I am trying to say is that I am not very good at writing.

I cannot write narrative. I find dialogue almost impossible to write. I do not understand how work should be structured. I do not understand anything about writing.

The other day, I tried to organise a structure for the novel I am very slowly writing. It was not helpful. I think the main problem is that the book I am writing does not have a plot. I don’t think that I understand what a plot is.

What I know and understand is the feeling of euphoria I get when I am writing something. I feel as though fire is encasing my mind. My thoughts seem physical when I get that feeling. The feeling I get happens when I know what I am working towards. I feel free in my mind.

I find it easiest to describe images or emotions or memories. I think that the reason this is easy for me is because I have a strong connection to these things, as I encounter them all of the time. These things are not alien to me.

But to me this doesn’t count as real writing; I am not crafting something, I am not creating a ‘work’. It is too immediate and not planned. No real thought goes into any of my writing. That is why I am finding this so difficult.

Occasionally, I think that if I applied myself in a sustained and planned way I could produce something really fantastic. I am too worried though. These are common feelings and I am aware that I must be coming across like a stereotype as I write this, but I think that all writers are essentially the same: arrogant, neurotic and somehow seperate from the world that they portray.

Socrates Adams-Florou lives in Manchester and writes at Chicken and Pies.

  1. I’ve rarely attempted to write fiction for precisely these reasons. But I’ve stopped comparing myself to other people. I write what I write: it might be weird, whimsical, intense, pretentious, whatever. I don’t worry any more. It’s what I do and it’s authentic, even if it’s not always very good.

    You might want to have a look at this.

  2. i am an arrogant neurotic bastard and i can write

  3. I know I’ve said this or thought this a lot so it’s probably really creepy now, but I think I would be Socrates if I were from Manchester and liked chicken and pies and had a penis.

  4. ‘I think that all writers are essentially the same: arrogant, neurotic and somehow seperate from the world that they portray.’

    this seems very possible.


    i don’t often do narrative. and i really struggle with ‘order of events.’ i like to tell myself that it’s just because i more naturally write poetry & prose poetics. i don’t see myself ever attempting a novel – and i’d be totally floored after page one if i ever attempted to make anything ‘sequential.’ but on a slightly different note – i don’t really think in linear terms, and so i tend not to write that way. which seems simple enough.

    i mostly agree with hg – though i’d say from my own point that maybe one’s writing may fit it into general niches – and it vaguely comforts me when mine does, sometimes.
    but on some level i think writing needs to stand alone to some degree for one to keep believing in it at all.

    i’m sure i’ve been to enough classes & workshops where they probably taught us tips for ‘structure,’ and development’ and stuff like that. (and i guess i promptly forget them.)
    but in the end, i feel like the ‘aunthenticity’ thing is key. if one writes in a way that’s most natural to them and it sometimes ‘works?’ (whatever that means) that seems most important of all. i’m not convinced narrative / dialogue / structure are as important as writing that just flows – even if it’s in an atypical way.

    (sigh. that wasn’t meant to be a stream of consciousness essay.)

  5. i have had no formal writing training at all, i did take one creative writing class at a community college, while the junior professor was lecturing about structure, i wrote a story that got published. stream of consciousness worked pretty good for kerouac

  6. Truman Capote on Kerouac’s work: “That’s not writing, it’s typing”.

  7. I’ll take Kerouac over Capote, but whatever. Kerouac was also blasted out of his mind on drugs, so I hope the suggestion isn’t that Socrates ingest a deathload of benzadrine. Or maybe I hope that is the suggestion. Yes, I do hope that. Drugs are fine. So is booze. So is neither.

    Socrates, this is all I have to say to you: Your essay thingy was very well written.

  8. I was thinking too that structure, pacing, etc. are all technical things that you can learn. You have an innate sense of the language, you’re honest, funny, talented – those things can’t be learned.

    Sorry. I know that doesn’t really help how you feel inside and also it maybe sounds a little cliché or earnest or trite or something. I’ll shut up now.

  9. :/ I know what you mean, how you feel.

    Although I update my (private) blog quite often, I have this nagging feeling that none of my friends really understand what I’m trying to put across.

    Of course, there’s no “plot” in what I’m trying to say. I’m just trying to say something. Communication is the hardest form of writing. You have to realise at some point that the whole point of it all is to make someone at least know what you’re talking about, if not understand your point of view.


  10. Wow – I just checked this for comments. Thanks everyone very much.

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