Feeling a bit "forced"?

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JessiFox
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Feeling a bit "forced"?

Post by JessiFox » 25 Mar 2014, 16:55

Do you ever find that elements of your writing feel a bit forced or out of touch with your original intent? I notice this most frequently in my own writing in terms of characters. I'll start out with a great feel for them, a natural progression of their personalities and stories almost as if I'm meeting them. Later on, their story lines or interactions sometimes drop off in how efficiently they just come to me...and I feel a bit disingenuous "forcing" it too much.

Any tips or tricks for when that happens?

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Post by AmandaR » 25 Mar 2014, 20:17

JessiFox,

I have not pursued writing for this very reason. It often does not come naturally to me. I have a great idea, and as time goes on, the writing becomes forced. Sometimes what helped was to go back and read the first portion I wrote within the story. That way, I regained the feeling. Stories get deeper and more intricate as you write, but it has always been good for me to return to the original. It reminds me of the original feelings and motivations I had for writing the story. Then, hopefully, those carry into what you are currently writing.

I am sure other people have better suggestions, but I hope that helps. Best of luck!
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Post by JessiFox » 27 Mar 2014, 18:13

Thanks for the reply, Amanda. I've tried that technique a bit but I suppose I should take it a little further before I could fairly say it doesn't work for me. It can be hard to maintain or reclaim that original spark that was so inspiring in the first place.

Thank you =).

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Post by TrishaAnn92 » 27 Mar 2014, 19:48

JessiFox, I have noticed I go through the same problem. What I usually do when it starts to happen, is take a break from writing and when I am ready put on some music to help me get into the mood or enhance the mood I'm in and then read through the story I'm writing until I get to where I left off and then go from there.
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Post by H0LD0Nthere » 27 Mar 2014, 21:09

Hey JessiFox!

Your post reminds me of a scene from Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. Anna and her lover Vronsky are in Western Europe, and they visit a well-known artist who has just completed a painting of Christ Before Pilate. As they are looking at it, Tolstoy (as only a master can do!) takes us smoothly into the thoughts of the artist. He is in agony whether Anna and Vronsky like the painting, whether they see the same things in it that he saw and tried to capture. Then the next moment he tells himself, "But I KNOW it's good, I shouldn't care what they think!", and he goes back and forth.

The part of this that applies to your post: in the artist's thinking, the process of painting was a matter of "taking off the wrappings." He is aware that he did not do a perfect job "taking off the wrappings." There are some parts of the painting where he rushed taking them off, and to his mind, bungled.

It's as if the perfect painting was there, and it was his job painstakingly to unearth it.

This is best description I have ever seen of my creative process writing poetry or fiction. When the wrappings don't come off, or when our clumsy hands pulling them off squish what is beneath, then we have to make something up and try to make it look what we think ought to have been there ... or at least try to make it match the other stuff. Is this what you mean when you say your writing feels forced?

I don't have a perfect answer, but the fact that Tolstoy was familiar with this means ALL writers experience it! And that even in a finished novel, perhaps Tolstoy felt there were some parts that were imperfectly "unwrapped."

In my limited experience writing fiction, sometimes I do go back like AmandaR does, but at some point I just have to go ahead and write the forced stuff, and go on writing until the story starts flowing again. You can go back and edit the forced stuff. Perhaps the next time you look at it, the muse will appear and show exactly what's wrong with it and exactly how it needs to be. That happened with me other day, when I revisited something I had not had time to look at for more than a year.

Hope this helps and encourages you.
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Post by npandit » 28 Mar 2014, 05:02

What I have heard some authors do is they write the full descriptions (like little biographies) of each character, along with their motivations, likes and dislikes, and then solidify them in their heads before continuing with their story. Or, I would say, maybe as you go through the story--edit the character more when you start on the next draft. Hope this helps!
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Post by Jbessy » 29 Mar 2014, 22:29

I agree with npandit. Writing a character history is always very helpful. Also I find that once I get to my second or third draft of a piece the characters make a lot more sense to me than they did the first draft. You really just get to know them.

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Post by ConorEngelb » 31 Mar 2014, 10:00

I usually just push on when I feel things getting a bit forced (maybe shifting the focus a bit, so I can take a break from whatever is giving me trouble) and then later on I'll come back and tidy up the forced-ness.
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Post by spoiler2010 » 06 Apr 2014, 13:07

I saw a very interesting article that made all the sense in the world. If you're a hobbyist, whether you write or not will make little difference to you or the world in general. If, in fact, God put you in this world to be a writer, then you will reach a threshold where you accept this as a job as well as an adventure. As the 'business owner' that you are, you realize there is no closing up shop because you don't feel like being there, or merely going through the paces because you have no boss. You put your hand to the plow every day, and your self-motivation determines whether you have a 'slow day at the office' or push yourself to have a great day at the keyboard.

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Post by indomitablereader » 06 Apr 2014, 17:22

I've found that it works best for me to spill my mind on the page; the human brain is a tricky organ and sometimes our subconscious only relinquishes superb ideas once. Most of us are not blessed (or cursed) with a photographic memory. Jot it all down, in a kind of coherent stream-of-consciousness kind of format.

You can always subtract from what you've already created if it doesn't work. Sometimes adding to a past thought is like trying to coerce a vegan to tolerate and even enjoy affluence's obsession with fur.

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Post by spoiler2010 » 06 Apr 2014, 17:29

indomitablereader wrote:I've found that it works best for me to spill my mind on the page; the human brain is a tricky organ and sometimes our subconscious only relinquishes superb ideas once. Most of us are not blessed (or cursed) with a photographic memory. Jot it all down, in a kind of coherent stream-of-consciousness kind of format.

You can always subtract from what you've already created if it doesn't work. Sometimes adding to a past thought is like trying to coerce a vegan to tolerate and even enjoy affluence's obsession with fur.
That's why it's a good idea to keep pen and paper at bedside. Lots of times we come up with awesone ideas or dream sequences that we can lose by the time we reach the bathroom for that morning leak. One might even wake up in the middle of the night with something so mind-exploding that it startled us. I think most writers would double their output if they were able to harvest those REM brainstorms.

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Post by H0LD0Nthere » 06 Apr 2014, 20:35

spoiler2010 wrote:I saw a very interesting article that made all the sense in the world. If you're a hobbyist, whether you write or not will make little difference to you or the world in general. If, in fact, God put you in this world to be a writer, then you will reach a threshold where you accept this as a job as well as an adventure. As the 'business owner' that you are, you realize there is no closing up shop because you don't feel like being there, or merely going through the paces because you have no boss. You put your hand to the plow every day, and your self-motivation determines whether you have a 'slow day at the office' or push yourself to have a great day at the keyboard.
Hey, thanks for this summary of the article.

I agree with everything in the article up to the second half of the last sentence, with its implication that "pushing yourself" will always result in a great day at the keyboard. We all know it doesn't always. That's what this whole thread is about.

Have any of you read anything by Anne LaMott? She has some great, side-splitting descriptions of the writing process that include, to clean up her language a little bit, the Crappy First Draft. And she describes writing a page, then reading it over and feeling terrified that she will die before someone finds it and discovers that she really never could write in the first place. :lol: And then she describes finding maybe one line in it that has promise, and which then becomes the basis for what she writes next. It's all in her fantastic book, Bird By Bird.
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Post by spoiler2010 » 06 Apr 2014, 20:46

Hey, thanks for this summary of the article.

I agree with everything in the article up to the second half of the last sentence, with its implication that "pushing yourself" will always result in a great day at the keyboard. We all know it doesn't always. That's what this whole thread is about.

Have any of you read anything by Anne LaMott? She has some great, side-splitting descriptions of the writing process that include, to clean up her language a little bit, the Crappy First Draft. And she describes writing a page, then reading it over and feeling terrified that she will die before someone finds it and discovers that she really never could write in the first place. :lol: And then she describes finding maybe one line in it that has promise, and which then becomes the basis for what she writes next. It's all in her fantastic book, Bird By Bird.
I think the misunderstanding may be the word 'always'. The gist of the article was that we cannot afford to pamper ourselves if our endeavors have evolved to the level of cottage industry. We do not want to become the self-indulgent prima donnas who have to wait for 'that moment' like lovelorn maidens-in-waiting. If we were reporters for the New York Times, I guarantee that we would not have the luxury of waiting until our creative juices begin flowing.

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Post by H0LD0Nthere » 06 Apr 2014, 20:54

Yes, I certainly agree with you there, spoiler2010.

And for me, "writing through it" is actually the way I deal with "forcedness."

I'd just hate for anybody to get the impression that, if your drafting is awkward today, it's because you're not "motivated" enough, which was what I thought that last sentence seemed to imply. As you say, it just means ... your drafting is awkward today, and that stinks, but you'll come back to it and rewrite it and it will be better.

You're right that professionals cannot afford to sit around and wait for the Muse. However, I do believe there is such a thing as the Muse, and its presence or absence makes a huge difference in the flow of our work.
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Post by spoiler2010 » 06 Apr 2014, 21:12

H0LD0Nthere wrote:Yes, I certainly agree with you there, spoiler2010.

And for me, "writing through it" is actually the way I deal with "forcedness."

I'd just hate for anybody to get the impression that, if your drafting is awkward today, it's because you're not "motivated" enough, which was what I thought that last sentence seemed to imply. As you say, it just means ... your drafting is awkward today, and that stinks, but you'll come back to it and rewrite it and it will be better.

You're right that professionals cannot afford to sit around and wait for the Muse. However, I do believe there is such a thing as the Muse, and its presence or absence makes a huge difference in the flow of our work.
Sure is, and that's what rewrites are all about. If we let stuff sit on the back burner for a while, you never know what it can turn into. Over half the work I've published since last year was lying around for nearly two decades. Being productive doesn't necessarily mean the work is 'ready for printing'.

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