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  1. #1
    Melissa VanHouten

    Give up or keep going?

    I have been having these book ideas since I was 12 yrs old. They come to me kind of like a movie in my head. The problem is that I can't seem to write them. I have tried everything and I mean everything. From writing classes to how to books and still nothing. I can't seem to get past the first few paragraphs (4 pages is the farthest I've ever gotten), without thinking 'That's not right' or 'That sounds horrible' and then ripping it up and throwing it away. I am now 35 yrs old (almost 36) and the most I have written completely is a few poems that have been published in school papers or my yearbooks. My ideas are great and pretty detailed. Definately best seller material if I had the talent to put them on paper but I don't. Hiring a ghost writer is out of the question because I can't afford it.

    Right now I am ready to just throw in the towel, admit I have no talent and just forget about writing altogether. The only problem with that is that the ideas don't stop coming to me. So should I just give up and block out the ideas or should I keep on trying? I mean its been almost 24 years and I haven't written anything other than poetry. An honest opinion from someone other than my husband would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Patrick Edwards

    Re: Give up or keep going?

    Hey, Melissa I feel your pain

    If 4 pages is all you've gotten through in your years at this, then my thinking is that you haven't really given it a chance. Seriously, you'll be quite amazed at the crap that begins a project, and a "finished" product.

    What I'm saying is that you need to chug away at the story idea until it begins to gel, and ain't not telling how many pages that may take (4.5 pages, 22, 167?). On a personal level, I've had to go back and literally delete the first six chapters of a project because all of that, I realized, was just the feeling-out process. It allowed me to introduce and flesh out characters, as well as flesh out the idea.

    Now, that said, perhaps you need to begin slowly. Maybe you can try short stories. In a way, with your poetry, that's what you've been doing. Perhaps a novel isn't in you; although, any novel is filled with many short stories. So, there you go, yo. Hope that helps

  3. #3
    Amanda Brenner

    Re: Give up or keep going?

    If the idea of putting these thoughts on paper has been gnawing at you all these years, do it now! Perhaps you haven't gotten very far because no one idea could support a novel. Could you either turn your ideas into short stories, or link them with a thread that could be turned into a novel length manuscript?

    The only reason to quit is if you really don't want to do it any more.


  4. #4
    Lisa P

    Re: Give up or keep going?


    Don't give up if you love doing it!

    You might try writing just one scene involving your main character. Try not to re-read it right away, just move on to the next scene. You can always go back and tie them together.

    Resist the urge to edit as you go and don't throw pages away; let them sit on the shelf for a while, they might not be as bad as you think after fermenting.

    ; )

  5. #5

    Re: Give up or keep going?

    "Definately best seller material . . ."

    Thinking in such grandiose terms is probably part of what keeps you from producing any actual work. Come down to earth, Melissa.

    Like any other art, writing is an hour-to-hour activity. It requires putting your butt in the chair and focusing. Lots of people have "great" ideas. That doesn't make them writers.

    It isn't a crime not to write. If you aren't drawn to doing the work, that's fine. You probably excell in other areas of your life. Don't torment yourself. Write or don't write, but don't suffer over it.

  6. #6
    nancy drew

    Re: Give up or keep going?

    Oh Melissa;

    You sound awfully hard on yourself. I couldn't write either if someone told me my work sounded horrible and ripped it up in front of me.

    I'm with Lisa. Why not give yourself permission to write terrible stuff? Everyone starts somewhere, and how can you improve if you constantly berate yourself?

    In fact, why not intentionally try to write a few pages of truly horrible prose. See just how campy and dreadful you can make it. You could have the skills, or not. But brutalizing yourself will prevent you from ever finding out.

    Best of luck.

  7. #7
    Keith .

    Re: Give up or keep going?

    What Leslee said, only she said it nicer.

  8. #8
    Chuck Shaw

    Re: Give up or keep going?


    IDEA (not mine, but something I read claims that it works!)
    If you gave the idea for the story, scribble it down as an outline, or just a series of declarative sentences. Example;

    1. Man gets transported to Mars
    2. Kidnapped by non-human Martians (4 armed giants?)
    3. Fights to become a member of the tribe
    4. Falls in love with near human Martian woman captive (princess)
    5. Rescues woman from non-human Martains
    6. Uses status in tribe to bring tribe to aid of womanís group as they are about to be conquered (big battle scene)
    7. Becomes prince of realm, marries woman

    Donít try to write a book from scratch if you know where you want to go. Only nuts like me with half formed ideas of ďwhat ifĒ just start writing and see where the characters take the plot. That method isnít for everyone. (Iím not even sure itís for me. Lots of re-writes.)

    Once you have a bunch of events strung together, try writing scenes for each one, then start filling in between them. The theory is that eventually you meld them together and have a book. This lets you write in small chunks and still work on a book size manuscript.

    Does anyone recognize the best seller outlined above? It has been in and out of print for a little over a hundred years now!


  9. #9
    Gary M.

    Re: Give up or keep going?

    Perhaps you need a place to receive feedback on what you have written? That may help tremendously. There is a link to my website in my profile if you're interested. It's a small community, but we're growing!

    There is a workshop area where you can post your story excerpt so we can help you out. And a chat forum and games to relax with like-minded people. As well as a writing issues forum for individual issues that come up.

    If you have any questions - PM me. My username is Garmar there and I'm the site administrator.

    Hope to see you there! And never give up!

    Gary M.

  10. #10
    Lisa P

    Re: Give up or keep going?

    Oy vey...

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