Monday, June 23, 2014

I am a terrible writer

I don’t think I’m a terrible writer from the technical and craft standpoint. I think I’m pretty good at creating believable and relatable characters, developing characterization for them, describing scenes, writing good action sequences, and I’m even getting a decent grip on dialogue.

I know the basics of story structure, plot elements, plot devices, points of view, and I’m even starting to get the hang of developing the story from an outline, rather than by the seat of my pants.

No, where I fail is in the delivery. I have absolutely zero discipline when it comes to just putting my ass in the chair, my fingers on the keyboard, and my focus on the current project. I am easily distracted by all manner of things outside of writing (resistance). Occasionally I can muscle through all of that and grind out a good word count. An on rarer occasions, I can even do so until I can type the proverbial “The End” (how many people actually write those words when they finish?).

Then there is the fact that I am easily distracted by new ideas. If the book I am reading isn’t in the same genre as my current writing project, there is a real danger of my attention wandering off, leaving the WIP unfinished. Same goes for movies I see, games I play, etc. Just yesterday, Xbox Gold offered Super Street Fighter IV for free download. And after I got it loaded up, I found myself drawn back to the late 90’s when I was practically obsessed with fighting games.

Related to that is my (unhealthy?) obsession with tabletop roleplaying games. Just last week I got a couple of issues of an indie RPG Zine, and I suddenly became overwhelmed with the idea of doing one of my own.

My one saving grace is deadlines. When I have had a deadline that is carved in stone (more or less), I’m able to produce. Two of my stories were for anthologies that had a fairly set deadline. And even though both fell through, I was able to get my word-count perfect within the allotted time. The same goes for school work. Even though I almost always procrastinate, I have always managed to get a decent effort in by the due date, and most often sooner.

Unfortunately, setting deadlines for myself never works. In can tell myself over and over “I have to have this story done by this date.” But, the fact of the matter is, if there’s not someone outside asking for it, or even just expecting it, it’s too easy for me to blow off that artificial deadline.

I think I need to go back and re-read The War of Art. And this time really listen to the words, and take them to heart. Because, at this rate, I’m never going to be anything more than a scatter-brained dreamer with a bunch of short stories to my name.


Charles Gramlich said...

I also start a lot of stuff I never finish. I think a lot of writers do. Some of these things I finish years later.

Tim Shorts said...

I have got so many half written stories and adventures. I think it's a very common ailment with writers and creative types overall. We are easily distracted. And boy, we become the best damn cleaners in the world when we are supposed to be writing.

Keith West said...

You are not alone. I have many unfinished stories. Maybe I can finish some this summer.

Tom Doolan said...

I appear to be in good company. :)