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> The Writer's Block
Jezebel
post Jul 17 2009, 11:59 PM
Post #21


BUSTie
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Posts: 64
From: Evil Slutopia


Long shot, but is anyone a member of the International Women's Writing Guild? Lilith and I go to their summer conference every year and it's really amazing, and cool because it doesn't matter what type or 'level' of writer you are. Everyone's welcome.


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epinephrine
post Jul 17 2009, 11:53 PM
Post #22


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Posts: 636
From: Chongqing, China


I miss my whiteknuckle creative writing bootcamp from last summer. Just an english comp course from the local community college, but it was a summer course, which means the whole thing was condensed into 7 weeks rather than 14, and the pace was just insane. For a procrasturbator like me, anyway. Under 20 students, two three-hour lectures and an essay a week, and one hard-ass teacher who didn't let us get too satisfied with ourselves and pushed us to do better and work harder and think deeper. We were all top english students, used to getting A's and lots of praise, but she gave nearly everyone a C+ or worse for our first few assignments and shook us all up a bit. It was her technique for little snots like us. I did some of my best writing in that class. It was a creative nonfiction course, and I wrote an essay about the combat boots I got when I was 13 and how they shaped me growing up, reviews of a hardcore show and a bunch of midway rides, a piece about the significance of my first tattoo, and an essay about an old friend who was transitioning from female to male. The absolute best thing about that course was that I had no time to change my mind a hundred times about the topic, and that forced me to think outside the box. Once I got an idea, I just had to stick with it and see what I could come up with. I had to learn to open myself to inspiration. I came up with the idea for the boots essay, which I really loved, after overhearing my teacher and a student discussing their shoes.

I hate writing for myself; I just can't focus my thoughts if I'm writing something for my own eyes only. It just becomes a slushy, stream-of-consciousness mess with no unifying, central drive or message. As a result, even though I'm a good writer and I feel an intense drive to do it, I hardly write at all when I'm not in school. I should look into this livejournal thing. Lately the only place I write is on Bust. This is like my journal. I can't even do that much without an audience to keep me focused - every time I've tried to keep a journal in the past I've just lost interest halfway through each entry until I eventually gave up altogether.

I took a poetry course a couple semesters ago hoping it would help me tighten up my writing and bring it some more life and colour, and it turned out to be the biggest disappointment ever. This idiot's idea of a poetry class was to pick a form from our text every week, like haiku, couplet or sonnet, read a buch of poetry in that style, and then send us home to write poetry, with the only criterion being that we stuck to the prescribed metre, rhythm and rhyme schemes. What the fuck is the use of that? I could do that at home. My grade 9 English class was more comprehensive than that. I was really hoping we'd be learning to distill our impressions and emotions and images into words, doing writing exercises to get past that internal censor that makes us hesitate and correct ourselves, learning to open ourselves to inspiration, that kind of thing. The kind of thing that actually makes you a better writer, that you can't necessarily do by yourself by copying shit out of a book. Ugh. I'm still pissed about it. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when I went back and reread some of the things I wrote in that class. I actually liked some of it. Needless to say, the one I liked best was the only one I ever got a bad mark for.


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To be free one must give up a little part of oneself.
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girl_logic
post Jul 14 2009, 07:47 PM
Post #23


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Posts: 276


for Aural: Of all the ways of acquiring books, writing them oneself is regarded as the most praiseworthy method [] Writers are really people who write books not because they are poor, but because they are dissatisfied with the books which they could buy but do not like. (Walter Benjamin, 1931)


AnnaB, I almost always start at the end or at the crisis for short stories and then try to figure out how to get there. Sometimes I get a good line in my head that I want to use, and then try to think of a story that would have brought it about or the type of person who would say it.

You could also create some characters first, randomly don't worry about writing a story yet, give them each a back story and personalities, pick your favourites and then let them meet.


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There are years that ask questions and years that answer. - zora neale hurston
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annabananahannah...
post Jul 14 2009, 06:53 PM
Post #24


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Posts: 185
From: state of chaos


i'm having trouble staying focused long enough to start a short story. i'm having trouble coming up with an idea that is concise enough for the format.

any advice?


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what y'all lookin' at, biznotch?!
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auralpoison
post Jul 14 2009, 08:32 AM
Post #25


Big Fat Bitch
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Posts: 4,932
From: Citizen of the world


Of course not! That girl can barely speak English, let alone cobble together a cohesive narrative. And the worst thing about it? Is that it's the first in a THREE BOOK DEAL. She's so "honored". Well, fuck you, Lauren. Celebutwats like her get OFFERED three book deals with zero experience, no cred, no nothing because of some MINOR, glassy-eyed, pseudo-fame. ARGH!


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"You're cute, like a velvet glove cast in iron. And like a gas chamber, a real fun gal."
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lananans
post Jul 14 2009, 07:09 AM
Post #26


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Posts: 682
From: Southwestern Ontario


AP -- I can't BELIEVE that either! Lauren Conrad??? Best Seller????? It turns my stomach to think about. I doubt she even wrote the damn book.
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angie_21
post Jul 12 2009, 06:46 PM
Post #27


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Posts: 662
From: Alberta


I had to google her name just to know who you were talking about. yeah that is sad. I get a similar feeling everytime I walk in to Chapters. How a giant store full of books be that depressing? oh right, because it's all stuff that never should have made it into print. ever.
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auralpoison
post Jul 12 2009, 04:05 AM
Post #28


Big Fat Bitch
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Posts: 4,932
From: Citizen of the world


I have pretty much decided that I am going to drive a truck for the rest of my life. Lauren Conrad is enjoying her SECOND week on the NYT best sellers list. Seriously. It's OVER. I resign myself to the mundane, but necessary arts. Garbage collecting, dusting, etc. I felt all good . . . fuck it nobody'll read it anyway. The fucking Hills.


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"You're cute, like a velvet glove cast in iron. And like a gas chamber, a real fun gal."
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Persiflager
post Jul 10 2009, 09:01 AM
Post #29


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Posts: 721
From: Babylon


Woo, I just entered a short story competition for the first time ever! I don't think the work I've sent in was particularly good, but I'm really pleased the deadline forced me to finish something properly.

*dances triumphantly and practices answering questions for magazine interview*



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“Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence.”
Morris Kline (mathematician, author) 1908-1992
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Persiflager
post May 21 2009, 03:25 AM
Post #30


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Posts: 721
From: Babylon


Cor, stand-up comedy! I bow my head in respect for your hardcore bravery. Would you do it again?

ETA: My course will end in a few weeks, and I'm thinking of asking a couple of the people there if they want to form a regular workshop group. I get on well with both of them outside class, and I think we've all had complimentary but constructive things to say about each other's work. Does anyone have any tips on setting up an effective group? Do you think 3 people would be enough?


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“Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence.”
Morris Kline (mathematician, author) 1908-1992
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auralpoison
post May 20 2009, 11:02 PM
Post #31


Big Fat Bitch
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Posts: 4,932
From: Citizen of the world


Comedy? Is really fucking hard. I did stand up a few times & it was quite literally the scariest fucking thing I ever did in my life. You write it, you tweak it, you leave it alone so you don't cock it up completely. That two minutes is an eternity. But when it works . . . that's magic.


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"You're cute, like a velvet glove cast in iron. And like a gas chamber, a real fun gal."
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anna k
post Apr 28 2009, 08:43 PM
Post #32


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Posts: 1,687
From: NYC


Yay Persiflager! That was really good to read, and I'm glad it went so well for you.

Aww, that is sweet, angie.

Chairman Miaow, I've written for Venus mostly (on their website), but have also had things published by The Square Table and The Village Voice. I'm actually going to be reviewing a movie for Venus this weekend, I'm looking forward to writing it.
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angie_21
post Apr 28 2009, 04:33 PM
Post #33


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From: Alberta


Chairman - creative writing is most of what I (used to) do. My best ideas came from describing something I saw or felt earlier that day that made an impression on me, then building a story around it. I've never been more than a page ahead of myself in terms of what would actully happen. I could always edit out the useless stuff later.

I did write a page and a half last week, and let my boyfriend read it. He told me I better keep writing because he wants to know what happens. He is such a sweetie smile.gif

Persi - most people I know agree that writing good comedy (whether for music, movies, or fiction) requires a lot of talent. Go you! It's pretty easy to pull on people's heartstrings with drama (I mean, all it takes is a 30 second life insurance or dog food commercial!), it's like we're hard-wired that way. But to think of new, creative ways to make people laugh - in other words, NOT being seth rogen *shudder* - that means something!
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Persiflager
post Apr 22 2009, 09:22 AM
Post #34


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Posts: 721
From: Babylon


Bah! Just hit wrong key and lost post.

I went to my first creative writing class last night and really enjoyed it! Initially terrifying, but I enjoyed the exercises and the other people there were supportive and unpretentious (except possible one woman who talked loftily about being in the middle of 3 novels, but she didn't say much after that).

I read out one of my exercises and everyone laughed at the right points, hurrah! I hope they don't take me less seriously because I like to write comedy - everyone else seemed to be going for quite serious, atmospheric writing.

I wrote most of a poem and several story ideas on the way home, and felt so centred.


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“Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence.”
Morris Kline (mathematician, author) 1908-1992
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girl_logic
post Apr 22 2009, 07:56 AM
Post #35


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Posts: 276


yeah you're right c.miaow - you can delete and edit, and you can control the privacy levels too. you can even make an online journal that only you can read.


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There are years that ask questions and years that answer. - zora neale hurston
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Chairman Miaow
post Apr 22 2009, 12:11 AM
Post #36


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Posts: 26
From: WA


Solaria: You can totally delete things from livejournal. I've kept one for about eight years now! (shit, I'm old.)

Anna K: I write reviews too! Is it brash to ask who you write for?

I find I am struggling a lot with creative writing. I can knock out any kind of review or interview just fine, but I have such trouble just coming up with anything creative or autobiographical. I have a short story competition deadline I'm staring in the eye, but I'm too knock-kneed to get started.



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A hundred years after we are gone and forgotten, those who never heard of us will be living with the results of our actions.
-Oliver Wendell-Homes
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girl_logic
post Apr 21 2009, 09:56 PM
Post #37


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Posts: 276


Good vibes to all the scribblers!

Since my LJ is pretty much defunct or outgrown - or whatever it is, just not useful for me right now tho maybe I'll go back to it when my confidence/interest is up there again - I've been experimenting with different mediums for writing. I have a little portable typewriter that I bought when I realized I'm never going to be able to afford a laptop - so I've revived it and put it to work again and it's fun! (although every once in a while I think, derisively "good ole' pen and paper not good enough for ya' eh?"). Anyway it's not as intimate as handwriting, but it's keeping my fingers focused on producing something at least.

Anna K, I like that idea of keeping a notebook for later - instead of trying to get it all down and done right at once. It seems like it would take the pressure off.


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There are years that ask questions and years that answer. - zora neale hurston
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anna k
post Apr 18 2009, 08:43 AM
Post #38


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Posts: 1,687
From: NYC


I have to make myself continue to be a creative writer, because it can feel like my creativity would dry up.

Solaria, you are so right about everyday life feeling dull and not feeling motivated to write, just going through the motions and stop caring. I may just write reviews of music, movies, and books, but I love analyzing stuff and paying tribute to great artists and trying to turn people on to great stuff. I feel better when working on a review, it feels productive and new and interesting.

I will take notes on something in a notebook and work it out there, then type it on the computer so it will look cleaner and neater (my handwriting is kind of scratchy).
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solaria
post Apr 18 2009, 06:57 AM
Post #39


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QUOTE(angie_21 @ Apr 10 2009, 05:03 PM) *
I just can't convince myself that what I'm doing is worthwhile compared to all the other things I should be doing. Hmph.


Well, definitely creative expression is worthwhile. Even if its just for you. The trap of modern life is that our creativity gets eaten up by having to work all the time to pay the bills, even if you're lucky enough to have a creative job, often the work aspect takes away all the play, which is what it's all about. I think that bottled up creativity can affect your health, even if its just emotionally or mentally at first eventually your body will take it on...because (and this is my humble opinion) humans are creative creatures, and we need to share our gifts. Look at tribal societies, where singing and dancing and music are way more central to everyday life. I think it's a real need. It helps us process things, it's therapeutic.

I also have a hard time working on a computer, unless I'm writing a paper, because I can type a lot faster than I can write and also I know I won't have to retype it. For poetry or other personal writing I definitely prefer a notebook.

I find caffeine is good for helping me write, if I really need the extra boost. In college I was a fan of using Ritalin, but it totally sent my emotions out of whack.
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angie_21
post Apr 10 2009, 04:03 PM
Post #40


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Posts: 662
From: Alberta


I still feel weird typing a journal instead of writing it out on paper, never mind posting it online afterwards! I wrote a page and a half last week that I am very happy with, but every time I sit down to continue (I hit a blank spot already!) I check my email, then check the job postings, then realize how messy the kitchen is and go run the dishwasher. I can't get past the feeling that it's too self indulgent to do during the day, when I should be working towards school and getting a job, but by the evening I'm too tired to be creative. Endless cycle. It's not procrastination, though, because I don't get that "ugh" feeling when I sit down to write that I would if I sat down to study or write a paper. I just can't convince myself that what I'm doing is worthwhile compared to all the other things I should be doing. Hmph.
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