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I have been seriously researching freelancing for the last week (I am a true academic - all research and no action ha ha) and it looks a lot more boring than it sounds. You have to be prepared to do a lot of bad web writing, advertising, etc, to break in to it, then you have more freedom to write what you want. I am at a loss for where to start since I have no portfolio, because everything I've ever written is owned by oil companies and the government. If you are looking for information, I found to be pretty useful.

I took a creative writing course in undergrad that basically acted as a writer's group. Because we were all unpublished and just beginner's, everyone was very enthusiastic and we had a lot of fun. Every week we met for class, did some actual schoolwork, then handed out our stories and critiqued eachother's work. It was great starting out because you had to get over your shyness about your writing really quickly, and it was all constructive criticism because no one was experienced enough to consider themselves an "expert" (and we all had to play nice if we wanted to pass the course). Too bad the experiences aren't so good once writers get out into the real world, it sounds kind of like it gets competitive and catty.
QUOTE(solaria @ Apr 2 2009, 08:15 AM) *
I think I've had writer's block for two and a half years now. Well, it started as writer's block anyway, now maybe it is just avoidance? I always resolve to start a writing practice, but it hasn't gotten far. Lack of confidence? Laziness? what is at the root of this? I used to write constantly. Lyrics and poetry mostly. I can't believe I haven't even kept a journal for over two years. I was really making progress, and then....a few bumps in other areas of my life, and I started a "serious relationship" that took my attention. now I am constantly trying to find that balance again.

I feel the same way. All unbalanced, distracted & gone too long. I'm even starting to feel like, 'well I haven't written anything in x long, and I haven't dropped dead and the world hasn't caved. Maybe it was never that important for me at all.'.

I'm really shy to write in my journal now. I get a conflicting feeling of anger and blase.
QUOTE(girl_logic @ Apr 4 2009, 08:51 PM) *
I'm really shy to write in my journal now. I get a conflicting feeling of anger and blase.

I get the exact same thing! It's been about 10 years since I wrote in a journal because I get a few sentences done and then just think, "wow, this is self-indulgent and boring. why am I doing this?" even though I used to love it. I think it's because now I am less shy, and my friends and boyfriend now get to hear my inane ramblings instead of me writing them down on paper.

I used to think that I was going to be a writer, no matter what. Now it takes a lot of effort to get anything out. I know no one loves their job, but if I'm 25 and don't have the passion to have already done more than this with my writing, it must not be as important to me as I thought. The sad thing is, I know I'm good at it. But in the past, writing filled a need for expression that isn't as strong as it used to be. Maybe it was something about being a teenager.
angie -wow, I could have written that post. I'm coming up on 25, and I'm beginning to feel like I need to produce something or admit defeat.
But then again, Dostoyevsky wrote his best stuff after 40 innit? At least, I'm hoping I'll be able to pick up again later. I get worried that it's not like riding a bike AT ALL and that if I don't practice I might dry up. But maybe we'll all just turn a different flavour like unopened wine.

QUOTE(angie_21 @ Apr 5 2009, 06:23 PM) *
I get the exact same thing! It's been about 10 years since I wrote in a journal because I get a few sentences done and then just think, "wow, this is self-indulgent and boring. why am I doing this?" even though I used to love it...

And I wonder if that's why something like a Livejournal can be so freeing. Because, at least there appears to be a rational for writing about yourself since it's more there than this audience of yourself, and more of a community feeling there. (I've stopped doing LJ too though, of course rolleyes.gif )

There was a woman who used to post here (Miss Thing I think) who started doing the 100 words a day challenge using her livejournal. Come to think of it, that might be a good idea if the site is still up. hm.

edit: it looks different than it use to but it's still here
wow, it is such a relief to hear that there are other girls with these thoughts! I have been starting to think that maybe I am just lazy or a big fraud.

For me, another thing is that my efforts go towards a lot of other pursuits & activities that are fulfilling in the way that writing used to be. So I should be happy that I am experiencing these things, and also all these experiences could contribute very much to better writing in the future.

I think you're right though, GL, that a lot of authors out there got better with age. I don't think people can "dry up" and lose their talents, but if my experience is any indication, it's easy to lose the passion and creativity if you don't work on it. I guess my problem is that I have never tried to "force" my writing, thinking that the creativity would somehow strike all on its own. I don't think I'd ever be able to do a livejournal (more out of fear that no one would read it than anything else lol). I am starting to wonder, though, if I shouldn't just admit to myself that I am meant to be an academic writer, not a creative one.
I agree with angie that talent never "dries up", but I think its like a yoga practice, if you put it on a shelf for a long time you will be very stiff when you start up again. But it's not about doing it "while you're young", or anything like that. If you really intend to cultivate it, it will happen at the right time.
I have long since let go of the dream of writing for a living--career-wise. But I feel so guilty for "squandering" my gifts. Like "oh, these gifts aren't good enough, so I'm too embarassed to use them" when of course they are in my hands to develop and craft, and doesn't everyone suck at the beginning? Doesn't it take a lot of bad (really, really bad ) writing to finally break through and create some good writing?

I am really glad to be talking about this. I am going to check out the livejournal thing.

so I checked out LiveJournal, and I'm not so down with it. Mostly because of the "no delete" aspect. I guess it is really publishing your words as you can't go back and edit or delete anything you post. If I were going to publish, it wouldn't be my journal, I would be way too self conscious, and probably a little dishonest.

I did write some stream-of-consciousness in my journal on Wednesday until I filled the page, and it felt good. I remembered what it felt like to have a relationship with know, when they come to your mind all on their own? It was lovely.
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.
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.
anna k
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).
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.
Chairman Miaow
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.

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.
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.
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!
anna k
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.
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.
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?
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*

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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
Epinphrine, did you know that there's a community of busties on lj, if you go that route?

Jezzie, are the conferences always held in New York?
BTW Jezebel, I love your Evil Slutopia blog. Do you write all of it?
Hi all! I'm new here and looking forward to posting in this thread - I'm writing about my life in work, just the different weird jobs I've held down. It's not really for publication just to keep my memories - and that's the problem..Does anyone have ideas for ways to jog memories from your own past?

Stank - If you've kept diaries or journals, looking back can really help, because not only are you going remember what you did but how you acted. It can be really funny and interesting (and at times, embarrassing) to hear how you talked and what seemed important to you at certain times in your life. Another thing that really helps me is listening to music I was really into at some time or another. It's amazing the things that will pop back into your mind. I can't listen to a Descendants album without remembering the summer I was 15 and worked at a pool club - it was disturbing how often little kids would poop in the pool, sending masses of wet slippery people running for their cabana. Hilarioussssss.

Sadness abounds sad.gif

Creative writing group all cancelled on our first meeting, and only one person besides me thinks that they might make it to another. I suspect chronic lameness!

It's a shame, because I find the group dynamic really helpful. The quality of the feedback isn't as important as the tacit permission to write, the respect that someone pays you by reading your words.

Do you think it would work to have an online group? I was thinking that I could start a blog, and offer to post people's work (or excerpts) and provide feedback in the comments. I'd probably mix it up with blog entries about writing and creativity, and if a few people were interested we could do group challenges and exercises.

Would anyone be interested in joining in?
I would I would! I was actually thinking of suggesting something similar. I tried to start a creative writing group with memebers of my class after it ended. Three people (including myself) showed up to our first meeting, and it was really good, and I kept trying to get people together, but nobody ever showed up again. I gave up after three subsequent no-shows.

I just really need some kind of target for my writing. I can't focus if I'm writing for my eyes only. Even if I manage to get some words down, they're scattered and unfocussed and I quickly give up in disgust. So chalk me up for a big "yes" to an online writing group!

I might see if I can lure Bunny (I know she does a bit of writing) as well, and will email the people from my course.

We'll have to have a think about the mechanics of it - would it work using a blog site? I'd be happy to run it and post on people's behalf (anonymously if anyone's feeling shy!). I think we'd have to limit the length of each extract for practicality.

We could set challenges/exercises, then I could post the results together for comparisons and contrasts.

There might better ways of doing this - a forum? a closed site? - but blogs are about the limits of my internet-savviness rolleyes.gif

ETA: epinephrine, I've sent you a PM.
Do shut up, FlyT.
Anybody still using this thread?

This weekend I went to an Urban Writers Retreat £35 for a seat at a table in a room without wifi for 8 hours and while that may sound a little ridiculous it was AWESOME.

I got 15 pages written and think some of it was even good.

Still feeling a little braindead but also back in love with my idea and my draft.

What do other people do to motivate?

I'm going top try to sort out my writing space with pictures and things that I find inspirational in order to make it a more inviting corner.
Crossposted in the Busties of colour thread:

I think someone posted a link a while ago to an article by Ursula K. Le Guin regarding the lack of non-white characters in fantasy and science-fiction. I thought it was interesting, but it didn't really click with me until I started reading Octavia Butler's books. I'd get a few pages/chapters in before finding out the first-person narrator wasn't white, and it gave me a little jolt every time - I hadn't realised until then that I always assume characters are white if not immediately specified. Then I thought 'How weird would that be if it happened every time? If I had to get used to the default skin colour being something other than white? If I had to accept that jolt as normal?'

So, that made a tiny lightbulb go on in my head.

Anyway, I write stories, and have recently started worrying about the lack of diversity in my characters. It seems wrong to make every single one white, it seems dishonest to ignore race when describing them, and it seems really wrong to go down the route of tokenism and just change the colour of one without changing anything else about them (is that tokenist?). But my family/friends/cultural references are all overwhelmingly white, and I feel that I lack the tools to write realistic, non-cliched, characters of colour.

I don't want to force this into my writing out of political correctness - it feels like a big area of life that I've been ignoring, and I think my stories will be richer for thinking about this dimension.

Any thoughts?

[Also, hi pants! I'm going to one of their weekday retreats on Monday, and am really glad that you found it useful. By the way, I read your blog the other day and think we live quite near each other - I'm in Herne Hill. PM me if you fancy meeting up to get some writing done sometime!]
Persi, I'm not sure. I think it's about asking yourself what you really *want* to write about, and what kind of effect you want to have on your readers when you're telling your story (all your readers, not just the ones from your own racial/cultural group).

I'm a fan of Octavia Butler's stories and what she does when it comes to race.

The one thing that's always bugged me is that her black characters never seem to worry about their hair. (with apologies! but still) Unless it's cropped short, my kind of hair (and presumably her characters') takes a very long time to manage and gets a lot of attention in my day to day life. (I swear this isn't a "why don't we ever see characters in the bathroom" kind of comment - even though it will inevitably come off that way standing next to Butler's genius.) If I were going around having adventures, finding my fore-mothers, traveling through time, there would definitely be a note in there about me putting on a hair-tie or braiding it out of my way.
drive-by posting, but:


racialicious had a good discussion of a related issue a few weeks ago, dunno if you caught it:

Ask Racialicious: How To Read And Respond To Literature Of Color

Comment #24 mentions a writing community specifically for white writers interested in writing characters of color.
Ooh, I missed that, thanks! Great article, especially the discussion in the comments. I will invest in some quality lurking time at that writing community.

I also liked one of the other links to tips about writing about race in novels.

Edit: I liked the article's advice to acknowledge the whiteness of characters, at least to yourself; to get out of the default = white mindset. That sounds like an achievable baby-step to writing well-rounded characters of different ethnicities.
QUOTE(Persiflager @ Jun 22 2010, 12:40 AM) *
Edit: I liked the article's advice to acknowledge the whiteness of characters, at least to yourself; to get out of the default = white mindset.


This part I don't think I agree with:

If my story doesn't require that my characters affiliate with a specific ethnicity (as with some fantasy or science fiction books, for example), could I err on the side of giving my readers' imaginations enough space to "see" the characters any way they choose?

It's their loss if they always picture an all-white cast, but defining an ethnic secondary character solely to "broaden kids' horizons" makes us guilty of patronizing them and tokenism. Not good.

Not for an author who's genuinely engaged in seeing and portraying the world in all its messily multitudinous, complex, constantly challenging glory.
Yes, also I can't really imagine how it works in practicality - surely even the most cursory physical description must imply race? I can't see how it would work to not describe someone at all.

I imagine that the writer you've quoted below wouldn't think of themself as defining a character's race as white by describing her as blonde and blue-eyed, for example, but it would require a leap of imagination (or great stubbornness) to picture her as anything else.

I followed this link in comment 21 (ten tips for writing about race in novels). I'm not sure about the first piece of advice, to ignore race and focus on ethnicity; it seems like a bit of a cop-out to me. The fact that a character is black will affect how she moves through the world and how the world reacts to her in a way that, say, having Scottish grandparents won't.
QUOTE(Persiflager @ Jun 24 2010, 12:42 AM) *
Yes, also I can't really imagine how it works in practicality - surely even the most cursory physical description must imply race? I can't see how it would work to not describe someone at all.

I followed this link in comment 21 (ten tips for writing about race in novels). I'm not sure about the first piece of advice, to ignore race and focus on ethnicity; it seems like a bit of a cop-out to me. The fact that a character is black will affect how she moves through the world and how the world reacts to her in a way that, say, having Scottish grandparents won't.

Yes, and yes. The more I think about it, the more it seems like she's got an unrealistically simplistic view of the world. Or she's expressing herself poorly. I mean, Tip #1 is titled "Forget about 'race'" as if race and ethnicity don't cohabit the same person, but then in her detailed explanation there's "There really isn't a generic "African" race, for example -- there are groups who speak Kikuyu, Zulu, Ashanti, Fulani, etc." which acknowledges that both skin color and ethnicity can be forces of equal intensity.
I figure someone in here might be able to benefit from this (or know someone who might):

"The Institute for Interactive Journalism and the McCormick Foundation are seeking to fund four women-led projects that will rock the world of journalism.

We will fund individuals who have original ideas to create new Web sites, mobile news services or other entrepreneurial initiatives that offer interactive opportunities to engage, inspire and improve news and information in a geographic community or a community of interest. . . ."

$12,000. Apr 4/11 deadline. US-based projects only.
Roseanne Barr eviscerates Hollywood
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