Monday, May 17, 2010

Cut the Crap

Okay, there are a lot of different parts of the writing process that I hate, but this is probably the part that I hate the most. You know the feeling you get when you're just cruising and the words come like water?

This is the opposite, when everything you come up with seems like the worst thing to ever be put in the written word. And it's frustrating because you can't get to the good stuff until you churn out at least five pages of crap. You try everything to skip this step, but you CAN'T. This happens a lot when I take a break from writing. I have to write a ton of crap before I start feeling satisfied with what is going on at my fingertips.

This is me, being frustrated. Except not a man. The facial expression is similar, though.

I had 27,000 words of the third part of Three (my fan fiction; bear with me, I am obligated to finish it because it's basically novel length and it would be lame to quit). I was just so unhappy with it that I knew I couldn't finish it unless I did editing. Hardcore editing. So I gritted my teeth and cut 5,000 words. That is a lot of words. Then I wrote 2,000 words just to get myself writing again. They were crap. Crap, I tell you. I basically created an argument between characters just so I could create dialogue. I saved it, went to bed, and realized that it was completely untrue to the characters. Why would they randomly get in an argument? I was making a cardinal mistake in telling my characters what to do because it was part of my master plan. Feeling like an idiot, I laid in bed and asked for the first time in a long time - for my characters to talk to me. 

And this is why I have a blog. Because non-writers would think this is psycho. Who talks to people who aren't even real? What size straitjacket do you think they'll put me in if I ever casually remark on this in public?

It worked, though. Really, it did. (Thanks, Anne Lamott, for teaching me to turn off radio station KFKD.) Today, I cut those 2,000 words and wrote 2,000 words in replacement and I think - knock on wood - that I am past that churning out crap stage to the point where I can write things I can leave on the page.* And it makes me very, very happy.

But I still hate the crap stage. Why does it have to exist?

*I am really paranoid that I will wake up tomorrow morning and be ragingly unhappy with what I wrote, just because I typed up this post.


  1. Have you tried writing a story that's a bad-writing catcher? Like a story you don't really care about but write in whenever you've taken a forced 'writing holiday' and need to get back in the swing of things. And then never edit, just write until you feel like an author again and can switch back to your original story.
    Of course, the inevitable problem for me is that I always fall in love with the stories, and start to take them seriously, which means lots of editing. But often, they're not as badly written as I thought they were! :D Anyway, it's just an idea.

  2. That's actually a pretty awesome idea and I've never thought of it before. Will try it next time!

  3. Wow, Bethany's idea is pretty awesome! It reminds me of this fanfic I wrote with my friend waaaay back when. It was super serious and super depressing, and being us, we can't take anything too seriously. We kept messing ourselves up by writing in RIDICULOUS stuff because the uber serious tone was too much for us to take. Finally, we started a spin-off story, which was basically the same story but we were allowed to go on all the random, improbable, and totally irrelevant tangents we wanted to go on.

    Okay, that tangent aside, I think I'm in the same stage. I keep revising my opening scenes in these three unfinished stories, but I can't make any headway in the later scenes because everything I write makes me wonder if I've lost my touch FOREVER. A touch over-dramatic, but I get really frustrated. Anyway, I hope you're out of your crap stage. GOOD LUCK!

  4. I've had the same look of horror on my face many a time. Love/hate, love/hate. That's my writing experience!

  5. I love Bethany's idea! It's definitely something I do when I fall into the Crap Stage of whatever I'm working on.