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  1. #1
    Retired Staff Frank LeRenard's Avatar
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    Bad habits, and where we pick them up

    I feel like we must all have weird habits, tics, assumptions, however you want to categorize them, about how writing should be done, that maybe aren't necessarily justified. Things you hear in writing group discussions, or maybe read in magazines like Writer's Digest, or in books about how to write, and so on. We always find these strong pronouncements by authors about why their method is the best method, and it ends up influencing how we approach the craft ourselves.

    I came to realize recently, for example, that I have this weird concept in my head about the use of one's spare time for writing. Every time I sit down to write, I feel like the most important thing for me to do is to just get words out, no matter how sloppy or disorganized, and so whenever I find myself just sitting there, at a loss for ideas, considering how best to phrase a particular sentence or construct a particular paragraph, I get this twinge that I'm wasting time that could be spent actually getting words on the page. I can trace that idea back to a few places, one of which would be NaNoWriMo, which by construction forces you to write like that (otherwise, good luck finishing each November).

    But the fact is, what happens when I do write that way is I end up with a shitty draft that takes four times longer to fix afterwards. I think they teach this in school in the form of an adage, even, but things like NaNoWriMo for some reason come along and say, "No, that doesn't apply to writing."

    And maybe for some people it doesn't. Maybe some people do much better if they get into a groove, if they get absorbed. But not me, apparently, and therefore not everybody. So the method that NaNoWriMo teaches is therefore not universally the best method. Once I realized that, I began to spend a lot more time taking breaks from actually writing, and instead using the time to just sit and think about the big picture of what I'm doing, to take notes on the logic of certain ideas and connections between them throughout the course of the story, and so on and so forth. And while I don't yet have a final product to show as a test case, when I go back and read what I've done so far, I'm much more pleased with it. And that in turn gives me the confidence to proceed, which is something I lack when I go back and read what I've written and realize it's a horrific mess, and then inevitably see the years of revisions required stretching out before me like I'm sitting at the event horizon of a black hole.

    Anyone else have any bad habits they'd like to discuss? What are they and where do you think you learned them? And if you don't know any offhand, I might encourage you to think it over a bit more just in case, because you might be damning yourself to unnecessary frustration like I was.

  2. #2
    Senior Gnarl's Avatar
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    The only really bad one i have is making the characters dialogue sound like i said it! I have to stop that but speach patterns are hard to break.

  3. #3
    Retired Staff Frank LeRenard's Avatar
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    That has to be common. I guess you could always go the Brian Jacques extreme solution route and give everyone a silly (and difficult to read) accent.

  4. #4
    Frank, I am completely new here but I've just read your post and I just wanted to recommend "Power of Habit" to everyone that is interested in that matter. It's very well written book that everyone will easily understand, yet it's very powerful. It explains how habits are created. There are no 'golden rules' or any guides there. Just a simple explanation how habits are created in our brains

  5. #5
    I definitely overuse words sometimes, but it's only when someone else reads my work that I can notice them. Always need an editor to point these things out!

  6. #6
    Sometimes mix up UK and US english too

  7. #7
    Senior Gnarl's Avatar
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    Doggywolf67
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    you could always find and join a writers group, then trade beta reads.

 

 

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