Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Frustrations with writing

I have a love-hate relationship with writing. Sometimes I feel like I don't deserve to characterize myself as a writer; sometimes I think it's the only thing I can do reasonably well.

It's frustrating. Throughout my life, I've been searching for something I can do well, but I've found that I am, at best, mediocre in everything I've done: playing piano, saxophone, art. Everyone I know seems to have found a specialty in something, be it music, art, writing, schoolwork. A few years back, I realized I was good at writing. I would always get very high grades in English and history classes. A lot of my teachers through the years have told me that I am an excellent writer, and I show some promise. I remember writing many stories as a kid, too.

As I became more of a perfectionist through my early teenage years, I stopped writing all but academic essays. I became frustrated with my own fictional writing, so I stopped altogether. Apart from a short Harry Potter fanfiction-writing period in 10th grade, I couldn't stand reading my writing anymore. I think it started mostly from the fact that I started reading well-written novels extensively, and my perfectionist mind wanted to write like that too. Obviously, writing like that takes a very high level of skill that comes with intensive, consistent writing, as well as a bit of talent. Whenever I would try to write to improve my writing skills, I would realize that I couldn't write like that and get so annoyed I would quit. I would refuse to continue out of embarassment.

I know that maybe if I would just keep writing, I would eventually get myself out of this writers' block rut. But I can't. My writing skills outside of academics have deteriorated because of this, and it annoys me. I know that maybe if I would pull through, I could become a decent writer outside of academic essays.

A couple weeks ago, my former English teacher/current psychology teacher told me I write beautiful prose. I was so flattered that I vowed to attempt to start writing again. I think about writing again a lot now. I tried writing again last week with little success, but I'm remaining hopeful that maybe I'll finally pull myself out of this perfectionism and embarrassment and actually write.


  1. I quit things, even if I enjoy them, due to being a perfectionist too. It's really quite depressing. If I knew how to get out of this rut myself I'd share it with you!

  2. I start writing a story and I think it's really good, and then I re-read it and it is absolutely awful and I have to delete it all.I hope you get out of the rut!

  3. Ray Bradbury's schedule was to write one short story every week (regardless of quality). Out of that came some good stories and there's always the chance to go back and revise.

    I edited my most recent novel while reading Fellowship of the Ring and it's the first time I didn't get depressed at writing that was better than mine. Instead I tried to figure out what Tolkien was doing that was different from me and why it worked better. That way I can improve.

    That being said it's important to find your voice. I had zero inspiration for a novel for a long time and so did short stories, thinking that's where my voice was. Maybe your writing is supposed to be humorous or artistic or suspenseful, you'll never know until you try. And even the good novel writers have terrible stories that they never let anyone see, don't judge yourself strictly on the 5% of their writing that they let you see.

  4. Stick at it is all I can say.

    If you truly enjoy writing and find it rewarding, you'll hit your stride eventually. Your teachers were right, you do write extremely well. Your blog posts are always great to read and very well written and structured, so you have definitely got talent.

    You just have to give it time I guess, to find out what it is you want to get out there in written form. It'll come, in due time.

  5. I do the exact same thing with singing. I love it and I think I'm decent, but I listen to people like Emmy Rossum and Lea Salonga all the time and it makes me feel terrible as a human being. I have to realize that I am Andrea, not Emmy nor Lea, and accept the level I'm at right now, while still striving to be like them. You've got talent. I have to remind myself that I won't be like Emmy or Lea by never performing. That's why I think you should keep writing. :)


  6. The best advice I ever received was to never stop writing, to write at least a paragraph a day, and to persevere; write what you know, what you feel, in a style that's comfortable for you. Like Jay said, it's really about finding your voice.

    You are an exceptional writer--everything will fall into place, I have no question.


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