I don't know where I stand from a literature standpoint. I write mainly just so I can remember some ideas I came up with. Something of a "do it for me" kinda thing. Then when I go back and read over these ideas, I the problems with it technically speaking and strive to make it better.
One thing I've noticed with myself as I've grown is that before I used to really like focusing on the technical plot point. I liked more of what was happening as opposed to who it was happening to, but now those things are reversed. This is sort of in line with the TV shows and comic books I read now, too. I need to see why and how the characters react in the way they do instead of what they're reacting to. I guess that's a good thing.
I never posted so much of my work on DA (language barrier... not good with translating... etc). I did, however, learn quite a lot from just hanging around at DA's forums. Not about writing itself, but about how many more writers struggle with the same problems as I do. And that I'm not that bad at thinking up story's as I thought I was. I guess I grew some confidence over the years
If you continue to work at it, it will. Have you heard of Malcolm Gladwell, and his book Outliers? His premise is that putting 10,000 hours of practice into any skill is enough to be able to call yourself a master, in part because nobody would stick with anything for that long without seeing some sort of incremental progress along the way.
Yeah. I've heard about that theory. I've been writing ever since I was 6 years old (Yeah... weird childhood obsessions) almost every single day. And the days that I didn't have time to write, I thought up new storylines in my head. It has become sort of an idle process for my mind. Something that it does automatically when I don't have to focus on something else. I guess with that, I've made it already way over that 10.000 hours limit, a few years ago. I kinda noticed my writing style stabilizing back then. It's not that I haven't improved after that. I'm still thinking up story's and writing on a daily basis, but I don't hate my old work as much as I did years ago
So would it be fair to say that at this point, you're a master at creating and plotting out stories, and rapidly closing in on the mastery of putting actual pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, as it were)?
Or do you consider yourself to have already mastered the process, and what's left is refining your style?
Well... it's quite hard to determine for yourself whether you mastered something or not. I don't think one can judge himself so objectively. But I do know that, in the sense of storytelling and world creating, I'm at least very close. I've been talking with many people on the subject over the years, and I noticed how I can easily match up to people that are way older than I am and have created way more professional works, in that sense. As for writing itself. I feel like I'm getting close. My style still changes, but it's a matter of years, not a matter of months, like it always used to be. There are still many things I feel like I need to, and need to try, in order to see what I'm actually capable of. But I've at least found a writing style that I'm comfortable with, and that has some emotional impact on readers.
I feel like my grammar and editing skills have improved. I used to abuse commas, fragments and run-on sentences so much. I've kicked my adverbs addiction but I'm very impressed with my improved vocabulary precision and voice than I was say five years ago. I'm handling critique and feedback with more grace, patience and perspective than I thought I was originally capable of.
All valid gains! Adverbs used to be the bane of my own existence as well, until I borrowed a trick from Gabriel García Márquez: he would go through his manuscript, and remove every word that ended in '-mente' (the Spanish equivalent of '-ly') rewriting the sentence as necessary. He had to do it by hand; these days, tools such as Ctrl-F make it a piece of cake by comparison.
And handling feedback means having a willingness to learn and to accept alternative viewpoints. With a mindset like that, you can't help but go far!
Adverbs in their own right are not evil; it is a writer's laziness or abuse of them that makes them malicious. My use of adverbs is sparse, but I do try to rewrite what I can and avoid using adverbs as dialogue tags.
Dear god, Feedback is a godsend. I wish many (amateur) writers and artists would realize that critique and feedback is not an insult or personal attack, neither is it to inflate their ego. Critique is meant to help them put their best work forward.
You might get some enjoyment out of this Wikipedia article, especially if you've never heard of a Tom Swifty before. [link]
The issue is that critique, by its very nature, often fails to take into account the one thing beyond its purview: the writer's real intent in requesting feedback. A healthy attitude like yours is what we (and what we should) expect; but too many novice writers are actually looking for either an easy shortcut or a quick ego stroke. When they don't get it, they feel put out, and often try to recapture some of their self-worth by going tit-for-tat with the critic; and if they lose that round as well, they're like as not to swear off the whole criticism thing, in the same way that Aesop's fox swore off grapes.
Oh god, Tom Swifty they can be hilarious as puns, not so in a serious prose, it comes off as idiotic and lazy.
Indeed, when requesting feedback. I ask what kind of feedback they are wanting. when they lie that they want to improve and I give them suggestions or point out I think they can improve and where things work well. Then they are at fault for wasting my time, efforts and opinion when they throw a conniption.
"Should I keep mentioning Tom Swifties, or let the matter drop?" Tom asked deliberately.
Of course, if it's not done on purpose, you're right: it can be a crutch which sometimes a struggling writer isn't even aware that she or he has.
As compensation, it may help to bear in mind that giving feedback is never a waste; even if it doesn't help your target (or falls upon deaf ears) it has still made you that much of a stronger writer yourself. That's one of the reasons they say that the best way to learn is to teach.
I was wondering whether anyone was going to bring up dialogue! There's certainly a knack to getting it just right; did you cut back because it didn't always work for you, or because you were over-relying on it in place of other story elements?
My writing has improved immeasurably since (re-)joining dA. The feedback you can't get here is invaluable. At the same time, though, I've had to start asking myself: are you writing this because you want to? Or are you writing it for dA? 'Cause when I try to impress, I tend to fail miserably.
I've improved so much since joining dA, but I've been writing more free verse poetry than anything, so my prose has taken the back seat. Even to the point that writing prose is intimidating to me because my thoughts are so scrambled... I lack organization, really, which could be fixed if I actually planned my writing. What I'm trying to say is, I've learned so much, but the learning process won't end anytime soon, or anytime at all.
I agree. It's something I'm planning to do as soon as I get a little free time. Definitely the right way to go.
I look at things I wrote last year and say the same sorts of things. Even some the pieces I've written in the last months I look back on and see only mistakes. Luckily, I don't get discouraged and try to learn from my mistakes. Whether I really take something from them or not is one thing, but I do try. I guess that's the only thing you can do as a writer!
Joining dA has given me the courage to write, something which I have not done in years (for several reasons). So far it has only been fanfiction, but that has been my exercise before I branch out into more original material. Yes, I have experienced writer's block, but I've set myself a schedule or writing something--anything--each day and that has worked. Of course most of it is not worth printing, but the point is just getting the thoughts and words out.
I'm pretty tough on myself and even a short piece will go through several revisions before being posted. I always appreciate comments--I'm always looking for feedback and ways to improve!