Fiction writers, can I ask for some advice?

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  1. poppyr profile image95
    poppyrposted 5 years ago

    Hi, everyone. Thank you in advance for reading; this is a little long-winded.

    When I was a kid, I loved writing books. I'd sit at the computer for hours, typing. I knew I was going to be a writer one day. Even my elementary school teacher said I had talent.

    When I was 22 I got a publishing contract and my dream came true! Except the publishing house had no idea what they were doing and everything fell through. Some people who said they'd liked my books later confessed they saw problems but didn't want to say anything. Since then my confidence has been completely destroyed. I'll open something I'm working on, think to myself, "this is awful, why do I waste my time on this" and then close it. I have three started projects that I can't finish because I believe they're total trash.

    I really want to enjoy writing again. It made me so happy when I was a child. Now every word I write, I think, "stop, you're just embarrassing yourself." How do you fiction writers out there maintain confidence? It's not that I can't take criticism - I welcome it - it's just that I can't bring myself to write anything because I believe anything I write is terrible and people are too nice to tell me.

    Any advice at all is appreciated. I'm also not looking for feedback on my work, just some help on how to move past this mental barrier that's been in place probably three or four years now. It's gotten to the point where I can't write anything at all.

    Thank you.

    1. Eurofile profile image96
      Eurofileposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      How would it be if you start off by writing a kind of journal for your eyes only so that you can gain a little confidence?

      1. Senoritaa profile image82
        Senoritaaposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        I second that. I went through a writer's block for about 4 years. The way I came back was by starting to write in a diary every day, for over a year. It worked for me. I am still going through the block partially, but constantly working on the diary writing to overcome it one step at a time. I wish you all the best.

    2. Gyanendra Mocktan profile image82
      Gyanendra Mocktanposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      There are wonderful people here in Hubpages they will surely give you the best tips about your problem.

      I am having the same problem. But I have to write. Keep on trying is the best solution.

      Thank you,

    3. chef-de-jour profile image96
      chef-de-jourposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      I feel for you I really do and can only hope that you'll get back on track sooner rather than later. I sense that your love of words will get you through eventually.
      Can I suggest that you try and objectify the whole situation a little? How? By shifting the idea that you have a problem to one side and looking at the issue from a distance so to speak. Difficult but not impossible, in fact as a writer you probably have a special talent for viewing things from different perspectives?
      I think you'll agree that as a writer and creative person you're not alone when it comes to lack of confidence and uncertainty about what you're creating? I think in the whole history of literature (and the arts) there is not one writer/artist who hasn't suffered for their cause and gone through hell not of their own making!
      Just think of all the authors who have sent off manuscripts and had them rejected by editors...some famous authors...time and time again. But that hasn't stopped or deterred them because something inside inspires them to continue.
      Just think of all the writers, journalists and freelancers who have their work edited and chopped and critiqued everyday...and yet they still produce stuff, they still get on with the job.
      At the moment you appear to be doing the job of editor yourself, and rejecting your own stuff. That's a bit wacky don't you think? Editors are rational beings above all else; they're looking for work that they specifically need and will always reject more than they accept so have a think about your self-editing regime and ask yourself why you do it.
      I know it must be hard for you but remember, writers are special, they deal with language and ideas and it's not always a smooth process getting them out on the page. In some respects it has to be tough because if all writers had no problems creating perhaps the world of fiction and storytelling would be so much the poorer?
      I am certain you'll get over your self-criticism and start writing again. Objectify your position, rise above criticism and rejection - not easy - and crack on.

      1. MizBejabbers profile image90
        MizBejabbersposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        chef-de-jour, I love your answer. Good thoughts.

    4. MizBejabbers profile image90
      MizBejabbersposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Poppy, I am a professional editor (retired) who really had problems writing fiction when I first began, so I see myself in you. Like you, I loved to tell stories when I was a little girl. I think I inherited this from my father. But I started my career as an ad writer for broadcasting writing creative commercials that ran for a few days and then became obsolete. I moved into news and wrote news for about 5 years. Then I became a copyeditor for a newspaper for three years. See a pattern developing here?
      I got a job with the state editing lawbooks. I loved the work so much that I stayed for 30 years. That job taught me to excel in grammar, punctuation, all the mechanics of writing because I was correcting someone else's work, and sometimes rewriting it. It nearly ruined my creativity,  and then I joined Hubpages.

      I thought it would be a great opportunity to write fiction, something I had always dreamed of doing but never had time. Well, I was awful. I would take a good idea and turn it into the most boring, matter-of-fact wonder I didn't get an awful lot of hits and comments on my work. I started studying other hubbers, especially the ones who had a lot of followers. What did they have that I didn't have. Creativity with words, that's what. I kept on writing and began to improve. I learned to develop my own style and not follow theirs.

      That is something that you must learn to do. Develop your own voice. Write like you are talking to someone. Most of my stories now I work out with conversations in my head while I'm doing mundane tasks like washing dishes or folding laundry and I try to write down key points on paper. I don't outline, I just let the story flow in my head. If I don't have something definite on paper when I begin, lots of times the story doesn't go where I wanted it to go. When I sit down to the computer, many times I go as blank as the screen in front of me. I've heard other hubbers say that also. Try rehearsing in your head and see if it helps.

      Also, there is a writer on Hubpages who specializes in answering questions from writers. He answers anything from mundane writing to complicated publishing questions. If you are not already following Bill Holland (Billybuc) then may I suggest that you do. He publishes a hub called Writers Mailbag every Monday, and he welcomes questions from everyone. He's really a great guy and can become a good friend.

      I hope this answer isn't too long, but I saw myself in your question. The biggest compliment I think anyone paid me was when a coworker, an editor with a PhD. in writing, said to me "you've found your voice." That is what you need to do. Find your voice and it will make your writing easier. You have the desire. I know you can do it.

      1. Gyanendra Mocktan profile image82
        Gyanendra Mocktanposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        Your sharing here is so inspiring. This is practical tips for aspiring writers like me. Thank ou

      2. whynneypoet profile image67
        whynneypoetposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        I am really glad that you commented on this.Thank you.

    5. Sean Dragon profile image73
      Sean Dragonposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      I am just trying to write things from my Heart. If when I read them make me proud then is alright! Write to enjoy it, to be happy and that's good enough!

      My best wishes to your Muse!


    6. Sandralizzz profile image76
      Sandralizzzposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      My best advice would be to just write. Don’t do it with purpose just do it. As children we are more carefree and activities such as writing come easier. Going back to that state of mind will help you enjoy it more. Write about things that you are interested in. Things that you’re passionate about tend to flow easier.

      Good luck,


    7. samanthacubbison profile image82
      samanthacubbisonposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Creative writing is a very isolating hobby, so you are often your own worst critic. (It can also be difficult to commit to a writing schedule.) Something that I have found to be very useful is using a platform like Meetup to find local groups for workshopping your stuff, and to simply have some company while you write. Hang in there! You do phenomenal work already, but I know that fiction is a beast of its own. smile

    8. profile image0
      Yamuna Hrodvitnirposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      Self doubt is probably main dream destroyer. I don't think there's any standardized method for overcoming it.

      My advice is to write for yourself. Write in a way that makes you happy, and don't worry about how other readers might feel about it. Your real creativity will come out best when you're writing for the art of it rather than writing to please people.

      It's nice when people like what you create, but that's not the real reason why we write.

      I guess basically, you do you! There are so many people in this world, if you like it, someone else will as well.

    9. profile image0
      Cherri Jaramilloposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      Writer's block comes in many forms. For some it's entirely mental, they cannot work through the drama in their own lives, and it wreaks havoc on their creativity. For others, its purely physical, they cannot seem to find the time, the quiet, or the place to just sit down and write. What works really well for me, on either account, is just getting out of my head for a little while through online Role Playing. It gives me a chance to write with other like minded people, and give my creative writing a jump start again. Plus, I truly love to write, no matter what form it's in. smile

  2. Paul Balagtas profile image82
    Paul Balagtasposted 5 years ago

    In my case, I was writing script for plays before. Last I wrote was in 2000. But I focused on being an Engineer until my career as an Plant Manager ended in Feb 2018. I had failed suicide attempts and really don't know what to do. I tried writing a play...I can't....I tried writing short stories....I can't...Then I tried writing poems and  by the grace of God, I was able to express  my struggles through poetry....So in my case...It was my brokeness that led to my reinvention as a writer... smile

  3. Robert Beyer profile image79
    Robert Beyerposted 5 years ago

    I'm right there with you, fear is the hardest thing to overcome, but you can do it.  The first thing you should remember is that it doesn't matter what anyone thinks about your writing.  The only thing you can do is put a story out there and write it. 
    I have to tell my self that every day., and then I decided to put this in my head
    Just Write Something  (JWS).  it doesn't have to be good and it doesn't have to make sense, it just has to be thrown out there.

    good luck.

  4. KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image79
    KoffeeKlatch Galsposted 5 years ago

    I understand what you are going through.  I believe that joining a writers group may help you tremendously.  Plus, I have found the more I write on sites like hubpages the easier it becomes to express myself.  You need to relax and build up your confidence.  Don't let one bad experience ruin it all for you.

  5. poppyr profile image95
    poppyrposted 5 years ago

    Thank you everyone for the good advice.

  6. psycheskinner profile image80
    psycheskinnerposted 5 years ago

    If you had a publishing deal that fell through you have done more than the great majority of writers because you have a finished work.  You might try getting a beta reader via a site like the Absolute Writer forums and finding a new home for it.

    1. poppyr profile image95
      poppyrposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      In my experience beta readers just say “it’s very good” without giving any real feedback that’ll help me improve. I’ll check out Absolute Writer though, thank you.

    2. psycheskinner profile image80
      psycheskinnerposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      I beta read there and they mean more towards mercilessly goal-focused critiques.  Just be sure to post your goals, genre and tropes to get people with the right experience.

  7. HoneyBB profile image93
    HoneyBBposted 5 years ago

    I have the same problem. What I realized is that I used to write and write and write and then immediately reread what I had written and only notice the flaws. This would cause me to never look at it again. So, I changed the way I worked. Now, I write and write and write and then I put it aside for a week. When I reread what I wrote I go into it taking note of whether or not it flows. I ask myself specific questions like "Am I showing or simply telling?" "Are my descriptions vivid enough?" "Is there enough action throughout to keep the story moving along?" etc. etc. etc. This has helped me to make better my original draft and not to put it aside forever.

  8. poppyr profile image95
    poppyrposted 5 years ago

    Thank you for your kind advice and time, everyone. I'm feeling much better now big_smile

    1. snakeslane profile image82
      snakeslaneposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Good post poppyr, I found a lot of useful feedback in this thread. I would add, go with your heart, try not to censor yourself. And be on the look out for writing challenges, and contests. Sometimes the challenges take you to places outside of your comfort zone, and that's always a good thing, it also gives you an opportunity to share with peers.

  9. Stacy Birch profile image72
    Stacy Birchposted 5 years ago

    My mom is brutal and my sister is always truthful, find a writers group, a club, start small club of writers, people can read in a group and mark their copies, it can be confidential, they writer their opinions and hand in their copies.  Finding a Writers Guild can help too.

  10. FleurdeViolet profile image70
    FleurdeVioletposted 4 years ago

    Honestly, what I found helped was writing without thinking, and then editing later on. Writing is very much, at least for me, a flow sort of thing - starting is hard, but once I get into the groove of things I can generally come up with ideas. Don't worry about what other people think; you'll know when you have something you're willing to show to other people.

    Online communities (like Discord servers and Hubpages) also help to provide places to get feedback without necessarily having to worry about humiliation - after all, the stakes are lower when it comes to people you don't know as well.

    tl;dr: Getting back into writing is about starting. Online communities are useful.

  11. mrik07 profile image60
    mrik07posted 4 years ago

    I will add anything extra and just don't ask me any question.Just flow with me -

    Go and read - The power of your subconscious mind, The 5 Second Rule, Blink by Malcommm Gladwell, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F&*k

    Just go and start reading these books. These will surely bring you out of this mental disorder. Surely It would take a lot of time but you're gonna enjoy this journey.



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