As you may know, I began a writing class a few weeks ago. This has so far been an interesting experience.  Here’s a few random thoughts.

  1. I am totally rewriting the “novel” I started- as soon as I began the class, I realized that I had issues with the way the novel was set up.
  2. When we learned about plot last week, we learned that the main character needs to want something, and that is what makes up the crux of the book.  Well- here’s the thing- I know my general plot.  I know my characters.  But I have no idea what she wants, because I keep rethinking the ending- I have two distinct endings in mind, and now I’m stymied as so how to write the book if I don’t know how it’s going to end.
  3. Apparently Stephan King (I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, but he writes books)  has no idea where his books are going when he begins writing- so I could be Stephan King like.
  4. Apparently, Truman Capote (who, you say?  Just think Audrey Hepburn) knew exactly what he was going to write.  Should I be Capotesque?
  5. I can not refer to my “novel” without putting ironic quotes around novel- need to work on either self esteem or sense of irony
  6. I feel confident about my writing until I hear what other people wrote.  I know I’m not alone in this, because every one of my classmates prefaces their reading with some sort of disclaimer as to how bad their piece is in comparison to everyone else’s.  Comparing is a bad habit.  Unless it’s me comparing to other works because mine truly are worse.
  7. I do not always like writing exercises, especially when they do not include dialogue.  For some reason, I like to have my characters talk.  Could this be because I am somewhat loquacious?  Hmmmmmm…….have to think about why my characters talk so much and there is so little internal monologue.
  8. My characters all end up funny.  I don’t know how this happens because I am not that funny in real life.
  9. My function over form attitude to just about everything could be a detriment.  I am finding that I don’t really describe a scene- I throw in little details about the setting, but I need to work on creating a visual picture.  I forget that just because I see the details in my mind, no one else does.  And those details help to create your character.  I may practice by writing posts in which I go into excruciating detail about the 5 rooms that make up my apartment.  then I will describe the contents of every drawer and cabinet.  If you are lucky, I will tell you what’s on the shelves and surfaces…..
  10. Writing is easy.  Writing something that someone wants to read is hard.  I have to determine what is more important- pleasing myself with my writing, or finding an audience.  While I realize they are not mutually exclusive, I just don’t know if I can do both.
  11. Writing creates a lot of self doubt.
  12. Deep inside, I know that writing requires one to sit at a computer (or typewriter if you’re retro and live near a flea market) and type words, and sentences and paragraphs and chapters.  This is very solitary.  I have never been a social person, but I find the more that I write, the greater my need to interact with others.  I can’t write is I’m alone with my thoughts too much.  I need to air out those thoughts.  Just think about that King guy and The Shining……(FYI- one and only SK book I ever read because it scared the pants off me….I could not read it at night……)

I have 7 more classes, and next week is the week that my 10 page piece gets ripped apart  discussed.  I’m sure I’ll be taking about this again.

 

123 thoughts on “The Writing Class

  1. I’m about 20,000 words into my own “novel.” I’m stuck on a gnarly question and not sure how to move forward. My characters also like to talk. Endless conversation. I think that’s because I really don’t have any people to talk to during my days. Maybe if I found real friends my characters could go on with their lives.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Have you heard of the podcast ‘Writing Excuses’? It’s mostly about writing sci-fi and fantasy (because that’s what the hosts write), but they talk a lot about character, plot, editing, and whatnot, so it’s applicable to any genre.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Right?! It’s weird, when you start studying the craft of writing, how you suddenly start noticing how a book is put together. Sometimes I find this annoying (because I’m thinking about the structure of the story rather than the story itself), but it usually gives me more insight about the story and what’s going on, so it evens out.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Exactly! I had never thought about plot the way the teacher explained it. Our homework this week is to write the first sentence of each section of a work, beginning, middle, and end. It’s odd thinking about it like that. I have no idea what I’m going to do!! But it’s definitely going to challenge my mind!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad you’re enjoying the class! Pretty cool that you took that step! At least in my eyes. I’m getting hives thinking about going to school… 😉

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I’m taking a writing workshop with 9 other women and I always think my piece is the worst when we have to read them out loud. I think that feeling is universal. I’ve read a bit about the writing process and a lot of great writers talk about “flow.” I went to a talk by Wally Lamb who said he can only write until about 2 p.m. each day. When he’s stuck, he finds it helpful to go by a running stream. So interesting.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I love when I here about any artists process!! It’s so intriguing. One of my friends is about to publish his first novel so I am going to interview him for my blog. As I’m writing questions I’m finding I’m really focusing on his process. On a funny note….I just picked up my new glasses. As I was being checked out, the optician said “x helped you pick out the glasses, and I checked you out today. You will be receiving surveys so you can comment on how we performed”. Seriously!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. So happy for you that you are taking this step. I went to culinary school a few years back and met some really great people who I am still in close contact with, learned a few new techniques and really learned how to blend some unique flavors into my cooking. It wasn’t always easy or convenient but definitely worth the time! Hope you are having fun learning and writing-I will be happy to read your “novel” when its done 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I envy them too….😀….it’s hard. I will say, taking a class is very interesting. I’m learning things I’ve never considered about writing. I’m doing it through gotham writers workshop. I think they have online classes though, if you’re ever considering it

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did that one, and loved it. Now I’m doing Romance 1- I have this ridiculous yet compelling urge to write a feminist, queer, fun & sexy romance story for the over 50 woman who knows herself yet has still more to discover…!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. First of all, I meant “writing” and not “reading”. I just woke up from a nap:/ haha. Anyway, you really do learn a lot about them, and to me that is what is interesting. I like to know what they think as well. I don’t know why I skip over the details so much. Some people just get carried away. If I look down and there is a whole page with no quotes, something is wrong 😝

        Liked by 1 person

  6. hehe your habit of saying “novel” is a bit like my habit of calling every WIP a story- then people say “let’s see this story of yours then” (thinking it’ll take 5 mins to read) and my response is “umm it’s 80,000 words…” Anyway good luck with this- hope it goes well!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I’d love to join a writing class, except for the “sharing your work part”. I’ve never had hives, but I can feel myself itch at the very thought …

    Having started as a sit-down-and-bash-it-out kinda gal, I’ve discovered that it doesn’t work unless you have plenty of time to keep on doing that until it’s finished. With my life, by the time I get back to it, I’ve already forgotten where I was going. Or that may be my age … 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve learned with the sharing part is to try to go first. I feel that following up a great piece is really hard. I’m trying to set a realistic goal as to how much to write each day. I’m also trying to figure out if I should rework past chapters or just forge ahead

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I need the vote of confidence. I guess, my big obstacle now is that I’m worried that people will think my character is me….because I’m writing about a middle age woman, but the situation I’m putting her through is fictional….

      Like

  8. Your characters end up funny? I assume you mean in a humorous way. Let them. This is obviously the way you write – it comes over on your blog posts. Write naturally and see where it goes. You can always edit later, anyway. Good luck!

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Wow, I really appreciate this post, thank you! I’m also considering writing a book, or at least a collection of short vignettes and/or poetry. Your reflections, questions, comments really speak to me!!!

    Sending you much Light and blessings in every step of the way, in the learning, and in a lot of humor. 🙂 (My spiritual mentor J-R has said, If it’s funny later, it’s funny now. – One of my fav teachings!)
    Blessings, Debbie

    Liked by 3 people

  10. My characters all end up funny. I don’t know how this happens because I am not that funny in real life.
    -> I completely identify with this!!! 😉 🙂 I also identify with the self-doubt, that is quite hard! xx

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Years ago I wrote a novel. My son was in 4th grade, my mom had just died and my aging Westie had developed so many ailments. It was like childbirth. I sat at my typewriter every morning after taking my son to school, my dog lying on top of my feet so she’d know if I went anywhere, and I just typed. I’d just finished reading all of Robert James Waller’s novels. My lead had no idea what she wanted either. Can’t remember what her name was now, come to think of it. I read a few pages at a critiquing session of a writer’s club. They asked reasonable questions of my writing and the main character. I never went back. Still have the manuscript. Truly too embarrassed to look at it.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I think the second point is really important. Aren’t all our lives desire, in one way or another? As for doubt – think of it as a chronic illness, and just keep writing. Even many of the best writers suffer from doubt. Really, just keep working…..

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Ah, Stephen King- a personal favorite of mine! (‘Misery’ anyone??)

    You’re so fortunate to be able to take this class! I remember taking a creative writing class a few years back and loving my experience- I was able to take away a lot from my teacher’s lectures. In fact, that class is what reignited my passion for writing.

    And yes, it can definitely cause an overwhelming amount of self-doubt. It’s interesting you say Stephen feels that way as well, considering what a prominent figure he is in this realm. Then again, I think all writers feel this uncertainty at some level or another.

    For example, when I’m writing a story, I’ll have it all visualized in my head. What kind of world I want to create, what I want the story to focus on and what twist I want to give it. Yet when I get to my laptop, my mind runs blank.

    I end up stuck, unable to even start my story, instead going back and forth in my mind between one plot idea and another. It feels so ‘in the air’ when I write, because I never really know what I’m doing to be honest!

    But I also think writing imitates life and vice versa: similar to art, it’s a form of self expression that comes from the heart, and thus we can resonate with it.

    If you think about it, life itself is the same as writing: it can feel uncertain and ‘in the air’ sometimes, and we may often not know where we’re going with it. But in the end, we’ll always find a resting point, a place in the world.

    And I believe that’ll happen for my characters too- the story will begin to settle in at some point!

    This is a wonderful post- thanks for sharing! Looking forward to reading more from youz

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks! I’m happy with the way the book is going, and it’s funny cause it’s in a totally different direction than I thought it would take. Funny how writing does that!!ive also learned to just write, no matter what’s in my head. That took me a long time to overcome….I used to sit in front of the computer and state. Now I just put words down and figure I can change later!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good for you!! I should really start doing that 😦 I try to think out everything first (pan out my synopsis) but that usually just leads to me being stuck on a blank word document for hours on end.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, I’m just over 25m words now, which is great for me. It took me a long time to realize that most writers throw out about 40% of first draft. Once that sunk in, I got to be creative. But writing class is great cause it’s teaching me different ways to look at telling the story. Breaking down setting and place, thinking about perspective. It’s opened up my creativity a lot

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Wow that’s awesome! I can’t even get one word down before immediately hitting the backspace key. I’ll definitely consider taking classes again- it seems to help a lot!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Ah, Stephen King- a personal favorite of mine! (‘Misery’ anyone??)

    You’re so fortunate to be able to take this class! I remember taking a creative writing class a few years back and loving my experience- I was able to take away a lot from my teacher’s lectures. In fact, that class is what reignited my passion for writing.

    And yes, it can definitely cause an overwhelming amount of self-doubt. It’s interesting you say Stephen feels that way as well, considering what a prominent figure he is in this realm. Then again, I think all writers feel this uncertainty at some level or another.

    For example, when I’m writing a story, I’ll have it all visualized in my head. What kind of world I want to create, what I want the story to focus on and what twist I want to give it. Yet when I get to my laptop, my mind runs blank.

    I end up stuck, unable to even start my story, instead going back and forth in my mind between one plot idea and another. It feels so ‘in the air’ when I write, because I never really know what I’m doing to be honest!

    But I also think writing imitates life and vice versa: similar to art, it’s a form of self expression that comes from the heart, and thus we can resonate with it.

    If you think about it, life itself is the same as writing: it can feel uncertain and ‘in the air’ sometimes, and we may often not know where we’re going with it. But in the end, we’ll always find a resting point, a place in the world.

    And I believe that’ll happen for my characters too- the story will begin to settle in at some point!

    This is a wonderful post- thanks for sharing!

    Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Like

  15. I relate to this whole thing. I have started a new book – a chapter book for kids for an agent who is interested – and it was all going so well until I realized I don’t really know what my character truly wants. I’m so used to writing first person. Fiction is different. I can’t just be wacky me who always knows what wacky me wants. And so I struggled a LOT. But then when I knew, it made so much sense! The plot just began to flow. I have a lot more work to do, but knowing what my main gal wants, along with the conflict right from the outcome, has made all the difference. (It’s like marriage every day! Hee hee. Kidding. Kind of.) Good luck! I love your writing!

    Liked by 3 people

  16. A few more points. The first draft of every book sucks. Secondly, we all doubt. 3rd, best tip I have for writing something is to find a book you love and copy the structure. I don’t mean copy character or plot or any of that, but follow the bones. When does the main character come up with her conflict? When does she meet that person that changes everything? How much humor is woven in? Finding something you can relate to can really get the juices flowing. (It’s how I used to write scripts and find it helpful with this new genre I’m working in… but … but… I’m finding that I am starting to veer a bit. It’s me, after all, but a good structure to jumpstart helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I just read something today that relates to this. I’m in the middle of struggling through Dhalgren by Samuel R Delany for the second time. Here’s the quote:

    “I couldn’t help reading some of your notes. I’ve always found it amusing, writers pouring out pages and pages of analysis on why they can not write—lord knows I’ve done it myself.”

    Liked by 3 people

  18. I took a writing class online a few years back, taught by James Patterson and it really changed my mind about how I write. At some of the community colleges in my area, they offer creative writing classes and I’ve always wanted to try another but haven’t had the courage to start. Online was much different, we didn’t look at each other face to face or even have to stand in front of the class to read a prompt we were given or an assignment. I’m nervous just thinking about it, but I might try it. It seems like you’re gaining a lot through yours.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I went back to school (online university) in the fall of 2014 and am majoring in English Creative Writing. It was in 2014 that I came back to writing after a very long hiatus of nearly 18 years (life was going on with marriage and children). I am due to graduate next fall barring any terms off in the summer for a family vacation. In any case, I can relate to your noted thoughts on creating a story. I am not that organized and do like Stephen King in a way. Most of my stories start as a stream of consciousness, and then I have to go back and direct it to where I finally see where it’s going. I hope you enjoy the rest of the classes and get a lot out of it. 🙂 I’ve learned so much from my classes and loved them! Good luck!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s so great that you went back to school! Congrats! I have found that the writing class really helped me with my writing. I was able to logically look at the steps needed to write a novel. It’s funny how I’m an avid reader, yet I’ve never really looked into what goes into a story, just enjoyed the outcome. I plan on continuing next semester!

      Like

  20. I’ve always found it hard to fight the temptation of including excessive conversation in my writing. I remember reading once that the reason characters never say goodbye over the phone in movies is because in screenwriting, even daily courtesies like “goodbye” are seen as a waste of valuable time. Maybe it’s the same in a book?

    Liked by 3 people

  21. I’ve thought about taking a writing workshjop to see what I could really take away from it, I’m just so darn cheap! Lol the idea of the workshop also scares me, makes me feel like I’m in school all over again getting graded on my mediocrity, and let’s just say I do not miss those days. However seeing your experience in the class make me think twice. There are definitely some things I could gain from it. Biggest being a sense of community.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I thought the section e did on POV was life changing. I’d been writing in third, but when I switched to 1st the book really took form. Learning how to move the story forwards was also good….how to use dialogue to get from a to b. Realizing that in a novel, the character wants something…..how does the character try to get it…do the6 succeed. Critique is crucial too cause as a writer, you know if your head what you’re saying, bu5 it needs to be displayed on the page. And little things like, something needs to happen in a chapter.

        Like

      2. Yah the point of view stance is a good one.and I’ve never really thought about what the character wants in this aspect, I kind of have always felt it should just be known, so knowing this might actually help me hahaha

        Liked by 2 people

  22. You share some very important thoughts about the craft. My obstacle to writing is not so much King-esque but more lack of ideas. I have a story that I am writing and I have no idea how I am going to fit the middle with the end. Of course, I’ve changed the ending a few times along the way in hopes to find a better middle. But for a penny I would love to sit in your classes.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. “Writing is easy. Writing something someone else wants to read is hard.” Not sure I copied that entirely correctly, but it’s definitely one of my favorite quotes now.

    I’m also struggling through choosing between two endings, so if you have any words of wisdom for that, I’m all ears haha.

    Liked by 3 people

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