Writing Tips

Writing Junk

Writing JunkThis month I am doing Camp Nanowrimo. It is a ton of fun, but it also involved writing around 1700 words a day (for me) to reach a goal of 50,000 words at the end of the month. And yes, I know that 31 x 1700 does not equal 50,000– I am taking into account several days which I am missing.

Naturally, this results in writing which just plain sucks (take this post for example!) Some of the paragraphs I write make me shudder. Ugh. Some of the scenes I am writing are cringe worthy. Ugh. Some of the sentences which I type out should never see the light of day. Ugh. And don’t even talk to me about plot.

I’m a perfectionist. I like good writing. Not stuff which sounds like a three year old writing bad romance. I love beautiful writing like Mary Shelley’s and intelligent and relatable writing like C. S. Lewis’. Also it probably isn’t helping that I have been micro-editing a novel for over a year and have not written a first draft in over three years. The struggle is real.

 

I also love how my writing looks when I spend hours perfect each sentence. I get beautiful master pieces like this:

Like black feathers from a fallen eagle which once soared as king of the skies, the ashes floated down on the breeze, scattered across the green field which stretched out below. As the soft flakes were gently taken from my open hands, I stood on top of the Golden Fort’s outer wall, far above the Coralean fields which were flourishing under spring’s reign. Covered in thick, soft, and short grass and flowers which danced in the breeze, the lush hills were now tainted with the black of ash.

But right now, I am writing junk like this:

“This is a sword!” Amets beamed as he waved about a short gladius in front of Raewas’ face. For once, Raewas remained silent; his eyes were blank, and his face was sweaty. Of the whole group, Amets was the only one enjoying himself; the rest of us were leaning against the wall and wishing that we could lie down and rest.

Or this:

Moistening my lips, I took a deep breath, refastened my real sword on my hip, and began to jog back inside the fort. As I drew near the stone walls, I heard the noise of stones scattering under Raewas’ footsteps. Once I entered under the shadowy arch which marked the entrance to the wandering hallways, I paused, catching my breath again. No doubt Perehdur would be in the infirmity, but where was that? The castle at Flame Lake and Aralt’s castle in Gadolae’ both had the infirmity near the center of the fort and west of the throne room. Of course, the Golden Fort is different since they have the Inner Courts at the very center. Perhaps, I’ll head to the western wing of the middle circle of buildings.

Ugh. Don’t even talk to me. I can barely read that– and I have already fixed all of the misspellings in the later paragraphs. All I want to do is delete my entire document.

How can this rotten writing turn into anything good? Am I accomplishing anything at all?

The unfortunate reality is that writing fast and writing crap (pardon my crudeness) is useful and good. How can you edit anything if you don’t have a first draft?

Sure, your first draft is full of grammatical errors– some sentences won’t even be recognizable. You will read over painful descriptions and terrible dialogue. As you write it, you will think it is horrendous, and when you read back over it later, you will wince and know that it is even worse than you first thought.

But if you wait, if you take your time, if you procrastinate and edit your old work once again, then you will never make progress. Sure it is painful and required discipline, but we writers know plenty of pain and discipline.

As writing, we kill our favorite characters. We purposely break our favorite characters. We separate best friends, families, and lovers in our stories. We have the strength and discipline. We can do this, too.

So toughen up and write that terrible first draft, and don’t look back. Just don’t read what you wrote until you are finished with your whole first draft. Don’t look back.

So are you writing junk, right now? Care to share the worst bits that you have written 😛 Or are you one of the lucky ones who is in the midst of editing?

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12 thoughts on “Writing Junk”

  1. Ohhh yes I am writing junk. *throws self over manuscript to hide it from view* There are paragraphs in which the style is all elaborate and educated like Dickens and the next paragraph seems like its written by a seven-year-old writing for the first time. But as you said, it’s probably the best for me. xP
    Here’s a description snippet which shows that I need to work on being less wordy:
    “However upon arriving at his destination, he discovered that his last minute preparations had not been entirely necessary, for Mariana Richardson lay sprawled on her chair with her feet on her desk when he entered. Her red hair wasn’t unlike the style one’s hair normally is when waking up in the morning, and obviously she had not had the urge to iron her pants this morning.
    When Josh entered her office, she swung her legs off her papers and attempted to look more socially acceptable, although there was no apparent embarrassment about her unseemly state of the previous moment. She received Josh’s presence with a raise of eyebrows and shook hands with him.”

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    1. I know exactly how you feel! And the worst part for me is not going back and fixing everything!
      Ha! Yes, that excerpt should probably be less wordy, but it definitely has potential! In my first draft, I use double negatives a lot (probably since some of my favorite writers use them, too), but then during editing, I have to take them out (because I don’t use them in a good way 😛 ) Good luck with your junk!

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      1. Oh yes — there are times when I procrastinate by editing, and times when I just don’t care how bad it is. =P Mmhm, I’ll have to do a lot of research on how to do editing efficiently enough. Thank you, and the same to you!

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  2. Haha, I’d like to think I’m not writing junk… but I’m pretty sure I am. Reason #208 why I try not to read my own writing while I’m writing. XD But I’m proud of myself. I’ve been writing at least a sentence every day. After a several month hiatus, that makes me proud. 😀

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  3. I feel ya… I’ve been writing junk for nearly two years now, and because of my perfectionism (not to mention my busy work/life schedule), I’m still not done with the first draft -___- Some of the snippets I’ve written, I feel, are genius, especially when I didn’t put too much thought into them, but I’m pretty sure most of it is junk that needs serious editing. I often just stare at a blank space and overthink how I’m going to present it before I actually start writing, and then whatever I do write sounds like crap to me, and I either change it over and over, or just power through. I’m trying to do more of the latter, and it’s easier on some days than others. On the not-so-easy days, I usually redirect my thoughts by writing more world-building notes, so at least I’m still working on my story in some other way. Glad to know I’m not the only one, though.

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    1. It took me 6 years to actually finish a single novel. Part of that wasn’t my fault (naturally, a 9 year old’s story needed to be transformed as I matured), but I know how hard it is to finish. In fact, one of my favorite authors took 13 years to write his first novel (yikes!) Outlines really help me to write as does Nanowrimo and writer’s groups.
      Isn’t it weird how some of our thoughtless writing turns out the best? Good luck with finishing your first draft! You can do it, and make a deal with yourself that you won’t read over any of your old work until you finish. That always helps me, though I hate doing it.

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  4. Oh, thank you so much for this post. I too am participating in Camp NaNo, and it’s so depressing. I feel like I can literally see the plot holes staring out of my novel at me, and I literally cringe when I write certain paragraphs. Thanks so much for reminding us that it’s good to simply write, get it out there, and that we can rewrite later. It’s good to remember, too, that all writers have awful first drafts. It’s just part of the process. Here’s just one example of an awful, juvenile-sounding paragraph:

    “Gone was the stiffness between them, the awkwardness, the tension. Mada had an inkling that it wouldn’t be permanent, this newfound camaraderie, but she also suspected that things would get better, that their friendship would never dissolve, as she’d feared only days earlier.”

    Ugh. But thank you for this encouraging post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is no problem 😉 I had just finished my word count yesterday and was bemoaning my terrible writing when I realized that I needed to post something. So I just wrote about what was at the forefront of my mind. I can’t wait to read this post later and realize that it is junk, too!
      Oh my goodness, I just had to write a scene where two characters were really awkward around each other, and I couldn’t decide what was more awkward: the characters’ tension, my writing, or the spelling of awkward. (Seriously, isn’t it ironic that awkward is spelled so strangely?)

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  5. Great post! Every writer has that problem at one time or another. 😉 I don’t have it as much while I’m writing. Pretty much, the thing I wrote last is always heaven inspired and perfect in my eyes and I look over it again and again grinning like “I wrote that!”
    And then after I write something else, the hearts have cleared from my eyes enough that I can see my typos and go back to edit. 😛
    If it’s helpful, I don’t think those examples of “horrible writing” are all that horrible. They don’t need a lot of work, just a few reworkings of some of the sentences. Though the example of good writing…. Wow. Took my breath away. 😀

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  6. I’m doing Camp Nano this month too and I’m in exactly the same place. You’re brave to post some of your rough draught. I won’t even let my siblings look at mine over my shoulder. 😛 (And in case it makes you feel better, mine’s way worse than yours.) However, I am getting the story down on paper and that’s important. Also I look forward to editing when the month is over. Yay!

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