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Adolencent writers: how to move on from the waste basket phase.

Well, Hello, I'm new here and not entirely sure how to go about this.

As the title implies, I'm a 17 year old would-like-to-be-able-to-be writer and I have a question:

How do you move on from the phase where you start three projects at the same time and finish none of them or have so many ideas at the same time all of them amount to nothing at all?
What I'm trying to find out is... is there a way? Or do you wait patiently for your personal motivator to come along, for some kind of big eureka moment in which you can uniform your thoughts and form coherent ideas that end up being something... well, less than 10 percent of the time would be good, in my case. It's a step up from starting and never finishing things.

Is it a state of mind issue, are there factors in the life of an adolescent that just work against productivity or... should you just be patient and wait for the time things align themselves naturally?
I've been wondering about this ever since I caught sight of all the unfinished documents I have on my computer and this seemed like the place to ask because there are a lot of experienced and productive writers here. Some people don't take young writers seriously and I recognize that there are a lot of kids out there who think anyone could be a poet if only it's depressing enough, anyone could be a writer when you can describe 'characters doing stuff'. But the grand masters of old have once been young, so have you, so I think this question still stands.

If you have a view on this, I'd like to hear it,


  • Well you're exactly like me. Similar age, too. What kind of projects are you working on? Novels? If so, I would start with something smaller, like flash fiction or short stories.

    It also helps to identify what kind of writer you are, horror, romance, etc etc. For me, I'm a horror writer, and there are quite a few of us on here.

    Personal things can get in the way, like, school, for me. I just find that when the flow isn't with me, I do something else and wait for it to come back. I don't like it, but you need to do it.

    Although, when I do get going, I get quite a lot of stuff done. Within a year, I have been published in an online e-zine seven times, I'm due to be published in two anthologies, and I'm working on a novel.

    I'm 16.

    You need to have time, focus and discipline, and motivation. If you wait a few days, the One Word Challenge (The sticky thread on the board) will be open again, and it'll be a great exercise to get you writing. It helps me.

    Oh, and welcome to TB.

    If you want to take a look at my blog (Or one of them) it's here: http://theworksofpixiejking.blogspot.com

    Sometimes, you just have to wait. All part of the apprenticeship.
  • Hey Dwillinger, welcome to TB.

    I've been writing for well over 15 years now (and I'm only 25!) and I still haven’t moved on from that "ooh a new idea, let me just pencil it in my...ooh new idea, now where is that...ooh new idea" phase. I hope I never do :D

    There's nothing wrong with expressing/compiling a variety of ideas, no matter what you're working on. All you have to do is be careful not to let each new idea take the place of the last one, or you'll never get anything finished. In my mind, there is usually a difference between an idea and an idea for a book. The little ideas may be a piece of dialogue, a particular scene or opening or even the beginnings of a character. I make sure I write each 'flash' down and sometimes even expand on a few or manage to work them into my current WIP. The key is to come up with an idea so good that you can focus solely on that premise and be quite happy to put these other 'flashes' to the side for now.

    Age has nothing to do with the quality of writing (wait till you read Pixie's stuff, she's young but a very talented writer), although it is true that 'older' (carefully phrased) members may know more (not necessarily true though), this doesn’t mean they are better writers it just means they have had more time to learn certain things.

    Take it as a good sign that you have the desire to work on several items at once. No matter what these ideas or flashes are, they are all chances to improve your dialogue, setting, pacing, character building skills and much more. Your desire to write just has to be focussed on manageable projects.

    Good luck with your writing!
  • All the ideas can be jotted down for a later date. Ever thought about starting with a short story, maybe even flash fiction. Just to get something done and dusted. Something finished in front of you. Then move on from there, do some more short stories and learn the discipline to get things done to the point where you type 'The End'

    There's plenty of places online and antho's once you've finished that short story, perhaps getting something small published might spur you on for the bigger things. As for taking younger writers seriously, people would be foolish if they do. Take TB's Pixie, she's just turned 16 and has had a few things published.
  • welcome to TB, and thanks for coming on here with a question that will generate a lot of discussion! That's what we like, getting our teeth into a good writing discussion.

    It's very easy to be distracted by other work other thoughts. Right now, at the bottom of my screen, is one of my books which I am scanning into the computer, the original file having gone missing, and the publishers want to put it out again. Natch. I also have a (paid for) editing job sitting there. I also have a reading to do (I am a medium) and last but not least, I began a new book this week for a spirit author and he is coming by any time now to carry on. Somewhere in that lot I need to sort my priorities.

    This is what you need to do. Write down every flash of inspiration but concentrate on what is started, by looking at them and seeing which one excites you the most, and finish it. Then, with that sense of achievement in front of the mind, go look at the rest. Age is immaterial. We are all ages here and we all have the same writing problems. Good luck!
  • Hi, Dwillinger. Welcome to Talkback. Don't worry - I start things and abandon them, and I haven't been 17 for a while. Sometimes I come back to them and find there's an ending. July's One Word Challenge is due to start soon. Why not have a go at that? It's only 200 words. June's Challenge is still at the top of the discussion board if you're not sure what I'm talking about.
  • It might have something to do with my intention span being as pitiful as it is... I have written flash-fiction before. The last story I did was 4800-something words long, but that took me two months to write and the person who had given me the prompt to start with (purple socks... it's quite a feat to get as much out of something like that as I did. This is the story, in case you're curious: http://onewaypencil.deviantart.com/#/d2qk5sk it's... I still don't know what to think of it, but I finished it!)

    I can never focus to begin with, I don't know what it is... I've noticed myself getting better lately though.
  • Most of it is determination, you want to write, you will write. Simple as that. If you think you're getting better at focusing, keep right on trying. We'll have the new word for July in the One Word Challenge any time soon, you can manage 200 words for sure!
  • Hello, welcome to Talkback.
    As said write all these ideas down for later. Pick one thing you want to finish and set a personal deadline-well try to:)- and do what you can when you are writing.
    Do you like to read particular genres?
    You will not be alone here, there is St Force and Pixie around your age, and anyone who writes is welcome.
  • Welcome!
  • Hello, good evening and welcome.
    Write it all down. every idea or flash or sentence you like the sound of. (Tut, such syntax). One day something will stick with you even though you might want it to go away - follow that one.
    Never throw anything away.
    Good luck.
  • Welcome to Talkback!!!! :D
  • I don't think the dilemma of having too many ideas at once ever goes away - I think it is a good thing. It helps to work on a few projects at once: writing one, editing another, putting down some draft ideas for something else. Then you don't feel so much as though you are missing out on the one thing you aren't working on. I remember when I actually managed to finish writing a book - that was a big step as everything else I'd done was left unfinished. When I realised I could do it, there was no stopping me, so keep with the multiple ideas but make sure you get to the end of at least some of them, otherwise that's all they are: ideas!

    I wouldn't wait for a state of mind or a eureka moment either. Just write and see what comes out!
  • Note down all your ideas and file them away in an ideas file. Select one idea. Apply bum to seat and brain to idea. See what happens.
  • Oh, to be seventeen and full of ideas! Or has somebody said that already? :)
  • I'd just like to be full of ideas...;)
  • I'd like to have known then what I know now. But not to have to go through every migraine again.

    Sorry, Dwillinger, we're digressing. A not unusual occurrence. Just yell at us if we do it too much.

    Have I any more thoughts on the relevant subject? Well, don't be put off by anything or anyone. Like most things, writing needs practice. And, at seventeen, you simply haven't experienced some things. On the other hand, you've got a fresh eye. (Hmm. Hand and eye?) Some people write bestsellers in their twenties. Others have to wait until their seventies. On which cheerful note I'll shut up. For a while.
  • I remember being seventeen, vividly, and how ideas used to hurt in my head. Maybe if I'd written them all down then, instead of dwelling on them, that wouldn't have been the case. So I say, write them all down, if only for your sanity's sake. :)

    Welcome Dwilinger, btw.
  • LizLiz
    edited July 2010
    Haven't read all the above replies so apologies if this repeats, but I would say, brilliant. You have ideas.

    Virtually anyone can learn to write, some have talent already there, some are geniuses and what they write first off is a work of magnitude, some need to learn their craft, but it can be learned.

    What cannot is the generation of ideas, you either have lots of them, or you don't.

    I did read Pixie's comment and I think she is quite right re doing something small... take one idea, and make it into flash fiction, it's manageable, you won't get bored, you can send it somewhere straight away and find even get feedback quickly. Have you seen the 6 sentences thing?

    There's nothing like achieving something for spurring you on to do it again, trying harder, for longer.

    Good luck!

    I am old by the way.
  • The thing is with ideas is that's all they are. We all have them all the time and quite often have to wrangle them so they behave. Buy notebooks and index cards or whatever tools you need to capture those ideas. Have you tried mind mapping?

    Anyway as I said an idea will always just be that unless you sit down and put in the graft of actually developing it into a piece.Good luck and welcome.
  • Hi and welcome, Dwillinger. Stick around and you'll find lots of inspiration on this forum - just look at all the good advice you've already been given! :)
  • edited July 2010
    [quote= Dwillinger]How do you move on from the phase where you start three projects at the same time and finish none of them or have so many ideas at the same time all of them amount to nothing at all?[/quote] You finish stuff and make sure they do amount to something! As you learn more about writing and about the best way for you personally to write this'll get easier.

    Don't worry about have three projects on the go at once - that's pretty normal. So is having lots of different ideas and finding the new ones more appealing than the old. These things are no problem as long as you can discipline yourself to finish some of them.
  • Hello and welcome. There is already a lot of good advice here, so I won't add to it. Just keep writing. You will get there in the end and you will certainly find an awful lot of help and support on these pages.
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