Are my words worth it?


#1

I poked around and didn’t see a thread like this. If I’m in the wrong, please tell me and I’ll go post in the proper place.

Anyway. I’m writing well right now, got plenty of ideas and inspiration and so the ‘worthiness’ question hasn’t weighed down on me…yet. I’m asking for the inevitable backslide into depression so that I can be prepared: how do I stop myself from asking if my words are worth it? How do y’all keep the question of worth from crippling your inner writer? Or does it even hamper your ability to write? Can you just push through and get stuff did? If so, how do you manage to do so? Please, teach me the secrets of not worrying about this nonsense, sensei.

Thank you in advance, and I hope y’all have a good day.


#2

I write because I want to. I write because I have a story in my head that I want to get out. If other people like my story then that’s a great bonus and I’m happy to share my work no matter what. If it’s bad, the feedback helps me make it better. If it’s good, I like the praise. I write. I write for me.


#3

It’s worth what you put into it.

If you’re having a blast putting it to pen then enjoy those moments. If it’s not something you put your whole self into it likely isn’t going to be as enjoyable.

As for the opinions of others… as much as I luv people enjoyinging my work that concern is secondary. If I’m not feeling it I don’t do it. Halfheartedness shows in the writing I think.


#4

I guess I’m not going to answer your question directly, but I’ll tell you the story of me instead.

Now, gather 'round, kids

:pray: Once upon a time, I have a WIP. My first attempt at writing IF/CYOA. It’s around February, IIRC. I’ve got the plot laid out well, got to finish the 1st chapter for a good deal of ~15k words, and gone hiatus.

After a period of slumber, I returned to my WIP. Know what’s on my mind that time?
"What’s this?"
I can’t stand seeing my WIP written like an edgy story by a 5y.o. kid, and so… I abandon it.
Another hiatus, if I may call it that.

But not for long, as I feel the “this story is too great to die,” thus my 2nd attempt on reviving it. Less edgy, more coherent, and more consistent, at least that was what I think.
But it turns out that this 2nd version is too wordy. So many unnecessary details. Too much verbosity.
So I abandoned it again, despite the ~20k words.

Time passes after that, and I learned more things about writing and game design. And since that “greatness” feeling is still there, I approach my laptop and begin my 3rd attempt.

And for now, things go well. No unnecessary verbosity, somewhat coherent structure, and the universe even more fleshed-out after that long time.

I’m pretty happy with my ~8k words 3rd attempt, at least for now. But I know I can’t keep abandoning-reviving all the time, so we’ll see how it goes.


TL;DR. I feel that question of “are my words worth it” twice and twice I abandon my WIP, for a good reason.
Hopefully, this 3rd attempt is the charm.


#5

Put simply: I don’t stop the question from coming.

I let it come in, poke around the place, jab at the paintings hanging on the wall because it thinks my taste in art is trash and I should invest in the way too expensive modern art painting “blank slate” I saw in a museum recently that was, quite literally, a blank canvas. (With a lengthy explanation about why it was blank posted next to it.)

I sit back, look at my phone when it’s back is turned to play a lovely little game, and pretend to nod along when I hear something that sounds like a question. Sometimes I want to throw a vase at it and sometimes I regretfully wish to listen to it and invite it in for a cup of hot tea.

Then I remember that this thing invading my personal mindspace is no more than myself. I remember that I will always inevitably be my harshest critic because I’m the one staring at the words for hours on end, I’m the one who weighs each sentence more than anyone else, I remember that I’m the one who sees the things that aren’t there because when you stare that hard at something for that long a time you start to doubt it. To question it.

I remind myself that this is the first draft. That mistakes are fine and well because rewrites are a thing people do. I also remind myself that the things I think are horrible might not be so bad. Because, once more, I will always be my harshest critic.

It’s hard, and it gets harder when I’m tired or down or sometimes for random, unintelligible reasons, but in the end what pushes me towards it is the fact that I love to write. And who cares if its messy or sloppy or weird the first time around? It’s still my lovely little mess, and nobody else is gonna write what I have in mind.

For that, it’s worth it. More than you might think at times.


#6

You are asking the quintessential question most, if not all, writers inevitably go through.

Part of the way we deal with the “is it good enough” is unique to every writer.
It’s a part of a writer’s process.

Another way is to look at your work through the lens of established conventions such as point of view, dramatic question, emotional content/context, pacing, etc; basically, elements of storytelling.

The rudimentary question of “what makes a story a good story” is one that every writer tries to answer in the form of a “thesis” known as a novel (or short story, play, etc.)

Discovering not just what makes a good story, but how to tell one, is the very craft of writing.

So, to simplify, how do you stop yourself from asking if your words are good enough?
Simply understand that you are refining a craft; an art form that can take a lifetime to master.
It’s a skill that gets better with practice and time.

If you’ve given it your best, then it’s good enough for right now.


#7

I suspect every author has times when they feel that way. Even Stephen King thought about abandoning his first novel - his wife supposedly dug the manuscript out of the trash and made him finish it.

There’s an old saying: perfect is the enemy of good. And it’s always going to be easier to give up and start off with something new.

To my mind, the exam question is whether you’re enjoying writing it. If so, then it’s definitely worthwhile.

It’s also worth mentioning that Choice of Games has a very supportive forum community. If people are enjoying your work then they generally aren’t shy when it comes to letting you know about it, whether that’s through likes or comments. And that can be really encouraging for a new author. I certainly wouldn’t have got anywhere near this far with my WIP without it. Similarly, some of the best authors here are willing to engage with their audience and use their feedback to strengthen their writing.


#8

Honestly, it’s probably close to impossible to stop thinking things like that. What’s better is to not try to stop it and instead, when those thoughts start coming around, to just slap it back into the hole it crawled out of with “I made this thing and it made me feel something (happiness, pride, relief, anything) and that in itself makes it important enough”. In general, it’s good to feel pride in your work and it’s a good idea to practice feeling it even when you’re not feeling all that great about it. It’s kind of like “fake it 'til you make it” in a way, I guess

You’re always going to be your own worst critic and you’ll see a million tiny errors because the end product doesn’t match what was in your head, but when other people see it, they don’t know what you imagined, they just see what you made out of nothing. Maybe some people will like it, maybe some won’t, but that’s on them, not you

Of course, knowing that there’s someone else out there who enjoys what you just put out also helps. If you have friends supporting you and what you’re working on, that’s great. Not too long ago, I kind of relapsed into a pretty bad place and I was honestly embarrassed to let any of my friends see anything I made because I felt like I was behind so many of them (most of them are also art students) Starting to show my stuff to my friends again and posting more work online and seeing positive feedback on it had honestly done wonders to my self confidence

Also, there’s probably going to be times where you just can’t write, or if you can, you absolutely hate every word of it. When that happens, it’s okay to take a break from it and do something else until you feel like you can get back into it again. Burnout happens to everyone and it’s frustrating but needing to take a step back every once in a while isn’t a thing to be ashamed of

Kiki’s Delivery Service was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid but I hadn’t watched it in years since I lost the VHS. I borrowed the DVD from a friend recently and watching it again as an adult and as an artist gave me a whole new perspective on it and I feel like it really gave me the boost I needed to get out of my slump. If you’ve seen it before, I think it would be good for you to watch it again, if not now then when you aren’t feeling so great about your writing. If you haven’t seen it before, (excuse my horrible summary skills) it’s about a girl who leaves home to practice her craft (witchcraft specifically) until things happen and she finds herself not able to do it anymore, then when she least expects it, she can do it again just as well as she could before

Maybe I’m a little biased since it’s been my favorite movie since I was five and I’ve always been fascinated by magic-type stuff and the mentor-ish type character has been kind of a role model hanging out in the back of my memory ever since the first time I saw the movie, but I feel like its message is something that all artists should hear at least once. Plus, if nothing else, it’s a nice feel-good movie to watch when you don’t feel like doing much of anything


#9

Lots of good advice and thoughts/feelings I can also relate to on here. As was pointed out already, this forum is great for that, so please use it as a resource as often as you need.

For me (and this is very specific to Choicescript writing), if the creative process slows down and gets really difficult or whatever is going on in my life to the point that I feel I helplessly ineloquent or am frustrated by my own results, then I try to use that time to step back from the story aspects and focus more on the coding. It gives me something constructive to do while the waves of inadequacy are crashing around, but keeps that precious momentum going. And though this may not work for everyone (like those who are inclined to self compare rather than appreciate), I also like to revisit the books and movies that inspire me. It can sometimes jumpstart my love of fiction that helps me power though any negative doubts.

Hope you can find the methods that work for you, too! Good luck!


#10

I wrote my first game entirely in secret and as a lurker to the forums. :slight_smile:

I didn’t show anyone Life of a Wizard. I ran the beta through CoG, so I could stay anonymous. In the end, people enjoyed it and I got a huge boost of self-confidence to keep writing. But I wasn’t a writer before that, although I have played some Play-By-Post role-playing games. I’m a math guy, so becoming an artsy-creative type was especially hard for me. :slight_smile:

Even better though, and EVERY writer will agree with this, you can only become better through pratice. So, get that first one finished, and your second will be better, and so on. It sure helps if you enjoy what you’re doing, since pushing through something that you hate would be next to impossible. :slight_smile:


#11

I suggest writing for friends first, especially in the context of tabletop RPGs. They will be relatively nice, help you figure out what could be improved, but ultimately quell your inner critic as you can tell they are basically having a good time. Eventually you’ll feel like you’re ready for the big time of putting your stuff in front of strangers.

This remains useful - I did a lot of alpha testing for Choice of Robots and am doing it again with Choice of Magics, where I sit beside them as they experience the game. The feedback is gentle and their enjoyment is encouraging.


#12

when you right stuff, it can act as a personal vent that can (sometimes) be somewhat more understanding than friends (in my view at least)


#13

I appreciate all the answers y’all have thrown my way. I’m glad for the community of this place, that I can expect wonderful answers to all my questions.

Thank you all, again. I’ll come back to this thread whenever I need a writerly pick me up~