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Edit: I'm confused what I need to ask so this question can be taken off hold.

  • I'm looking for help on writing descriptive language. (it no longer flows freely in my mind like it did in the past.)

  • Adding a sense of humor. I'm told that my newer stuff is lacking in that and not as fun to read as the old stuff.


I had a long post of what led me to this point but I guess it can be summed up to I was able to think and write more coherently in high school than I can now.

I'm not fully sure how that happened. I guess anxiety and depression got the better of me after I became an adult and I can't write as well as I did. I am hoping this is a problem that can be resolved.

Based on feedback I got from my friends and family:

  • I need to regain the ability to use descriptive language. I can occasionally describe a scene and use descriptive language. In those paragraphs where I did that, I get favorable responses, "Now you need to do more of that." (back then it flowed naturally. This time I have to really work to get the description.)

  • I need to regain a sense of humor. The themes I find now as boring and trite, over the top and slapstick is what seems my readers like about my older work. The problem I have is getting back into that mindset. It feels forced vs. it being natural.

Now I am trying to get back into writing description and add a sense of humor without it feeling forced or driving me to lose interest.

(P.S.) I want to tag this subject "writing after hiatus" or "lost writing skills" but I am not allowed to tag with under 150 rep points. If someone would like to add those tags, that would be great.

closed as unclear what you're asking by Mark Baker Nov 10 '17 at 22:45

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • this still feels a little... opinion based but I will do my best to answer objectively. – ggiaquin16 Nov 10 '17 at 22:11
  • Sorry for the novel >< I just feel like I can relate to you a bunch so I hope you find what I have to say useful! – ggiaquin16 Nov 10 '17 at 22:33
  • Please do not react to the closure of a question by deleting it and asking the same question again. Take our tour writers.stackexchange.com/tour to see how things work around here. If you want to discuss something writing related that does not fit our Q/A format, there is always chat. writers.stackexchange.com/tour – Mark Baker Nov 10 '17 at 23:45
  • I thought I did reword the question more clearly. I'm confused. – BugFolk Nov 10 '17 at 23:48
  • It says I can't participate in the chat yet, when I try to move the comments over. – BugFolk Nov 10 '17 at 23:58
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I need to regain the ability to use descriptive language. I can occasionally describe a scene and use descriptive language. In those paragraphs where I did that, I get favorable responses, "Now you need to do more of that." (back then it flowed naturally. This time I have to really work to get the description.)

This is because you are trying too hard to be who you used to be. The moments where people say YES THAT'S IT! are the times you get into a groove and you stop thinking, you are just writing. Everyone changes. There are many things I wish I can be from my high school days, but we cannot go back to who we were. You may actually realize that you cannot write comedy anymore in general because your view on life has changed and that is perfectly okay.

I had a friend who used to be able to take any song we threw at him and make some improv up about someone sitting at our lunch table. He can no longer do this, at least not on the fly like he used to.

I need to regain a sense of humor. The themes I find now as boring and trite, over the top and slapstick is what seems my readers like about my older work. The problem I have is getting back into that mindset. It feels forced vs. it being natural.

This is probably due to your depression. I, like many here, have suffered from this. One of the worst things about depression is that even life's greatest pleasures become mundane. Finding something you are passionate about while depressed is hard, especially when you want to pick up an old interest. I personally would love to go back to my old hobbies... Sports and piano specifically, but no matter how many times I sit at the keys, the music doesn't come. I can feel the music still and the emotions are there, but the music won't play. I found that while I do want to learn to play piano again, I don't have the drive to play like I once did and that is okay.

You will find that as we age, as we get older, things that interested us before, do not anymore. We grow different tastes as we experience life. If you asked the high school me if they would attempt to write a book in 10 years, they would laugh and say ya right, I will be a civil engineer who is married and playing in adult league sports.

I am not saying that you should quit trying to write, on the contrary, I encourage you to continue. I actually started writing because my therapist said it could be therapeutic for me. Is my writing darker or maybe more serious? Probably because I am putting my emotions and struggles into the book to let go of the anger pent up inside.

The first step to making progress is recognizing where you currently are, not where you were or where you want to be. The cliche advice is to just write. Write everything and anything even on days you don't feel like writing. This has merit for sure. You want to stop trying to think and control the words and let it flow.

Like playing the piano, if you force the keys, it will sound forced. If you try to control the song, it will not feel right. However, if you just close your mind, and let your emotions play the piece, you will be amazed at how little it takes to play something so simple but yet so amazing.

Some of the best piano pieces and considered classics are also some of the most simple pieces you will hear, lacking many intricacies that you think would define a professional. This too works in writing. It's not about using the big words, the fancy words, the complex sentences. Good writers use simple words and why they say the lower the reading grade level, the better off you are.

So keep practicing, don't think just write. Feel the story. Write side stories, and listen to current comedy. What did you like? what did you not like? was it their delivery of an old joke? Or was it that they wrote a skit about a life event that you can relate to and that made it even funnier? Once you recognize WHY you find jokes funny, you can use that to influence your own jokes.

Sorry for writing you a novel, I hope you and others will take the time to read it. I understand completely where you come from all too well and the best advice I can give is to just not give up if it is something you truly want. Just don't try too hard as that will end up causing you to be discouraged when you feel it does not come out well.

PS Try to read over the parts that people say are great. Ask why do they say it's great! See what makes those parts stand out from the rest. Remember what you were thinking and feeling at those times you were writing those parts. Maybe find someone who won't critize your work initially but rather compliment to boost your confidence. I know for me that helped when later on I sought real critizism. But the initial confidence booster gave me the ability to write more relaxed and more fluid.

  • Thank you for taking the time to write! My friend asked why are you so into writing this now? I gave my reasons, that I finally feel I got the series plotted out and the theme is relevant to our culture (the theme has evolved into questioning the trend towards nationalism "Our colony first" vs the need to see other cultures and team with them to fight bigger issues.) The premise of the series shifted. – BugFolk Nov 10 '17 at 22:42
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    Though the new series borrows characters from my old works, it is in fact a different story. But because it is different, it explores areas I'm not as experienced in. I read over the old 2003 draft dealing with my soldier characters. Maybe it worked because it was so bad, it was funny and flowed with the rest of the story that was just as extreme. Going towards a more realistic theme, now the lack of experience shows for what it is. – BugFolk Nov 10 '17 at 22:56
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    I do a bit of both. I have key plot points planned out, but the a to b to c, is where I discover stuff as I write it. I know the key plots and subplots, but as I draft them out my characters do pull surprises on me. I learn as I write, but I notice that times I think I have everything, I lost interest, and then the only way I can break out of it is to purposefully change something to upset the plot when I am actually writing the story. I did that with a rescue type plot. Worked really well. Gained a new character and colony out of it too. – BugFolk Nov 10 '17 at 23:10
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    Considering the story I have is only 27,000 words into it and it is near done, I have room I can work in description, perhaps add scenes. The plot of this book developed as I wrote it. I was thinking of "how my 5 year old character gets his father figure" as the main plot (and introduce the main protagonists of the series) but surprise it became a story about overcoming bullies. I went back in and did more with the classroom bully character. I can do more with them yet. – BugFolk Nov 10 '17 at 23:13
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    The book I am working on now has splintered into two plots: the 5 year old character - learn to stand up to bullies. The soldier character - to overcome his regrets over the last battle, set his mindset from being cold and reckless/ruthless to a desire for redemption. The soldier's plot line extends beyond the first book. We also find out the 5 year old is on that same path, whether he knows it or not. (fantasy elements). – BugFolk Nov 10 '17 at 23:15

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