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I feel like the biggest idiot asking this..but I want to take up writing for fun. I have ideas for fanfictions and other things, but I get an overwhelming desire to have it be perfect.

This desire for perfectionism is something I struggle with, so whenever I start to have an idea I write a little and then I give up because I don't know enough about writing, formatting, and punctuation to really convey what I mean on paper. It makes me feel terrible. I made an account on Archive Of Our Own already and I want to submit some ideas for fanfics I have but I've never written a fic before, so it's barren.

I do want to write, but I don't know where to get help from. Can some of you Lains help?


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Hey lain! Here are some pick-me-up's to get you started.






My tip to you is read read read all kinds of books: gain a sharp understanding of the context and the connotation, write with purpose (both your sentences and your word choice) as if your final draft was going to be laid into stone tablets.
If you would like some help further; or maybe a proofreader: contact me via IRC under Lain/Lainposter/Lainfriend. Good luck writing lain, I love you! :)


First things first, be sure to NOT focus on perfection especially if you are a new writer. You will drive yourself nuts trying to hone your craft from the very start, and it will turn you off. Every writer knows that trial and error of writing drafts and rigorous editing is how your work will end up in its best form, and even then, it's not going to be perfect, so don't expect it to be. I can't count how many times I have destroyed copies of my own work cuz I hated them that bad, but then went on and continued writing another draft. It's one of the hardest, but most important parts of being a writer - the persistence of your work and how practice is THE ultimate reward for it.

The above paragraph is really the only thing I consider "universal" in writing. Anything and everything can be honed in a piece of work - it just depends how you pull it off. 99.9% of advice is highly subjective in that it will work for one writer, but will be almost unusable for another. That's why writing, in my experience, tends to be a loner's game for the most part - but that does give you more time to focus on your own art and perfect (as best as possible) the craft.

Like the other poster said, reading other books will prove to be your absolute best friend. Observe what writers you find to be "better" than yourself, or writers you just like a lot, and make observations based on their works. What do you enjoy about them? What would you like to take inspiration from? This is going to be a LOT of books, too - don't just read one author and think you'll be done right there. It's a long, arduous process - every facet of writing is - and it will take time to find something that truly clicks.

My third piece of advice, which comes after - when you feel like you have truly gotten the basics down, don't try to avoid experimenting with your writing. Many modern writers fall into the unfortunate trap of dumbing down their own work instead of pushing the envelope with it. Not all tropes are bad, even ones that are commonly cited as bad - I believe anything can be properly utilized in a piece of work if the writer knows what they are doing. But using simple prose and the like is fine too - like I said, start small. Do NOT push yourself out of your comfort zone right away - but when you feel like you have enough experience to do so, I feel that is the necessary next step to keep your writing fresh.

This is just my own advice, and like I said, it may work for someone else or not at all for you - but I recommend giving it a try to see how it works for you. Every writing process of every writer is different. Good luck!


Thank you so much for all the warm support and advice, Lains! I'm going to try and flesh out these ideas in my head as I look for more advice and reading material online.


Hello! It's delightful to hear that you're considering taking up writing for fun. It's a relaxing experience, once you get into the depths of it, and even when it's not, it's at least a decent way to vent.

Some advice, moving forward. Writing, I've been told, is about rewriting. The first draft of a work, be it fanfiction or otherwise, is often called a "vomit draft". It's a place to get ideas out so that in a second draft the story can begin to come together. If you're less inclined to commit to a full draft of a story to call your "vomit draft", you can alternatively start with an outline. It can be a series of bullet points and nothing more, but planning out your overarching story, character growth, themes, etc. is all pretty helpful in the long run.

Other folks have mentioned this next tip already, but I'll throw my weight behind it, too: read. Read widely. Read fanfiction, read novels. This reading will allow you to find authors whose styles you enjoy and want to emulate. Art, according to many, is stealing, and while you don't want to plagiarize someone else's hard work, you can at least look to those who came before you as examples. Reading widely will also guide your use of punctuation.

Thirdly, choose in advance the word count you think a story should reach. When writing fanfiction for the first time, it's good to shoot for a story that's a thousand words long - that's two pages in a Word doc. It doesn't seem like a lot, but setting a word count in your head allows you to have a goal and helps prevent tangents within a work. If you go over your pre-determined word count, that's fine. Just remember to go back in and revise/edit once your first draft is complete.

Finally: when you're looking to publish work online, you're throwing your lot in with writers of all sorts. Some of the writing online is b-e-autiful. Others...well, I'm assuming you've heard of the infamous "My Immortal". Fanfiction is an excellent place to learn how to grow your craft. There are other writers in the vast void of AO3 who'll be on the same level as you, just learning the ropes and celebrating their favorite characters/most interesting plot lines. If you can post that first piece, no matter how short or how awkward it makes you feel, you'll be taking the first step in the right direction.

Good luck moving forward, my friend. The best writing comes with time, and I imagine that if you continue to pursue this that you'll only get better.


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Not OP but as a hobbiest-beginner writer I appreciate the writeup!


I sometimes feel like I want to try and write a short story, but I'm pretty much not very creative. For now I plan on leaving it to the pros...


How do you deal with not being able to even start writing anything? Imagine you have the idea, and have thought about a story you saw in your mind for a long time, or no, it could be even something you just thought of, but no matter how interesting you find it to be, you can never bring yourself to putting any effort into writing anything. You leave a word processor on your spare laptop on and for several weeks its been blank. What do you do? Do you think that you secretly don't want to write and aren't meant to do it? Is it lack of motivation from depression? I've had this problem for so long.


OP you sound a lot like me, especially the self-doubt. The one piece of advice people always gave though I'm a hypocrite for passing it on since I can't do it myself, is to not dwell on syntax, punctuation or anything else during first draft. Just get it onto the page/screen and hammer out the flaws at a later time. This is why it didn't work in my case;

My problem always was, I could only write anecdotally. It was an arduous process too but people always liked the results. When it came to fiction though, I had settings, characters, situations, I even studied architecture and engineering as it pertained to certain situations (not even for science fiction in this case). When it came time to write it though I suddenly felt like I was mired in molasses. The "just get it out" system resulted in childish writing that I couldn't bare to read. Maybe some people (me) ought to stick to non-fiction.


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Have you ever tried poetry?
Explicitly working on both style and substance suits my perfectionism very well when it comes to writing. Then, once you're started to write with that attention on rhythm, using specific words, specific figures of speech to emphasize ideas or sensations, all of this is becoming highly addictive and productivity increases as well.


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>every so often I get optimistic and explain the best method of learning to write to students. I don't believe any of them has ever tried it, but I will explain it to you now. After all, you may be the exception. When I read about this method, it was attributed to Benjamin Franklin, who invented and discovered so much. Certainly I did not invent it. But I did it, and it worked. That is more than can be said for most creative writing classes. Find a very short story by a writer you admire. Read it over and over until you understand everything in it. Then read it over a lot more. Here's the key part. You MUST do this. Put it away where you cannot get at it. You will have to find a way to do it that works for you. Mail the story to a friend and ask him to keep it for you, or whatever. I left the story I had studied in my desk on Friday. Having no weekend access to the building in which I worked, I could not get to it until Monday morning. When you cannot see it again, write it yourself. You know who the characters are. You know what happens. You write it. Make it as good as you can. Compare your story to the original, when you have access to the original again. Is your version longer? Shorter? Why? Read both versions out loud. There will be places where you had trouble. Now you can see how the author handled those problems. If you want to learn to write fiction, and are among those rare people willing to work at it, you might want to use the little story you have just finished as one of your models. It's about the right length.
- Gene Wolfe in his Afterword to 'The Boy Who Hooked the Sun'


Just pick some practice prompts from the internet and start writing quick pieces, as though you were drawing quick messy sketches with a ballpoint pen during classes.

Also, read Nabokov.

Next, be consistent in your training routine. I only just figured out recently how important consistency is. Having a big folder full of notes and ideas is mostly worthless when you don't have the skills to articulate these ideas to anyone.

Here, I just picked a random exercise from the internet. There's this "take three nouns" page that generates, well, three nouns. Activate a 10m timer on your phone and start writing.


'Skill, Clock, Tiger'


Once upon a time there was a highly skilled tiger clock that wanted nothing more than to somehow learn kurmanji in preparation for joining the syrian kurds in fighting ISIS like a true gentleman. He took up his trusty dragunov tiger rifle and started practicing his gentlemanly gunmanship on random Erdogan supporters before realizing this had nothing to do with learning a new language. The tiger clock sank to his proverbial knees, sobbing on the buttstock of the ominous sniper weapon, newly born tears sliding down the glass surface of the clock's face and landing on the ebon polymer soon glistening with clocky fluids. He regretted not getting the laminated wood instead. How the fuarrrk was he going to show off his dragunov to the kurds without those catchy wooden surfaces?

There you go, motherfucker. I wrote something. Your turn.