Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lazy Writer

I'm always disappointed when an author debuts an incredible book, but subsequent books lack the intensity of the first. Or when I have a favorite show that gripped me for the first few seasons, but then suddenly the show's writers fall back on cliched scenarios and contrived conflict. That annoys me.

And I'm a hypocrite.

Alas, I have discovered to my horror that I, too, have become a lazy writer.

I studied when I was a newbie. I gulped down craft information for hours on end. But now, in my rush to write, some of these precious gems have fallen to the wayside. Thank goodness for a crit group.

So I "tell" a little too much in my writing. I was lazy and it was easy to do. Now I'm buckling down, ready to sweat out some "showing".

When you get lazy, what part of your writing is the first to get flubby?

50 comments:

Jody Hedlund said...

So true, Jessica! It's easy to get lazy in our writing, especially when we're in a hurry! But if we want each of our books to be better than the last, then we have to keep on growing in our writing skills. Great post!

MeganRebekah said...

It's so easy to get lazy!! I find myself doing it all the time, and it shows in the work.

Jessica said...

Hi Jody,
Even when the growing is painful, which it is for me. LOL

Jessica said...

True Megan, it does show. Which I found out to my chagrin. Ha.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Do I really have to confess here?? LOL!

Okay. It's the editing part that I get lazy about. I just want to write it out on fast forward, bless it and send it out! But of course I know the real work begins after the first draft and there's so much of it, but thanks to my writer/blogger friends, I'm encouraged to get down to business and do the best job I can!

Jessica said...

LOL Donna! I used to be better at editing but now I get so restless. There are so many other stories that I just want to jump into those and whiz through editing. Glad I'm not the only one tempted to do that. :-)

Kristen Painter said...

I tend to leave out the emotional reactions when I'm lazy. But that's what edits are for!

anita said...

Well, I have two different parts of my writing that can get flabby when I'm being lazy.

First, if I'm not super careful, I can OVERwrite to the point that my prose is WAY lush, so much it's almost purple prosey.

Then, sometimes, I get lazy and I want to go too sparse on the descriptions, because even though that's one of my strengths, it's also very hard work and sometimes I just DON'T want to do it. I find myself wrestling with this the most during setting up a new chapter / scene and trying to orient the reader where we are, etc...

Those sound like two opposite problems, but really, they are born of the same part of my style. I have to rein in my stream of conscious writing, but at the same time, have to force myself not to tighten the reins so much that I just skim over it, either.

Sheesh. Writing is HARD work. Good thing we love it so much! :-)

Marybeth Poppins said...

Ahhh...the dreaded show vs. tell. I'm in a fight with that demon this week. I think it's crazy, he thinks I'm lazy. I have a feeling he's going to win....sigh....

And this is only my FIRST novel.....

Cindy said...

This is so true! If we don't continue to try to improve, to remember what we've already learned and apply it in new and interesting ways, we can get lazy. When I get lazy, I start using passive verbs. She WAS going to the store. She WAS going to buy bread. Ugh...

sherrinda said...

Details fly out the window when I am lazy. Oh, and I tend to write more in the passive voice. Actually, I am lazy alot these days!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Lazy writing for me is not enough revisions. I'm huge on wordiness in my first draft, so if I don't revise many times, the wordiness stays.

Dara said...

Passive voice is my first part of writing that becomes flubby. For some reason, it's easier for me to slip into the dreaded passive voice when I'm not really putting forth the effort like I should.

Also, "telling" is another part that I tend to do when I'm being lazy. With that and passive voice, it's quite a deadly duo :P

Jessica said...

True enough Kristen. Edits are our friend. :-)

Jessica said...

LOL Anita! So what you're saying is you're an extremist?

Jessica said...

LOL Marybeth! Fight him to the death... Heeeheee

Jessica said...

Exactly Cindy. We may know something but if we're not applying it, then our knowledge is useless.
Passive verbs, huh? Don't you love those? Snort!

Jessica said...

LOL Sherrinda! I don't think you're lazy. :-) Maybe busy... Like Kristen said, edits are where we get to catch and slay all these flaws. :-) The nice thing about details is you can add them in pretty easily.

Jessica said...

Hi Eileen,
Well, you must've done well on the draft I read because I don't remember it being wordy. Thank goodness for revisions, right?

Jessica said...

LOL Dara!
A deadly duo, that made me laugh. I'm not sure I slip into passive writing, but I sure do with telling. And sometimes they're definitely a duo, in that a sentence can be both telling and passive. The stinker.

Terri Tiffany said...

I have to agree with Donna-- I get lazy on the editing and am trying really really hard not to this time! And you are a fantastic writer BTW!!!

quixotic said...

Oh yes, it is easy to fall into the lazy trap. Critique groups are so helpful when it comes to getting back in line. I've already heard my fair share of bad critiques on chapters that could have been so much better, if I had put more effort into them.

Thanks for posting this as a reminder to us out there in internet land.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Jessie:
Thanks for reminding us not to fall back into old, lazy habits.

Let's see... I know I'm getting lazy when I write the same things I've said before in other articles. Or when I use the same word over agan, rather than looking up a better one. So, should I rather say I'm being indolent, or slothful?

Bless you, dear, for this diligent post!
Jen

Jessica said...

Thanks Terri. :-) That's sweet of you to say, but what you'd read has been through rounds and rounds of critiques! LOL So maybe I should say I have some fantastic crit buddies? ;-)

Your writing is pretty polished. I saw no evidence of laziness there. :-)

Jessica said...

LOL Katie. I love that you call it a trap! That's exactly what it is, and if it weren't for crit groups, we might get stuck and not even realize it. :-)

Jessica said...

Jen, you funny lady! :-) Whatever word we call it, we know when we're slacking off. The funny thing is, at least for me, I'll try to sneak it by and not face what I've done. Typical human nature, huh?
Thanks for commenting Jen!

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Run-on sentences are my big problem. It takes me several rounds of edits to pick them all out, and even them some of them continue to elude me.

I also have been guilty of info dumps. I think these things aren't so bad to do in first drafts when you are just trying to get the story down, we just have to make sure we take the time to catch them when it's time to do revisions.

T. Anne said...

Gosh yes I get lazy! Sad to say I do my fair share of telling. It's sort of the point isn't it? ;)

Warren Baldwin said...

The beginning, or opening, of my article. I just can't seem to get started.

Kara said...

It's so easy to get lazy isn't it? I tend to rush my story and make silly mistakes.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

I'm editing a section, which resembles a ping-pong match. Gobs of dialogue with little setting to give it interest makes me fall asleep.

When I get lazy, setting is the first element to fall by the wayside.

Thanks, Jess. You're always in top form.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jessica said...

Hi Kate,
Yeah, in the rough draft I don't think an info dump is so bad, as long as you trim in edits. :-) Good luck with those sentences. LOL

Jessica said...

LOL T. Anne,
It kind of is.

Jessica said...

Hi Warren, I think we all go through that sometimes too. Isn't it nice when the words start to flow, though?

Jessica said...

Kara, that makes me think of myself and math. I'd always get the wrong answer and then figure out it was because of a silly mistake, something I should've known.
So when you slow down, do you find that you get a cleaner manuscript?

Jessica said...

Hi Susan,
Thanks for the sweet compliment. My hubby, I think, would disagree. LOL

The good thing about setting is that you can add it in fairly painlessly. Good luck with that!
:-)

Pen Pen said...

I think we push so hard at first cuz we have something to prove-we're working toward being accepted. Pretty much every author goes thru it I think...Things just start becoming mundane once you've gone over "the hill"...
BUT- If you know it's creeping in, you are miles ahead of most- u can stop it and take back up the reigns :)

Jessica said...

Great comment Pen Pen. I agree.

Genny said...

Jessica,
I don't know what I'd do without my critique group! We've been "together" for almost five years now and the feedback I get from them is invaluable!
Happy writing!
Genny

Jessica said...

Thanks Genny! I'm thankful for mine too.

Irritable Mother said...

Oh, girl, you always make me stop and think!
(That's a good thing. *grin*)
I think I'm laziest when I'm in a hurry - just want to get something written. But I'm rarely able to let it go...I keep mulling it over in my head, realizing something needs to change. And then I go back and re-work it.
So, the priciple I'm trying to teach my children about chores applies to writing, too: Being lazy really just makes you work more and longer!

Jeanette Levellie said...

BTW, did you know the reason tv shows get stale is because the first two or three seasons they have fresh, new writers that have tons of creative ideas, but cost the studio less.

As the show takes off, older, established writers talk the producers into hiring them to "help," then the scripts become stale once again. Sad, huh?
Next time you get tired of a show, look at the credits at the end and see who they've added to the writing staff!

Just thought I'd throw in that tidbit for good measure.

Blessings, Jen

Jessie Oliveros said...

Hmmm, that's hard because I think when I'm lazy I don't even write. So you have more raw material than I do even if you are telling not showing.

Deb Shucka said...

When I'm tired (or not wanting to feel what's coming next) I also slip into telling events rather than letting the story have control.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Great discussion and reminders for us all.

Jessica said...

LOL Karen, you mean I can apply this to child-rearing too? Hmmmmm....
Or maybe to myself? (thinking of the stack of laundry on my ironing board, lol)

Jessica said...

Jeanette, that's really interesting. I had no clue.

Jessica said...

LOL Jessie
Well, I wouldn't say I don't write either! Snort. I def. have my dry spells.

Jessica said...

Deb, that's a good point about not wanting to "feel" a scene. Sometimes we just don't want to go there, but the story is better if we do.

Jessica said...

Thanks for stopping by, Angie, with your crazy schedule. :-)