For someone who is still finding their way within the literary industry I get an unusually large number of people who email through asking for advice on how to make their own websites more successful. It’s a weird concept to me, especially considering that in the grand scheme of things I have a fairly small about of followers here at Renegade Press. Don’t get me wrong; I’m flattered that someone would ever consider reaching out for advice. I just think that there are probably a few hundred thousand minds that are trust worthier than mine to seek assistance from. Nevertheless whenever such an email arrives I try to find the time to read through a few posts and provide what little constructive feedback that I can to an author not too dissimilar from myself.
While some excerpts require a little more structure or clarity of thoughts, most posts that I read are great. In fact some make me a little worried about my future. I’m still trying to establish myself as a writer and yet the people who are asking me for advice are already out producing me. Not that that is a bad thing; I’m an arrogant piece of work who wants to be the best. I revel in the fact that there are still a myriad of authors ahead of me. It keeps me hungry and pushes me to create bigger and bolder pieces. But for all of the positivity and acclimations I bestow upon these bloggers there’s one reoccurring issue that I tend to point out in the works of others, as well as myself…
We writers like to believe that we have this insanely broad vocabulary that we can call upon at a moments notice to create poignant and emotive prose. Yet more often than not we resort to vulgarity to drive home a point. We create pieces that butcher the language we love by using lowbrow phrases like fucking hate rather that loathe or abhor. Or we use terrible clichéd expressions like fuck you to allow our reader to understand our angst and frustrations. While it can feel good to write such unrefined prose, it is ultimately lazy and tends to alienate your reader.
-Actually let’s stop for a second because that one is a real pet peeve of mine. Simply writing fuck you is never clever, nor witty, nor anything else. It’s hands down the laziest expression one can use to display angst. No writer anywhere should use such overused, tired, pathetic excuse of a statement. It cheapens what you are trying to accomplish and makes you look like a second rate hack. Got it? Good. Let’s continue…
There are many pitfalls to writing and there are so many factors that can influence the work you produce. Your mood; the music you listen to, films you watch, people you associate with, books you read, exercise, exposure to media, and just about anything else has the power to alter how you approach your work. There’s no exact science to what we do, and the effects that our circumstances have on our craft can range from inspiring creative outpourings during which you produce an endless stream of high quality work, to writer’s block; the dreaded emotional ailment that sees you unable to even form a coherent paragraph. But perhaps the most troubling condition that can befall a writer (young or old) is writer’s laze.
It’s this state of creative complacency that sees potentially great pieces become disjointed postings that just miss the mark they’re intending to strike. More often than not the manifestation of this laze is witnessed through a writer reverting to profanity.
But Chris, you swear all the time…
Yeah I do. And in the interest of complete disclosure it must be said that my excessive use of profanity has become a point of contention with some of my readership. For every email I receive asking for a critique there’s another saying a reader disagrees with my liberal tongue. But in spite of vulgarity’s ability to destroy prose or an argument, in some instances cussing has the ability to further a manuscript or blog post. However achieving such an outcome requires talent. It needs to be used sparingly and needs to be inserted into a piece of work with the utmost precision if it is to further the intrigue or emotional engagement of the reader. It’s lazy to rely on cussing to drive passion into a piece, however it’s extremely wondrous to read the work of an author with a deft mind who can utilize a word like fuck to create a level of heightened understanding within their readership.
For someone who swears as much as I do it can be easy to slip into a perpetual case of writer’s laze. It’s easy to show emotion through profanity, but it’s so much more engaging when a writer produces clean and concise literature that blindsides the reader or creates an emotional outpouring without tramping out the same busted up profanes being uttered in school yards. In some respects it’s a writer’s ability to detach themselves from their writer’s laze and reliance on cussing that separates an amateur from the very best. Profundity can be found in the most structurally fragile piece of work; readerships can be established upon the scaffolding of semi-coherent ideas. But the alienation of a reader through an over abundance of swearing can take a masterpiece and turn it into just another piece of shit.
29 thoughts on “Writer’s Laze”
You make a great point. I look forward to reading more of your posts.
Feel free to stop by my awesome blog some time.
I agree with what you say in principle, but sometimes the F word is the most appropriate one to use. It’s prevalent in modern society, which thus necessitates its use in dialogue if said dialogue is to sound realistic. In the armed forces or a crackhouse, for instance, every second word would be the F word, and for a writer to abandon this in the name of good taste would make the dialogue seem stilted and unreal. Imagine, for example, if all the F words in the film Platoon had been changed to Flippin’ or Damn. While that may be a slightly over-the-top example, I just cannot think of any word that could replace it whilst holding onto the gritty reality of soldiers at war.
Yes, I see many so-called writers over use this word, but sometimes no other will do.
Great f**king post, though. Thanks 🙂
one effing post *
I actually avoid using profanity on my blog (I try to keep it clean!). It can be difficult to find the best words at times, but I like the challenge and it’s good to stretch out the vocabulary muscles!
Ah, the F word … and consorts. What a great way to express one’s disillusionment and demotivation; loss of hope and care. Where hope and care, even when run thin hence expressed through cynicism [Yes cynicism signifies one still cares! Trying to change the reader for the ‘better’, if not by carrot then by stick] that often finds so much more eloquence than the all-negative disinterest of F…
Hm. Just wanted to note that Ulysses might have been shorter if expressed with some more swear words but there you go; that’s seldomly the point. ;-|
Very well said – and I completely agree. I tended to add quite a bit of swearing when I was younger, but I’ve since realized cussing detracts from a story. That said, I also agree with GPeynon – there is a time and a place for such less creative language, particularly in conversation between people. While we, as writers, should find better ways to express emotion, people generally spit out the first thing that comes to mind when they’re angry, hurt, jealous and etc. That in mind, I do avoid using less than favorable language in my blogs, but then I don’t want to influence anyone in a negative way. Thank you for the awesome post and blunt thoughts!
Great post! I thought the same thing, that sometimes in dialogue, you just have to have your characters swear, otherwise the conversation would sound ridiculous. The narrator of the story however, doesn’t have to spew profanity just to get a point across. There are some powerful words that can express those emotions without being vulgar.
Fucking great post….thanks for visiting my blog ; )
Sometimes, just sometimes, there is no better word for that FEELING of saying F^%k!!
Love this!! I recently signed up for twitter and maybe it is just being new to it all, but I am appalled at the vulgarity. And I curse, a LOT, in real life. But I think, we as writers, can do a bit better. Thanks for this!
Nice ending, I actually felt a bit of a plummet down, intentional? to drive the point home?
Yes, I guess shit has more impact than excrement, number two, or poop.
Vocabulary hard to use it and make it sound intelligent! !!!!!!!!!!
I go by an old rule of thumb that states that if it doesn’t advance the plot or add insight into a character, I don’t use it.
Great topic! Yes, in my writing…even on my rather casually scribbled Blog, I try to avoid swearing unless that one word sends a punch to the point I’m writing about. I swear like a sailor in conversations with certain friends and even folks I don’t know too well… depending on the situation: (almost Never at work, for instance) But I enjoy sprinkling a few “bad words” into some situations just for the shock value. Especially as I am a rather proper lookin woman in my 70’s now! Some people seem to get a great kick out of it! But not in published writing much.
great post and you made a great point, i’m definitely going to be taking the “anti” or maybe just “less swearing” approach to my writing and on;y use profanity in my blog when it truly enhances the post.
I think I try, maybe, sometimes, to write the way I speak. I have no desire to “talk down” to anyone nor do I find the need to “dumb down” what I say.
In my everyday life I cuss a great deal, but I don’t believe this necessarily impacts eloquence in a negative way. In fact, if you were to listen to some Chavs on a street corner, you’d hear some of the most inventive cursing ever uttered, and all in a nonchalant, off-the-cuff manner that would make you envy their casual creativity. If you could parse a bloody word they were saying, that is.
That said, as others have commented above, I believe cussing has an appropriate time and place, and it will ultimately embellish or embarass your work in accordance with how and when it takes the stage. To neglect it as a literary device is arbitrary. To abuse it is irresponsible.
You have good sense of humour too! 😀
That last line actually made me chuckle out loud x
I just wrote about this, as well, and I agree. I clean up the majority of my posts in order to communicate clearly and encourage participative discussion. However, I began blogging as more of an online journal, so if I’m thinking it, it’s likely to come through in the occasional posts. I’ve just begun putting those in a separate place so people can easily skip over them if they wish to.
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Very interesting reading, totally agree BUT I was a secretary never swore. I became a masseuse. Took me a while to swear, I was even nicknamed the ‘Duchess’ too posh. Now in my memoir I have to use the F word and others. Posh would not work writing about this line of work. I hope I do not offend.
I agree with you. The word you talk about here turns me off when I see it. I have to muster courage to continue reading. Refined, uplifting language is best for me.
Awesome post! I don’t curse at all anymore. 5 years now, so I must always find better ways to get the passion and other heavy emotions across in my writing. I love it!
I strongly agree with you – the overuse of profanity, just like the overuse of any word, dilutes its impact. I know when I’ve written something profound. It doesn’t happen often, but it stands out. And if it calls for the word fuck to get the point across, I don’t hesitate to use it. No matter who is reading.
Thanks for stopping by my fiction blog, Chris. 🙂
I’m not gonna lie, fuck is my favorite word. It’s so incredibly versatile. I do agree with some of your points. Language is fun. Learning to use more words with rich flavor makes us more proficient, but if someone is going to be turned off by a simple word choice, then I’d rather they weren’t reading my words, or if they were, that they were somehow able to broaden their horizons to look past the perceived negativity that society has given to certain words. I realize this is an “art”, and we’re all critics with our own views. I should just be happy that we’re not all content with similar Plain Jane perspectives. That’d get real boring real quick.
Hello Chris, I believe you stumbled upon my blog today. However, I made a conscious attempt to visit yours. Glad to see how you juggle language to your ‘writing advantage’. Loved what I read. Hope to read more. Best wishes. Do write more!
Couldn’t have described this concept better myself. I try to not use profanity but it can be difficult at times, mainly because those words just slip out without thought, like a go-to. But if utilized with intention then it works.