Show, Don’t Tell


I have not been very active on my blogs lately for a number of reasons… depression, lack of energy, lack of motivation, lack of words!

I have had several ideas fermenting in the dark and dingy recesses of my mind though, images and pictures prompting me to come up with stories to match them.

One image in particular I simply couldn’t shake off was of a woman, sitting at a mirror, removing her make up. There was a heavy feeling of sadness and hopelessness around her and I wondered why. I felt she was wearing a mask, hiding behind the mascara and lipstick, the way so many of us do. But more so, she was hiding from herself. She could not face herself in the mirror. There was a deep sense of self loathing about her.

So today, on a whim, I sat down and opened my MacBook and just started to write. Her story developed as I wrote and it was completed in less than ten minutes.

I hesitated about whether to post it or not. It felt very unpolished, (well, ten minute stories usually are!), and I felt I hadn’t quite fulfilled the very wise brief issued by Anton Chekov above.

I wonder how other writers work? I would love to hear about your process.

Do you write fast or slow? Edit heavily or, like me, barely at all? Plan your story or just let it flow? How do you cope with blocks? What aspects of writing are most challenging for you?

Do you, like me, struggle sometimes to show and not tell? I think it is the mark of truly good writing and I aspire to it, although I do not always succeed.

I wonder too if you are like me. I don’t write at all for days, maybe for up to an entire week and then I have a day like today where I have churned out 4, (yes 4! Go me!), blog posts.

It is probably about having the time, or maybe it’s simply a headspace thing, I don’t know. I wonder as I write this how long it will be before I write again? I never write over the weekends because the OH is here and I think it is important to spend time away from the blogs and focus on us.

So I will wait to see if next week brings inspiration or not.

I hope it does. The days when I write are the best days!

Thanks for reading and please do comment about your writing process, I am all ears!

If you want the story and today’s other posts here they are!

The Mask


Wall of Tears



Copyright, 2015,Β
All rights reserved.

48 thoughts on “Show, Don’t Tell

  1. Yeah, I totally struggle with “show don’t tell.”

    And my writing process is all over the place. Some weeks I work on my novel-in-progress all day and into the night. And some weeks, I’m obsessed with blogging and facebook posts. And some weeks, I listen to a lot of podcasts and call it research.

  2. When I write – and that’s when I’m inspired to do it – it can either be fast or slow depending on how the idea is rolling around in my head. I can open Word and bang out 20,000+ words before I’m aware of doing it… or it might take me hours or even days just to write two or three pages that make sense. I’ve started a piece… and have turned right around and deleted it or have relegated it to my “Unfinished” folder because it didn’t make sense or my inspiration got up and walked away to do something else.

    Most of the time, I know exactly how a story is going to be written before I even write it; sometimes, it just mysteriously comes together without having a storyline in mind – these are the stories that when I go back and read them, I think, “Wow… I wrote this? This is some good shit!” But, alas, there are also the stories that are so “bad” I won’t finish them and can’t go back to them because, yeah, it just sucks and it ain’t worth fixing. As a writer, I just accept that this is how it can be at times although I’m still wondering about the exact mechanism in play when I write – how can I write something that’s brilliant and the next thing be so crappy?

  3. I have been writing nearly every day since I started my blog. At the moment I feel like I have an inexhaustible supply of ideas & need to write every day to stay on top of them. Also, since some of what I write is topical/inspired by news, I need to get the posts up quickly.

    My journalism background made it easy to get back in the habit of writing, and because I used to work on deadline for a daily newspaper, I’m usually able to “pull something out of my ass” that’s halfway decent, even if its not the post I originally envisioned.

    I’m noticing my posts definitely have a journalistic style to them, with some personal stories and ranting sprinkled in. I’m hoping to break away from that and experiment with different styles.

  4. I don’t know if I can call myself a writer, but considering the length of my posts, I suppose I sometimes am πŸ™‚
    20,000, that’s just 10 posts for me, most of the time. And I have now written 300+ πŸ˜‰
    But it isn’t a story most of the time. It’s a glimpse, thoughts being developed around an idea…
    Or a poem. Though I still hesitate to call what I write poetry, because I don’t feel it’s good enough. But then again, some people seem to like it, so Hey! πŸ™‚
    Most of the time, I write because I have to. Sometimes it’s to vent anger, sometimes to express the sadness that overwhelms me, sometimes just because I know I want to lay down those thoughts that are roaming in my mind, lest I forget them.
    I don’t usually write if I don’t feel like it, and there are some weeks when it’s quite hard to sit myself in front of the computer. Whether because I don’t have the time, or whether because I don’t have anything to say. And then there are days like today where I wrote 2 or 3 posts, even though they were quite short.
    I do proof read, I do edit sometimes, but most of the time, I let my mind flow. I started blogging as a journal really, so this is the type of writing I do. I even get surprised sometimes because hte post goes somewhere completely unexpected; this for the posts that try to work around my thoughts, not the hot posts. Those are basically the story of my life, so they pretty much describe what happened in the same order (though sometimes I edit parts of what really happened, because it doesn’t bring much and it would lead to too long a post).
    Sometimes, for the longer posts. when it’s getting too late and I’m really too tired, I make some notes at the bottom of the post to be sure not to forget to write about those things, and then I sleep on it. But this works mostly for my longer posts, the ones over 2,000 words.
    Most of the shorter ones are written pretty quickly.
    There you go… my writing process πŸ˜‰

  5. As for showing, not telling… I’m not sure how I do on that. I never gave it much thought until now. I’ll try to work on it more πŸ˜‰

  6. I write when I need to exorcise a story or fantasy that is tumbing around my mind. By the time I start typing it up, the story is pretty much a written expression of what I have been living in my imagination for the days or weeks before.

    In some of my stories I can spend ages writing and rewriting a particular paragraph to make sure I have the right words and the finesse, so that an image or emotion can be painted accurately with minimal words; at other times (too often now, I suspect). I land up dashing the story off in order to get it down so that once again my mind can return to being a blank slate. My proof reading for the quickies is limited to a pass or two or edits.

    And then I wonder – where will the next inspiration come from, or have I now exhausted my dark kinks and secrets which I share by disguising them with the veneer of a story and posting them on my blog as a piece of erotica.

    Inevitably, perhaps weeks or months later, another fantasy pops into my head. Another writer told me that fantasies and story lines for writers are like taxis……..eventually one will show up.

    • Yes I often have an idea floating around and I find that walking helps. I have frequently written an entire story in my head and rush home to get it written down!
      I too worry that inspiration will dry up. Probably every writer fears that.

  7. I seem to write every day. However, I was burnt toast at the begining of the year and wrote almost nothing intil March. Fallow time – it’s good for your mental health.

    The other day I spent my morning writing time reading an old novel I’d started a day or two before. Then I found 3 poems exiting mu pen that afternoon while work was slow.

  8. I spend an embarrassingly short amount of time polishing & editing. I’ve been trying to sit on things longer – I think I’ve put out a lot of crap because I’ve been in too big a hurry to press “PUBLISH”…

  9. You know me, I’m definitely the same… and not just with writing. With all things creative I work in bursts of energy that last anywhere from hours to weeks. And then I have quiet times. Though usually a lack of writing just means I’m creating in a different way. Rare are the times when I sit with no voice at all, though they do happen from time to time. πŸ™‚

  10. Hi lovey, glad to hear you’re back with the muse and that the sun is shining on you again.
    I write or think of writing every day, though recently it’s been hard to ‘keep my pecker up’ as my dear late father in law would say- gloom about my writing has descended like a peasouper that I’m struggling to find my way through.
    I love trying to show not tell, but I often over write in the attempt. I’m terrible for writing, rewriting, tweaking – I’ve been writing the same book for six years for God’s sake! Even blog posts seem to take me an age – tweak, tweak, tweak. And even then my short stories aren’t the best. I think I need to hold off writing for longer, plan more and re write less.
    Keep sunny πŸ™‚

  11. I seem to think of great ideas just as I hop into bed and then have to try and remember them so I can type them up the next day! I think I’m getting better at showing and not telling so much now.

  12. I think to show not tell is quite an art to be mastered. One could also use dialogue to convey information. My characters sometimes have a mind of their own and go in a direction I did not intend. I was also told that writing is editing. While the creative juices are flowing I write without much attention to do’s and dont’s. Afterwards most of my time and energy goes into editing. Ok that was when I was still writing. These days I hardly get time to write.

  13. Pingback: Wednesday word tangle | Word Shamble

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