Getting better

I was reading a recent post on The Writing Life, and I got to thinking about improving one’s writing.

I probably don’t devote as much time to writing as I could – I do have to spend time in the real world earning a crust after all. I still write a lot – it may not always be my current WIP, it may be a work-related report, a blog entry, a blog comment, a forum post etc, or it may be something related to editing what I have previously written. A long time ago, when I started writing my first novel, I fondly imagined that having completed it, that was it finished. Needless to say I’ve learnt a lot since then. At the moment it takes me about a year to complete a first draft. I need at least a further year to get the novel into an acceptable state, and even then there may be further tinkering depending on feedback. After all, I’m under no illusions that my writing is perfect, or ever will be. Thus reports of authors who have been so successful that they are able to negotiate contracts that prohibit their publisher from editing a single word of their illustrious prose fill me with amazement at the wilful self-blindness of these authors. I recall a notorious review on Amazon where a certain horror writer who shall remain nameless, demonstrated to perfection in her response to criticism of her recent bestseller just how badly she did require editing. But in her eyes, her writing was perfect.

I am more likely to suffer from the opposite problem – thinking my work is far worse than it really is. That’s the trouble with writing – so much of it is subjective and down to the reader’s perception.

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6 responses to “Getting better

  1. Your writing seems sophisticated to me.

    Best of luck on your book.

  2. I absolutely detest the rewriting stage, although I know it has to be done. I have to bring a very solid will power to it and multiple incentives!

  3. Oh, me too. I feel as if I’m banging my head off a brick wall now that I’m on the 9th draft of my ms! Many years ago I held the naive view that “good” writers churned out their novel word perfect on the first attempt. The day I came to the realisation that good writers perservered and wrote draft after draft to improve their writing, was the day I came to take writing seriously.

  4. I don’t mind some re-writing it’s just that sometimes it seems neverending. I think I’ve got the MS into a readable state, and someone else gives me feedback that makes me want to completely rewrite it from the beginning again. And what’s worse, sometimes feedback can be conflicting.

  5. Gwen Madoc

    I love the revision stage. Having finished the first draft and come to the end of the book I can print it out and read it through to find out what exactly I have written. This is the stage for polishing, re-writing, working out unnoticed snags. I hope that at this point I can enhance all aspects of the book.
    But with a deadline always looming there is no time to pour over the work continually. In my last book I was unhappy with th ending. I had to rewrite it three times before I was satisfied – but I had gone past my deadline. I received worried queries – ‘Where’s the book?’
    Deadlines are important to publishers, for they have the whole of the production to consider. Authors do themselves no favours if they deliver late.

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