Monday, April 12, 2010

Constant Improvement

Not too long ago, I decided I was going to sit down and edit my WIP. Though well intentioned, I procrastinated, deciding I was awfully tired--it was getting later at night. What I ended up doing was looking at some drafts of some maybe-future projects if my WIP gets picked up and I can turn it into a series.

While I realize that all of these were first drafts, I noticed something rather profound in each of the portions of books I read through. If you knew when I started writing each book (some were within weeks of each other), you could see a progression--an improvement--in my writing.


This realization came just a couple weeks after I got a sort-of crit from a friend of mine who had read parts of my WIP's earlier drafts, then had read a first draft of another project with different characters. She had told me in the critique that while the portion of the story she'd read wasn't for her for various reasons, she was struck by the fact that my writing had greatly improved since she'd read some of my earlier projects. Huh! How cool is that?

My point is this: while I've constantly been attempting to improve my writing, it hasn't been a case where I sit down at my computer, open up a blank Word document and consciously think to myself, 'I'm going to make this better than my last project.' It's been that I'm constantly writing, constantly thinking of ways to improve my stories, constantly reading writers, editors, and agents blogs or books on the craft, as well as examples of good writing from those I'd like to share the market with. It's been immersing myself in my craft at every opportunity. And, even when I get discouraged, I may step back for a while, but I always come back, ready to write, edit, and grow my characters.

That's what a writer does.

On the day that I wrote this post back in March, two separate blogs had posts (or links to older posts) that really set in motion my thinking about this. I'd encourage each and every one of my readers to go read these blogs: Jody Hedlund's post Reaching for our Dreams, and Rachelle Gardner's Rants & Ramblings guest blogger Dan Case, Try Quitting. While not necessarily directly related to today's topic of improving your writing, both blog posts illustrate a lot about a writer's need to improve.

My question to you today is this: Have you noticed improvement in your own writing over the months and years? Has it been a conscious effort, or just the fact that you've been writing so long and can not only recognize 'junk', but also know how to fix the 'junk'?

Until next time,


Christ is Write. said...

My writing has definitely improved over the years. Reading other books in the genre I'm trying to write is the main thing that helps me. :) Great post!


Liberty Speidel said...

I would agree, reading constantly is a big way I learn more about the craft.

Thanks for stopping in, Tessa!

Lynnette Bonner said...

Good post, Liberty. I think this happens to the best of us. I had a book that I started about 10 years ago and, for various reasons, I didn't get around to finishing it until just a couple years ago. When my critique partners went through it, the first half of the book (written 10 years ago) had a TON of suggestions/corrections from them. But the 2nd half, not so much. One of my critters even said, "I think this is the part where you started writing more recently, I can see a vast improvement in your writing."

While I grumbled about all the corrections I needed to make to the first part of the story, I was happy to hear that all those intervening years were good for something. :)

Good writing CAN be learned, but it takes time and lots of reading and practice.

Liberty Speidel said...

Isn't the rule of thumb something like 10,000 hours of writing before your work is publishable? I can't remember, but it's a LONG time. It can usually be noted when that mark is when you read over your work from an extended period of time! :)

Thanks for stopping in, Lynnette.

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