Monday, January 23, 2012

Clearing Away The Cobwebs

With the beginning of a new year, many people begin new resolutions or re-evaluate their life styles and habits.  When there is spring cleaning, many dust away the cobwebs, disinfect and kill all the nasty germs, and sweep away all the pesky dirt particles from those dark and out of reach areas.
As a writer, there are those times when you have to ‘spring clean’ or re-evaluate your WIP, writing career, writing habits, and writing skills and so on.  Recently, I have been going through one of those annoying but much needed cleaning stages with my own writing.   It may not be a glamorous and fun celebration for a writer but it definitely can be an eye-opening experience for one. 
As I go through an older manuscript which I laid aside for a while, I become painfully aware of my short comings and flaws as I read it.  The scenes which I originally thought were well crafted fall short of piquing my interests this time around.  Then there is the dialogue between the hero and heroine which makes my eyes roll with disgust and disappointment.  I think to myself, “What the hell?” 
Yet, as much as I may cringe at previous writing projects, there are those I absolutely love and wouldn’t change a bit.  It’s a reminder to me that there’s going to be ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly’ but regardless I take my weaknesses and improve upon them.  I learn from my successes as well. 
It’s imperative that writers continue to improve their writing skills and enhance their careers.  By reading and studying books on the craft, attending workshops and conferences, obtaining a critique partner(s), and observing and ‘bending the ears’ of their peers, both unpublished or published authors can benefit from all of these methods for re-evaluating their WIPs and such. 

Ernest Hemingway hard at work.

Yet, it’s equally important for a writer not to beat his/herself up when there is an area of improvement needed.  One must remember to surround his/herself with other like minded and positive people and continue to pick up the pieces of his/her not so ‘perfect’ writing path and press forward. 
Like I mentioned before, spring cleaning or re-evaluation may not be the most exciting part of a writing career but it’s definitely the most needed in order to gain more in the long run.
What cleaning methods have been most beneficial for you?


  1. I think we all do the best we can at any given time. We can't write perfectly the first time around, but we do get better the more we learn. A workshop or book on the subject can usually inspire me to do better, LOL

  2. I keep telling myself I haven't been writing long enough to have to do this, yet, and while it may be true on one level, it's not in others. At some point, I'm going to have to look at the manuscript I tucked away in a hidden folder on my desktop and find out why it didn't do well out there in the real world. But my writing habits and style are still evolving, and I'm still trying new methods so I haven't left any alone long enough to gather dust. Um, yeah. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. :D

  3. Ugh... it's one of the reasons I've been reluctant to share my work. It's so important to get that magical crit partner who can help you see your shortcomings and hear your voice... but who won't crush the developing author yet to bloom.

    Nice thoughtful post. And points for being first to spell and use 'pique' correctly. But then, I expect no less from you. ;)

  4. Hi ladies,

    Kellie, I love workshops but a book helps most definitely especially when you have to think about finances and all.

    Noelle, My writing habits and style are continuing to evolve as well. It's seems like a never ending growing process but it's all good.

    Pamela, I'm so glad you stopped by. I know exactly what you mean. I am sometimes reluctant to share my work but then I realize there comes a time that it is most needed and finding a compatible critique partner is a must. Thank you for your kind words as well. Hope you have a wonderful day.

    JD :)

  5. I teach college students to write and one thing I notice is that I am always find ways and tricks to help them become better writers. Also, grading their papers and helping them learn to revise, helps me as a writer. With each new in-class writing exercise or technique I come up for them, I think about them when I am doing my own writing. I think teaching them to be more descriptive helps me be more descriptive. Teaching them to use analogies and metaphors gets me to think about using them. I guess the teaching gig, has helped me out a lot. Now if it didn't wear me out so much, that I could actually find time to write more and enjoy, that would be great.

  6. Kasey,

    I totally agree with you. When I teach writing to students or critique another author's work, it definitely helps me with growing as a writer. Although I haven't yet to judge any writing contest; I have heard from other authors that judging is also beneficial with improving one's craft.

  7. Of course I rely heavily on my critique partners, but I've also found that judging contests helps me tremendously. I see how other writiers 'in training' as I am, work compares to mine. I learn from entering also, but seem to get more out of judging. I've got that score sheet and what to look for and I always take something back with me in my own writing.

    I wrote four manuscripts in a row without taking a break. Of course every one got easier to write. But when I went back and started reading the first one after finishing the third or fourth, I realized how much better my writing was. As I'm re-writing all my books for publishing, it's gratifying to see how much better my style got, even without training, as I start on the later books.
    Another great post, J.D.