Sunday, March 8, 2015

It Gets Better

I’ve been writing for years. Well, really, all my life. But I’ve been doing it professionally for five years. This Christmas Eve marked my five year anniversary as a published author. And the whole time I’ve hated revising. It’s my least favorite part of the process. For every work that I’ve written it felt like torture. I love writing, I love creating the story, exploring the characters and what they need, what they fear, what they love. If I could just hand the story over there I’d be happy. But unfortunately that’s not how the publishing world works.

This month I finished a new story. The whole thing. Without any torture. I not going to lie to you all, I won’t say revising it was my favorite part of the process. But it wasn’t the grueling, I’d-rather-have-my-fingernails-pulled-out process it usually is. I have a few theories why it wasn’t so bad this time. I think the last few years of working with editors, I’ve learned how to see my mistakes coming before they happen and prevent them. When I’m writing the first draft, I can tell when I write something incorrectly a lot more (like independent body parts and dangling modifiers) and I fix them right away, instead of waiting for the revisions.

I’m also planning my stories and characters better, so there’s less rewriting needed or issues that come up as I revise. I’ve learned how to walk around these pit falls before I step into them.

But I think the biggest difference is that I trust myself now. I used to spend hours poring over one sentence or paragraph, rewriting it over and over. Not sure how to improve it, what was the best way to write the sentence, which version conveyed the most emotion or best description. After writing for five years I now have the confidence to believe the description I’ve written is good, and when they need help. That confidence has allowed me to write faster and revise with a less anxiety and torture (though not absolutely none, I don’t know that I’ll ever be that confident).

I’d still rather be writing then revising any day of the year. But it was nice to see how much I’ve grown and improved over the last five years. And revisions are not the only area I’ve developed better skills. I’ve taken classes to perfect my characters after a few reviews found their motivations too complicated. I’ve studied other great writers, like some of the ladies that are part of this blog, to improve my sentence structure and descriptions.

It’s very satisfying to see the results of all that hard work. To know, when you put effort into something, and trust yourself, it does get better. And it’s important to take a moment and celebrate these achievements. Which is exactly what I’m doing tonight.

So how about you all? Is there anything you’ve worked on that you are seeing improvement? Anything you’re doing that is making your life better? Your health, our career, a hobby? Let me know in the comments and we can all celebrate our improvements together.


Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Willa. I find first drafts the hardest. Once I have something down, I can revise it. Staring at a blank screen - eeeeeeee!

jean hart stewart said...

I think most of us work all the time on some kind of improvement. All of us strive to be better, unless we're really a slob. Maybe a naive viewpoint, but it's mine....

Fiona McGier said...

I've been making afghans for all of my relatives and friends. I've gotten very good at the one pattern I keep using, over and over again. So when husband and/or kids want me to watch a movie with them on TV, I can work on the afghan, thus making me NOT feel guilty that I'm just "sitting there"...instead, I'm getting something creative done at the same time. They tell me I need to learn to relax. I think it means to sit still and not be doing anything with your hands...I don't understand the concept. ;-D