Writing is a passion! Writing is a job!
I discovered a love of writing at a young age. Sometime around the fourth grade. I remember that we were asked to write a Halloween story for class. It didn’t have to be long. Just a page really. I loved Halloween (still do). Writing that one page was easy, but after turning in the assignment, I found that I wanted to write a longer story. One page just wasn’t enough for the tale I wanted to spin.
And so it began. The road to becoming a writer. I’ve come up with lots of ideas for lots of stories. I’ve even written quite a bit of them. And over time, I’ve discovered the other side of writing. The job. The endless slog to polish off a story (or novel) for publication. Isn’t that the goal? To be in print?
It’s so easy to write. It’s not so easy to be a perfectionist. That’s what I think leads to writer’s block. At least in my case. I want to churn out that perfect story. One ready for publication. Editing? Why would it need that if it’s written perfectly the first time? But is that ever truly the case? When you’re writing–and I mean really writing–your fingers tape across the keyboard rapidly punching in letters that become words. The story flows out of your mind and onto the page. You are in that magically inspired zone as if you’ve been gifted by the muses of old.
Better read over what you’ve written afterwards though. It’s amazing how many typos and mispelled words sneak into your writing when you’re in “the zone.” Then comes the over-analysis of what you’ve written. Couldn’t that sentence be better written? Is that word the best one to use? And the ever horrific, do I really need this whole paragraph?!
Thus, writing is a job. A serious one. The fun of crafting stories, plotting scenes and characters, is a joy. Proofreading and editing your own work is a nightmare. Yes, you are your own worst critic. Write it today; hate it tomorrow. But there are times when you read over something and proudly think, “Did I really write that? That’s really good!” And so you continue along. Wanting to write, wanting it to be perfect. That’s the job of being a writer.
More and more I see myself improving in that secondary role of editing and fine tuning what I’ve written. At least, I have to think so. Until that piece or another is published, I can’t truly know if I’ve reached nirvana. Even then, aren’t some authors dissatisfied with what they’ve published? Reading books on writing and editing, even reading published novels in my preferred genres, helps cultivate my sense for spotting errors in my work. Beyond simple typos and misspellings. I’m talking content.
The worst part of writing is the need–the very important and necessary need–to analysis what you’ve written and fix clunky sentences, scrap words even whole paragraphs to tighten up your prose. Asking the questions: Does this grab readers? Is the point of view consistent? Is the verb tense? Have I included too much information too soon? Or too little information?
It’s all about the presentation. The dish may be delicious–the ingredients superb–but without those elegant finishing touches chefs add to make their dish a work of art, the plate lacks appeal. In the publishing world, editors will pass and look for a better dish.
Take the time to polish and polish some more. I’m sure I’m not the first to say so. It’s a challenge for those of us with day jobs, coming home feeling tired after another long day. How is one supposed to rev up one’s creative juices and write, much less polish something already written?! Time is precious. Maybe more so to writers. And God help those of us who love to procrastinate! I find it challenging to set aside time to write, doubly so for time to edit. But it needs doing. Write first, then edit. Do a little bit of both each day.
Now that I’ve given myself this little pep talk, it’s time to polish off the recent batch of stories and then write some more!