Friday, May 4, 2012

Growing As A Writer

I think that sometimes, as writers, we tend to get down on ourselves and our writing. We can always improve, we can always fix something and write faster and try harder. Our prose can be better. Our plots tighter. Our characters more likable. Our premises more interesting.

I'm wracked with doubt every time I sit down to write. Doubt and hope. Doubt and hope. It's an endless cycle.

The other day I pulled out my first novel and read some of it. It's still a first draft, and I still love the premise, and I still think about going back to it one day,, it's messy. And kind of scary. And pretty...bad.

But the funny thing is that I used to think it was awesome. (Ha ha ha!) And even though it sounds like I'm bashing myself, I'm not. This realization made me insanely happy, because I realized that I've grown SO MUCH as a writer since that first novel. All that angsting over the keyboard with the new novel has not been in vain. My writing is stronger than it used to be. (And will get stronger still!)

Not only that, but my first novel took me almost two years to write. Just the first draft. I'd write a page or two and think that was impressive for one day. (And hey, at the time, it totally was for me. We do what we can, and I finished the draft that way.) But now? I usually set a goal of at least 1,000 words a day. I never thought I'd be able to do that.

Somehow, during all that writing, even while I was doubting and getting down on myself, I was growing. And I didn't even realize it.

So today, I'd like to encourage all of you who might be doubting your work or getting down on yourselves. Everything you write--EVERYTHING--is helping you grow as a writer. Even that crap scene that you just cut. Even that piece of dialogue that made you cringe. Even that cliche that your CP nailed you for. It's all worth it and helping in some way.

So tell me, lovely friends: in what ways have you grown since you first started writing? What are you most proud of? For me, it's my word count, and the flow of my writing. It's not as choppy as it used to be. It's not perfect by ANY MEANS, but it's better. Definitely better.


  1. My first drafts are pretty horrible. But I know it and I don't care. My writing teacher always told me if it's not crappy, it's not a first draft. I've taken that to heart and it's allowed me to just write and get it down on the page, and then go back later to revise. I think my editing skills have greatly improved by doing this too.

  2. Well, my speed as definitely improved. My first ms took me two years. The subsequent four MS have taken me about 3 weeks each. :) I do think this has a big effect though on how well I write. Being able to just go nonstop until I type the end creates a really shakey first draft but a pretty cohesive story.

    Then there's the edits. Which I am becoming better at too :)

  3. Love this post. I haven't gone back to read my first ms.... I'm kinda afraid of it. Though I have been thinking about it a lot. I never finished it, but I'm pretty sure that I'm going back to it someday. because I truly love that story. I definitely write faster than I used to, BUT I'm still a SLOW SLOW writer. I can't just write without editing myself. I think and think about the scene.. and try to get as many details of it right the first time around... sigh... it's almost painful, LOL BUT I'm embracing my process for now.

  4. I absolutely agree with you that everything helps you grow as a writer. Blog posts, comments, I suppose even facebook status updates and tweets help you (caveat: provided you *think* about them). I've seen people despair over a scene or chapter they cut out of a draft on the basis that it's 'wasted writing' but I don't believe that. The fact they recognized the scene/chapter either isn't good or doesn't belong is an important part of being a writer, and the act of writing it was part of it as well.

    As for me, I think the biggest thing for me is in gaining more confidence in myself and being more willing to share what I've written with others a little easier. Getting feedback and criticism from others is an integral part of growing as a writer. Without some degree of self-confidence, you won't share and will cut yourself off from that avenue of growth.

  5. Oh man, I've taken the first draft of the first novel out and LAUGHED then CRIED. Haha. It was bad! Formatting and everything else.

    But you are so right! I have grown so much, and even the 2nd one, I look at the 1st draft and laugh.

    It's a good thing though. Each time I write I know I'll get stronger.

  6. I agree with every word you've said, Amanda. Every word we write helps us become a better writer. Even if they aren't publishable words, or even if we turn around and delete them, at least they were written!

  7. I agree-->I'm proud of my word counts and flow. I'm also proud that my dialogue has improved...NOT SAYING THAT THEY ARE AWESOME but compared to my first attempts, yikes! Holy awkward! O_o