Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Insecure Writer and Lessons Learned


Today is July's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?

Worrying that my vacation this week isn't going to be long enough. So this month I'll settle for answering the question of the month.

What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

That's a hard one for me. I've learned so much over the years, there are too many to choose from. Here's my short list: 

1.  One of my first lessons had to do with showing and telling. I had no clue what "telling" was back at the beginning, and it took me years of practice before I could recognize it with regularity. Yay! Then, after a couple of years, I learned it was possible to show too much and eased back on it a little. 

2.  I used to think mortals like me could never dream up enough words to fill a 300 page book. Now I've learned the importance of cutting back and tightening my writing so my stories don't balloon into magnum opuses. 

3.  I used to be so obsessed with the rules of writing that I put off finding a critique partner for years because I was positive they'd be horrified with all the rules I broke, many of them without realizing it. These days, I understand the rules are more like guidelines. Heck, sometimes I break the rules just to see how my critique partners react. 

So when it comes down to it, I guess my most valuable lesson learned was the importance of having critique partners. With their guidance, my writing has grown tremendously over the years.  If you don't have a critique partner yet, get one. Reading books on craft and attending conferences help, but nowhere near as much as having another set of eyes on your work. You don't know what you don't know.   

If I had to do it all over again, I'd find a critique partner as soon as possible.

How about you? Are any of you still looking for critique partners?



ChemistKen




23 comments:

  1. I value my critique partners, that's for sure.
    It took me a while to figure out the difference between showing and telling. I found a book by Jessica Bell that gave examples and then it finally clicked.

    ReplyDelete
  2. There is nothing like feedback to let you know you're on the right track. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    ReplyDelete
  3. All excellent lessons. I was lucky to land a FABULOUS critique partner ten years ago, after much searching. We have both grown so much since then and branched off our separate ways, but we do occasionally come back to one another. It's all about the relationships we develop along the path, eh?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yeah, I need to find one or more critique partners. I used to have a local critique group, but it fell apart.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Critique partners are the BEST. And it took me forever to discern what was telling. Thankfully, I'm getting better at it...

    ReplyDelete
  6. That is an important lesson to learn. I could always use a few more critique partners. Getting myself to stop worrying about breaking rules was also an important lesson for me.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've been very fortunate to have a long-standing critique group who are hard, fair, honest and compassionate. I couldn't keep going without them.

    Your lessons are great ones to have learned. Congrats on that.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've been lucky to find some really good critique partners and beta readers. So important to have those! My writing is much better for it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Having great CPs is vital. I had to learn years ago to cut back and be more concise with my words too. These days, I must watch not to be too tight!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yes, showing versus telling was one thing I had to learn; also, to avoid "author intrusion". Ya know, you think, 'I'm gonna write my story' and off you go, not understanding what the heck you're doing. LOL And, after you've written a bit (after you've learned a few rules), you read back over what you've written and get so embarrassed! LOL

    But it's all part of growing...and CP's are an awesome tool! :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I had to learn how to cut back. The second book of my NA series was originally 205,000+ words. Bit much, don't you think? I ended up hacking out a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My husband is my critique partner, and boy is he critical! Which helps, even though I complain.

    ReplyDelete
  13. CPs and beta readers are a life saver for me. They point out all the things I miss and didn't think of.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I laughed at number three. Is there a business idea in there? Critique partner testing? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I had spent too much time worrying about critique partners, I wasn't really learning from the "text books" anymore. I've returned to reading about story telling and writing and am reading a lot of amazing stuff that's helping me with my writing game tremendously. Balance in all things, I guess.

    ReplyDelete
  16. So true, Ken. Yet, I had 3 different people read my first 3 chapters for advice, to see if I was on the right track. Then, I had 3 absolutely different opinions. That was hard to figure out. I tend to overwrite too, and I need to tighten up my manuscript.
    Good Post!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I've had some wonderful crit partners - and totally agree with you. They are the key to growth and learning!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I agree about the value of a critique partner, but you made me chuckle in your observations of growing as a writer. That first you learned to fill a book with words and then you learned to cut it back. So true!

    ReplyDelete
  19. All great lessons - especially the rules just being guidelines. I drove myself crazy before I figured that out. It's easy to get so lost in rules you can't even write!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Showing and telling, yep, I did more of the latter at the start too. Pffft to some of the rules we say at our bay lol

    ReplyDelete
  21. Those critique partners are so important.

    And good to hear that you learned it was possible to show too much.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Oh yes, about the rules. I learned readability is the most important rule and all the other rules should be broken if need be to serve rule #1.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Rules, just when you learn one, you break another one - or at least I do!! :)
    Still, there is nothing that's more fun, immensely satisfying or aggravating, and constantly changing. I love it! :)

    ReplyDelete

There was an error in this gadget