‘Write your first draft with your heart. Re-write with your head.’
From movie Finding Forrester
How true is that statement.
The first draft is always going to be, well… rough. There are going to be grammatical errors; the plot may be weak; the story arc isn’t working; characters names may change during the writing (not that it’s happened to me); show don’t tell, and so on. You get my drift. So what do you do? You attend writers’ workshops. Lots of them. And along the way you learn new skills. You may even decide to complete a course in creative writing, whatever it takes to help you be a better writer.
One of the difficult things I have found in editing my own work is dissociating from it. It is hard being objective when you live and breathe the story. You form a relationship with the characters, get involved with their plight and how they develop over time. With experience you get better and hopefully form a detached outlook towards your writing. It also helps learning from someone who is good at it. I am fortunate because the person I am critiquing with is a journalist and editor.
It hasn’t been easy but my writing has improved as has my objectivity. Don’t get me wrong, I still get a little precious if she says something I don’t like, but after a little while I see what she means. I am currently writing a short story and the writing is so much better, if a little disjointed. However, it is a first draft and as the above quote states, I’m writing with my heart.
Writing is an investment of your soul. Your deepest thoughts, dreams and feelings emerge in the characters, the settings and scenes. All those years spent slavishly spinning a story is a part of you. Those ties are hard to break and like an umbilical cord, the comes a time when you have to cut it and make difficult decisions. It’s time for the story to grow up.
The head must take over.
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Well said! I’m giving myself a six month “no peeking” at my finished novel to see if distance will provide fresh editing eyes.
It does help putting the manuscript to sleep for a while. I also find researching and working on a different story helps too, though really experience at self-editing comes with time. 🙂
It took me three months to disassociate with my novel. Course now I feel like crap because I’ve sold only 7 and given away 900 during the free promotion.
You sold your novel and that is an achievement. Think when you put up your next book, you’ll have 900 people check it out.
This is true, if they liked it 🙂
Great advice. You live and breathe it, so it’s never easy to dissociate. Finding a distraction works well though.
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