When I was writing my first story, I thought every word was golden. I thought every moment of my character’s life was worth writing about. And so, I had a lot of wasted words and hardly any forward movement. My stories were big, as you can imagine, but hardly gripping.
Until I grew as a writer.
I’m convinced the best way to grow as a writer is to put your work out there and have others give you honest – sometimes brutal – feedback. The first instinct is to defend yourself and your writing. It makes sense and is a natural reaction. BUT, after several comments leaning the same way – that your work needs to be reworked – it’s time to give credit to at least some of what’s being said.
I used to roll my eyes at my first CP. Actually, she was my former teacher and then my paid editor. She had excellent advice and perception but it was different than mine and so, at first, I dismissed much of it. I thought she simply did not ‘get’ my story. It took quite some time for me to stand back from my work and realize how right she was.
Now… when I put my work out there, I want the honest truth. No pats on the head, no gentle criticism. I think I’ve grown as a writer in that respect, and want only truth in the feedback I receive. After that, it’s up to me to decide if the suggestions or opinions given will enhance or hinder the story I want to tell. Just being open to the possibilities is a major turning point in the life of a writer.
A writer’s ego is a very fragile thing. And yet, while we seek accolades, we – most of us – want them to be honest.
Another way I’ve grown as a writer, is by realizing I need more. Yes, over the years I’ve considered it, but until now, I didn’t do a thing about it. This year will be the start of something, I think. With the New Jersey Conference around the corner and my registration form nearly filled in, I’m making that next big leap in a writer’s life. It’s exciting – which to me, means it’s time. About time.
How have you grown as a writer? Has that professional growth helped you in personal ways as well?