word craft


What it takes

I Heart ReWritingOne of the hard­est things about writ­ing is learn­ing to like what you are writ­ing. Why should this be? I sus­pect it’s because you came to writ­ing because you loved to read, loved good writ­ing. So you know what good writ­ing is. The process of writ­ing, how­ev­er, means that when you write, your writ­ing is not, at first, going to be good. And you know it.

Nobody, nobody, writes any­thing well the first time. If any­one tells you oth­er­wise, don’t believe it. As I often tell stu­dents, if you write some­thing, and you think it’s good, you are in trou­ble. Write some­thing and know it’s not very good, and you are on your way. This means that it is per­fect­ly under­stand­able that when you sit down to work, there’s an inter­nal groan, a reluc­tance to engage. Why? Because you sense your work is no good. And you are right! It is only by push­ing for­ward, with dis­ci­pline, dili­gence, and yes, courage, that you can begin to shape your work into some­thing you can respect, and even­tu­al­ly like.

My good friend and fine writer, Bet­ty Miles, once con­fessed that it took her some six months work­ing on a book before she felt like a writer. Learn­ing to be patient with yourself—and your work—is oblig­a­tory for writers.

1 thought on “What it takes”

  1. I agree. It seems the hard­est part is gag­ing what to change when edit­ing. I seem to have trou­ble know­ing what should be com­plete­ly cut and what should stay for the good of the sto­ry and the read­ers’ enjoyment.


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