There is a thought, that as a writer, we are undertake a very solitary endeavor. Many a person pictures themselves holed up in a cabin in the Smoky’s (or Rockies or whatever mountain range you live near) sitting in front of a huge picture window while typing away on an old Olivetti 21.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s very necessary to get away from the phone, television, kids, traffic, housework, grocery shopping, and other distractions. So getting away to a good place to write is a must. However, I am finding that the journey itself is far less remote than I previously thought. And I am truly thankful for that.
Some writers believe that what they pen on first draft is the most awesome work they’ve ever written and that the rest of the world will think so as well.
Then there are those of us, who think it’s great while we’re writing the rough draft, then we doubt our sanity during the editing processes. After a while, the words become so automatic that each time we read them, we no longer see the misspelled words, missing punctuation, and switches between tenses (I’m good for that one.)
This is where other wonderful people come into play. I have found that when I let my brother, with his red pen, and one of my closest friends,who is also a writer, read one of my short stories, they see how great it is, but they also see every single error. Believe it or not, I actually love this. They help me become a better writer by telling me the truth about my mistakes.
As a writer, we have to have a thick skin and be very willing to have someone else show us our blunders. If not, we will never improve, and most likely, never publish.
Now granted, by nature, writers are the creative, moody, eccentric types that lean toward tendencies of serious sensitivity. However, we have to get over that last part if we ever hope to sign copies of our books for fans, much less see our work in print.
One of the biggest pet peeves I have, is when I read a book, blog or website and see that there are some seriously messed up grammatical errors. If I, as a reader, am going to spend time or money, I want the architect to have taken the time to put out something of excellence. If they do not, I feel cheated and to some degree, disrespected.
If we want people to buy our works, then the last thing we want to do is cheat or dis them. But more importantly, we are cheating and disrespecting ourselves as writers when we do not take all precautions to make sure that our work is as close to perfect as possible. One or two mistakes in an entire novel is expected; however, if the reader can’t get through the first page because of all of the goofs, then we do them and ourselves a huge disservice.
So how do we fix this? Well, first we come to terms with the fact that we are not perfect, are prone to mistakes and need the help of other eyes and brains to help us create the best experience possible.
Second, be open to constructive criticism and correction. This will mean finding persons you can trust to tell you the truth. It also helps, if they are either writers themselves or have a discerning editorial eye. If it’s easier for you to give this responsibility to strangers, then there are free writing groups and online communities that you can join. Writing.com is the one that I use and so far, I’ve had a very positive experience.
Third, and we’ll discuss this point in more detail next week, we need to discover our Achilles Heels. These are specific types of mistakes that we make on a regular basis that, if not corrected, will lead to our demise as writers. Once we have someone who is editing for us, they can make us aware of those errors so that we can take steps to auto correct them as we write.
If we are truly serious about letting our inner Cussler, Patterson, Poe or Brown out, then we need a willingness to seriously and truly seek editorial comments from others.
Let’s thicken up our skins and purpose to excel in our endeavors. Like my daddy always says, “If you ain’t gonna do it write (pun intended), then why do it at all?”
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