Writers must take risks. Personally I hate those little motivational quotes that seem to flood through the twitter timelines of the writing community. Are there a lot of procrastinors out there, delaying the moment of getting down to it by searching for pithy emoticon-strewn one-liners?
Being a good writer is not about nailing it first time. It’s about not giving up until a piece is polished to perfection.
Thank you. I know. But how?
Easy reading is damned hard writing. (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
Thank you. I know. But what does ‘hard’ mean? How do you write harder?
The successful writer listens to himself. (Frank Herbert)
Thank you. Are all writers men? And what on earth does this mean in practice? And here’s my all time unfavourite:
Smiling is the best way to face any problem, to crush any fear and to hide any pain.
Not helpful. Smiling has not helped me edit one single sentence. Why do people write this stuff? I probably have to accept it comes with roaming in twitterland.
Despite my impatience with this stuff, the quotes that resonate with me are the ones about taking risks. Anne Rice says it:
Here’s my risk – blogging, that is going public, about an on-line writing course I have signed up for. I plan to write about my aims and purposes, about the processes and the outcomes. It’s that virtuous learning cycle of Do, Review, Learn and Apply for those of you in the education world. And risk can be a good learning strategy. Although I’m keen not to make a fool of myself.
Preparation for the course – clarifying my purposes.
The course blurb boils down to an intention to help writers develop self-editing skills. It begins in January 2015 and last for 6 weeks.
Some introductory explanation:
A long-term reader of this blog may have wondered what has happened to my novel. Is it still in the drawer, resting its way to perfection? Has the success of Retiring with Attitude since its publication in July 2014 led me to abandon the novel? Has it quietly been improved and is now ready for whatever the next thing is? No to all of those.
I had completed the first draft of the novel. All first drafts are ‘shitty’ according to Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird. She was quoting Hemingway. Little of my first daft was raw, first splurge stuff, but I was still conscious that it was not yet ready to be shown to anyone. It needed work.
So I read through it. And I made notes. I began to work through different plot lines. I made notes. I read parts of the chapters to my writing groups that relate to one of the two protagonists. They commented. I made notes. And I say to myself, I don’t really know how to go about this revision. But I have lots of notes.
I want to make my novel the best it can be before sending it to a literary critique service. But after all the actions I have described above, it is clear to me that I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do next. Intelligence is knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do, according to the educationalist Guy Claxton.
So here are my aims for the course:
- To acquire the skills I need to move my novel on to the next stage.
- To practise these self-editing skills.
- To begin to identify the tasks and approaches I need to attend to to move my novel on.
- To identify specific tasks I need to undertake related to these aspects: plot, character, voice, point of view and prose.
- To connect with other writers through the Cloud who are involved in the same processes.
- To blog about the experiences at least once more.
My very first task is to find out how to get to the course on-line. It looks daunting but I must be able to do it. I set up a blog for goodness sake. The tutors advise familiarisation and practice in advance. My faith in them develops. Not only are they published writers but they seem to know a bit about learning to write and learning on-line.
Wish me luck and no procrastination. This is it. *Moves cursor to enter website.* Six weeks of writing and editing to the discipline of another’s drum. I’ll let you know how I get on. I’m smiling, by the way.
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