Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Keep Improving

One of the first things I learned at the first conference I attended was this: good writers keep improving. Every published author that I spoke to at that conference had something to say about it.

One best-selling author said every book in his series gets better. "If you can get through the first one, you'll love the rest."

Another kept trying to convince me to buy her latest book instead of starting at the beginning.

Consistently, every one of them thought their most recent work was better than their first.

I think this is the most important rule of writing. Keep learning. Keep improving. It is a major challenge to strive to make each paragraph better than the last--but that is why we do re-writes and edits. I know that by the time I finish a book, I've improved my skill from when I started it. So I go back and make it all as shiny as the end.

Writers improve in different ways. Some challenge themselves and do writing exercises. Others read--a LOT. Still others have read every book on writing ever printed. I do a combination of the three, and I think it works for me.

What do you do? How do you improve?

10 comments:

  1. That's why edits take so long, because you realize half way through that you need to fix something. After you've fixed the rest of the novel, you go back to the beginning then halfway through you figure something else out. It's a constant merry go round, but also encouraging.

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  2. This is so true. I did find that my writing improved with every paragraph. To keep learning and growing as a writer, I read a lot of books on the craft. I read a lot of blogs on the craft. And when I do my edits and revisions, I try to decide whether each sentence is as good as I am capable of making it. It takes so much time, but I think it is worth it in the end.

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  3. I definitely agree. Improvement is imperative in writing. And for must of us, it shows. That's why most of the time, it makes sense to work on a few or even several manuscripts before sending them to agents or publishers.

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  4. I do the same three things, but I'm finding that the more I learn, the more I understand how much is still LEFT to learn.

    Discouraging, no?

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  5. This is just an important approach to life in general! I hope I always keep improving. For me, the more I work, the better I can pick out what I like to what I don't like. Like I'm more sensitive to bad writing. So, I guess my answer is that I try to be as in tune to my subtle reactions as I can.

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  6. I definitely agree with the reading a lot advice. That has definitely made me better.

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  7. I totally agree! I know I will probably cringe at the stuff I write now in ten years. I already feel nauseous whenever I open a manuscript from six months ago or more. I'm just hoping someday I can look back at my work and feel good about it.

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  8. What's hard for me is that I often feel like my old writing is "bad" just because my new writing is better. I want to be satisfied with something I write someday, but since I'm continually improving, I'm not sure how that's ever going to happen!

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  9. Wow guys! Awesome comments... want to do a blog post for me? lol

    Seriously :D I'm in awe of my commentors. *applauds*

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  10. I just keep writing and hoping. And that's it. So far it's working.

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