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November 13th, 2009

Growing as a writer

I have to say, it is really, truly rewarding to see myself grow as a writer. And not always in the ways I'd expected.

Once upon a time, I thought revising meant using spell check and fixing punctuation. I slowly learned that's not the case, and eventually came to understand the basics. Through revising THE JETSETTER'S SOCIAL CLUB, that ill-fated novel that got me my first (and second) agent, I learned about audience, about conflicts, about dialogue tags, about how to say what you mean in six words instead of ten.

Through revising PRADA & PREJUDICE, I learned about story arcs and tension. While revising YOU WISH, I've learned about plotting, bringing each story arc together at the same moment.

At some point, I really thought all these things I was learning was going to make my first drafts better. I imagined myself penning a masterpiece, lightly revising, and consdering it fit for the world.

I've come to realize it's the opposite. The firmer my grasp becomes on this whole writing thing, the more aware of flaws I am. Instead of finishing the first draft and thinking I just have one or two things to do, I have a laundry list of things to fix. There was a time I could share a first draft and get valuable feedback. Now, I see *SO* many holes in my drafts that i know I must fix them before sending them off for feedback. I mean, would you slap paint on your house in various, random spots and then ask someone what they think of the paint job? Probably not.

I don't know I've I'll ever become a better writer. But I know I've become a better reviser. And you know what? I'd rather be a really crappy writer and a fantastic reviser than vice versa.

My point? Try not to get down about your first, second, or third draft. Know that writing is a process, not something that just happens. If you can just get to the finish line on that first draft, you'll have something to work with. Something to build and sculpt and perfect.

Resist the urge to write and then just delete everything you wrote becuase it's not good enough. First drafts don't have to be good. They just have to be *THERE*.
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You Wish is in its Fifth Printing! and Prada and Prejudice is in its Sixth Printing!


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