Edits and Revisions

#inspiration, life, changeMy latest book in progress was just returned by my editor. I was discouraged by all of the red marks and notations in the columns. I thought I’d sent some of my best work and still most pages required at least one revision.

It’s not easy to accept criticism, no matter how well-intentioned. Even when I hired someone to find and point out my mistakes, I didn’t like it.

My editor is positive and encouraging. She makes suggestions and leaves it up to me whether to implement them. Her role is to inform me of problems she sees and not to force me to make changes. My words shine brighter and have more clarity after following her suggestions. They are still my thoughts, just an improved version.

Can you think of a time you’ve been given helpful advice and took it as a personal attack? I certainly can. It hurt and I didn’t want to hear it. My first instinct was to put up a wall to block it out and protect myself.

Many times I’ve had to take a step back and seriously consider whether this feedback is valid. It is then up to me to decide if I want to discard or act upon it.

I am learning to appreciate those who act in my best interest by pointing out things I may not have been aware of. The process isn’t always pleasant but does have benefits. The revisions I choose to make because of the feedback can help me shine brighter and become an improved version of me.

It Takes Time

#inspiration, writing, practiceMy frustration level was high and I wanted to quit. “It’s no use,” I thought. “I’ve never been artistic and just can’t do this.”

The class I found myself in was not what I expected. Self-criticism was at an all-time high as I muttered inwardly. My work looked nothing like that of the instructor and I wondered if I should attempt to quietly slip out the door so as not to embarrass myself further.

Then the instructor said something that changed my entire outlook. Her words, “Give yourself permission to be a beginner,” were not directed to me but still hit me hard.

Why did I expect to be an expert at a craft I’d never tried before? This was totally unrealistic. Yet, I grew impatient with myself for needing time and practice to accomplish this new skill.

One thing I knew for sure; I would never learn it if I quit trying. It was time to change my mindset.

I thought back to my first attempts at writing. Only by persevering, studying my craft and learning from my mistakes did I start to improve. There is still much to learn but the more I work at it, the better the chance of continued improvement. If I hadn’t given myself permission to be a beginner I would not have discovered the passion I now have for writing.

This year my writing was accepted for publication in three anthologies. Each of these stories was written, refined, edited and rewritten many times before they were ready to be submitted for consideration. My first draft was not good enough. Nor, was the second or third.

Any new skill takes practice and by exploring new things and putting time and effort into them, there’s no telling what new abilities and passions I will discover.

A Kayaker’s Guide to Writing

craft, writing, inspirationMy husband and I are novice kayakers. We’ve been out a few times on a local lake. While learning to maneuver my water craft I realized that much of what I needed to know could also be applied to the craft of writing.

For me one of the most difficult things about kayaking is actually getting into the boat. My fear is that I will tip and end up in the water. Because of this I approach it in a hesitant, awkward manner instead of with confidence.

When I sit to write, the first few words can be the most difficult. Instead of agonizing over them I need to just start. The more I worry about them the better the chance I will become immobilized.

We saw other kayakers on the water. They it made it look so easy with their fluid movements. Mine are nothing like that and I get frustrated. The key is to realize that it takes practice to have control over my boat. It’s unrealistic to expect to master it on the first try.

The craft of writing is the same. Although my writing style may not be as smooth as I’d like, I need to remember that I may not have the same level of experience as writers I admire. The more I practice my craft, the more natural the flow will become.

My husband gave me advice to some of the problems I was having in steering the kayak. Although his intention was to help me, there were times I looked at it as criticism.

Critique in writing is similar. Helpful feedback can make me a better writer. I need to be able to put my ego aside and learn from what others have to tell me.

Another difficult thing for me was the waves created by a passing power boat or jet ski. In order to navigate these safely I needed to turn my kayak to face them head on. If they hit me broadside there was a chance of capsizing. When I turned my back to them I was swept too close to shore.

In writing, rejection is like those waves. I have the option to face it head on and continue. The wave might rock me, but won’t cause permanent damage. If I choose to let it hit me from another direction the effect could either push me backwards or throw me into the waters of despair and defeat.

I was ready to end my paddling adventure for the day but that brought another challenge. Now I had to figure out how to safely get out of the kayak.

Again, this reminded me of writing. My thoughts are all down on paper and I need to find a satisfying conclusion. It must be something that ties everything together without undue repetition.

Maybe what I need to do is go back out on the water and see what inspiration washes over me.

I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 GWT)