A Few Things I've Learned This Year (So Far) About Writing

Monday, March 14, 2022
Let's put my writing in the spotlight, shall we?

A quarterly reflection is appropriate, right? Well, I've had some ups and downs with writing this year so far. While publishing fiction seems to be elusive so far, I remain hopeful it will happen soon. Especially since I'm almost to 100 rejections since my last acceptance. 

I thought I'd review a few things I've learned about writing that I've learned so far this year:

Be watchful of writing weaknesses.

Character development can be problematic for me. For others, maybe it's finishing the story at all. For others, maybe it's the revision process that gets in their way. As for mine, it's something I'm aware of as I start new stories. Since I lean more towards being a "pantser," that means my discovery of the character can happen much later. This can often mean a long revision process, which is what I struggled with recently. However, yesterday I ran into a story I had wanted to finish at the time, but it remain stalled halfway through. So, I took a new approach, which leads to my next lesson:

Be open to changing your methods.

At the start of most stories, I take my usual "pantsing" approach. For those unfamiliar with the term, that means no outlining, basically. However, with that story I found, I wanted to finish it but couldn't just meander around without knowing where I was going beforehand. It would result in more starts and stops (which I had already attempted many times with that particular story). 

So, I outlined. I couldn't believe it, but it worked. I even found a purpose for my main character that added a unique dynamic to the story. Let me tell you though, I didn't use a long outlining method but it was basically the Snowflake method. And I used the technique described over at a blog I follow called, The Write Practice.

I won't replace my pantsing approach with new stories. Yet, for the ones that are stuck halfway through, I'm  going to go back and outline like this.

Use the tools you can to improve your writing.

I've recently started using ProWritingAid to improve my writing. It's a great way of identifying grammar and spelling issues, missing words, and overly used words. It even highlights when I've started sentences the same way in a row. Most recently, it helped me revise a story left by the wayside for a while, and is now officially back in the revision process. There's a multitude of tools you can use, and I encourage you to give some a try. Many writers use Grammarly, Scrivener, or other software that helps them craft their work. 

Consider the critiques of your work.

I write for my day job, and recently was called out for "run-on sentences." It made me wonder. I'm sure in this blog post, there are several run-on sentences. Who knows. But in my stories now, I look for long sentences. I've even begun to restructure scenes with short sentences if it contains a lot of action.

Not too long ago, I got feedback on a story of mine that stung. Among other things (which I felt were said to me in a very rude way), it called me out for using the same emotional descriptive language in the same paragraph. It didn't help me I caught the same description in another book I had been reading (which wasn't very good, by the way) As a result, you'll likely never see me use "filled with the sense of dread" ever again. 

What I've discovered is that it's good to at least consider the critiques of your work. Remember, I didn't say to believe it and follow it, especially since some people are just jerks, but at least consider it. Remove yourself a little bit from the sting of the feedback. Then after weeks go by, swish the idea around in your mouth like mouthwash, then spit it out. Was there any truth to that critique? If not, move on. If so, don't dwell too long on trying to please that specific person, but focus on ways you can improve this area they've pointed out.

Well, that's it so far! Pretty good lessons, huh?

What have you learned this year about your writing?


Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Ugh - the snowflake method. As visual as I am, I don't understand why it doesn't seem to work for me.

But I think that's one of our biggest lessons. You need one set of techniques and I need others.

I love that you learned that you need a new fix for every project. So true. We definitely need to remain open about new ways of doing things.

What have I learned? Be open to inspiration. Try new things even if you think you might not be good at them. Which means that at some point, I may have to revisit the snowflake method (which I call mind-mapping).

Myna said...

Just a quick response to say I also love ProWriting Aid!

Nicole Pyles said...

Yeah I feel like I'd only use this message for a story I got stuck on halfway through! I love your lesson too! It's very important to try something new!

Nicole Pyles said...

Yay! Another fan! It's one I really recommend.

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