Nov 5, 2012

Recognizing our Growth

Writing is a tricky thing sometimes.  If we were all embarking on an athletic endeavor, there would be timed tests and ways to see an increase in strength.  This is a bit more difficult to assess in writerland.

But it is something we need to try to do anyway.  We need to see that the work is worth it.  For instance, I have some writer buddies doing NaNoWriMo who have already passed the 20k mark.  We are on day five people!  I have about as much of a chance of accomplishing this as catching a touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers.

Growth as writers, however, is about more than the speed of word count. When I was plotting my novel for NaNoWriMo, I realized that this time around, with a new story, I could think of deeper conflicts, was aware of ways to create a story that could unfold better the first time around rather than the second or third.  One of my characters in an early draft of a book liked books.  That was her character profile.

The real reason for this post, though, is to help us remember to notice these things.  We are our own indicator of getting better, our own judge of the increased strength of our writing. I firmly believe these are things we need to pay attention to, for our own sanity if nothing else.  Because while writing faster than Usain Bolt runs the 100 meter is great, there are only going to be a few who can do that.  But that doesn't mean the rest of us aren't great as well.

What guidelines to you use to determine the improvement of your own writing?  Have you had those moments when you get a little giddy when you have seen the growth?

13 comments :

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I can see it in my own work. I know where I need to improve for each book. Coupled with critique feedback, I can see the growth happening.
When I participated in NaNo 2010, one of my blogger buddies hit the 50,000 word mark in less than five days. I felt like a slug!

Julie Luek said...

Thought-provoking post and something I've been contemplating. I wrote my MS last year in a couple, elated months. In my eagerness, I committed the newbie mistake and contacted agents. Of course, I garnered an impressive collection of rejects. I let it sit and read, read and read some more great books on the craft. Oh how I learned. I'm working on revisions now, much more aware, but much less blissfully ignorant. Now I'm scared by how much I still don't know!

Shell Flower said...

Going through revisions and critique has really helped me see where I need to improve. Usually one of the main critiques I get is that I am too nice to my characters and give them what they need too easily. I'm learning to improve my writing by making my characters "earn it" the hard way. Conflict is good.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm the same as Alex. Plus I know my writing is growing when I read books and blog posts and already know that stuff. :D Comments from contests and agents help too.

Emily R. King said...

Wise words. It's encouraging to look back and see how far I've come. I need to do it more often. Reading something I wrote years ago helps me do this. Man, did it suck.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I pulled out an old, many times rejected story a few months ago, I noticed how much I grew.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I've done a whopping 2100 words. I guess I'm the slacker in the NaNo pile.

JeffO said...

I can't really say what guidelines I use; what I do know is when I did my first read for my most recent manuscript, it felt much cleaner than my first read for my previous manuscript. So, I guess there's some improvement there.

And it's good to remind yourself not to get overly hung up on what everyone else is doing. Work at the pace that works for YOU.

Andrew Leon said...

I am not for speed in writing. In my experience (not with myself), great speed=great unquality.
Yes, I made that up.

prerna pickett said...

Speed writing for me comes and goes, there are ups and downs with writing just like life. Seeing my improvement means opening up a word doc. from a year ago. It really is fun to see that I HAVE gotten better. Writing is a learning process and we need to keep practicing in order to get better.

Suzanne Furness said...

If I look back even 6 months at my work I can see improvement. My knowledge and confidence has grown so much. I guess that's the thing about writers, we are always learning and growing. Refining our skills. Great post :)

Jessie Humphries said...

I dont know, sometimes I think I suck just as bad as when I started and it's all the help I get from CP's and betas that make it decent at all. Seriously.

Joshua said...

I had something more eloquent to say, but for some reason I'm of the mindset today where I see the word "growth" and a picture of a measuring tape...you can see where I'm going with this. I need a nap.