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Improving as a writer



As budding writers, we don’t often take the time to acknowledge that we are improving as a writer. But we should.

Since submitting my first finished manuscript to publishers and playing the waiting game, I’ve been editing another manuscript I’ve had sitting in the bottom drawer (literally!) This was the first full novel I ever wrote. It began in NaNoWriMo in 2012 in a flurry of words, an idea that took on a life of its own.

I remember when I finished it how amazing I felt. I’d done it! I’d written a novel!

Of course in my naive, inexperienced head I thought it was the best thing ever written. So much so, that I sent it off for a manuscript assessment. The first draft. Yes. I know. *shakes head* I cringe now thinking how unbelievably stupid that was. Obviously the assessment I received back was harsh. So harsh, it almost broke me.

But, I sucked it up (after a long break and lots of comfort chocolate), and long story short, I am now in the sixth draft. I’ve worked through it, put it aside, and worked through it again. It’s still a draft short of being ready for other eyes, but knowing I love a deadline, I have booked in to send it to my freelance editor at the beginning of April 2018.

Coming back to this draft after about a year of not laying eyes on it, the thing I’ve realised is… I think I’m getting better at this writing thing.

Better at writing. Better at crafting sentences. Better at knowing what’s working and what’s not. I can read a sentence now and rework it by changing a few words to make it read so much better.

This year has been a one of progress for me.  A year that has seen my words up on billboards, receive an HM in a short story competition, and also be longlisted in another short story competition. They’re only little things, but little things add up to big things. And these little things mean I am learning. I am making progress!

Working through my manuscript, I can see the little things that make a difference to my writing. Tightening the POV by seeing only through the character’s eye, adding in senses of smell, touch, sound, sight, and taste, and changing the tone of a word to better suit the mood, voice or emotion. All of these things are becoming more natural.

Sure, there are some huge structural changes my manuscript needs (which are the hardest kind of changes), but I’m also improving in being able to see the problems. Although how to fix them still often alludes me! Still, the finer details, the nuances, are coming more natural to my writing. All the while, honing my voice and style.

It’s not often we as pre-published writers take a moment to acknowledge that we are improving. So today, I’m acknowledging how far I’ve come, how much I’ve learned, and how I can see it making a difference in my writing. And the only thing that does that – is practice. Writing. Writing. Writing!

So, if you’re an aspiring, unpublished author, make sure you acknowledge your improvement along the way. Look back at early drafts, and see how your writing has progressed, and notice what things come more naturally to you. It just might be the thing to help you finish that next draft.