A really cool thing happened to me last week. I won my first writing contest. It came as a total surprise as many of the other entries were over-the-top AMAZING!
When I first read the news I was stunned. Then elated, and eventually kind of sick. Sick? Yes, sick, and here’s why: I didn’t think it was my best work. After I submitted my pitch and first 250 pages, I wanted to change things. Tweak words here, add new elements there – for me it still felt like a work in progress (although the ms has been complete for six months!)
What I’ve come to learn is I’m not alone in this feeling. As a writer you always feel like you can do better. You are constantly honing your craft, and trying to make your words bigger, better and stronger.
While many people may shake their heads and ask why? The answer is simple. You want to improve. You want your work to be stunning. But most of all you WANT to please the reader. With each line, you want to captivate them, and hold them in your grasp until they scan that final word on the last page.
The key though is to learn when to stop changing things. When to know when what you’ve put on the page is a true reflection of your idea. For many like me, this can be elusive. As a writer, I want to be sure that everything I put out into the world is perfection, but the reality is that’s not always going to happen. A typo may get by you or a word may be left out. This is life. Sometimes things get missed. But as a writer, you know you have to do everything in your power to get it right.
From reading blog posts and interviews with successful writers, I know this to be true. They are always improving their craft. Seeking out ways to expand their knowledge and create something new and exciting. This is the great thing about writing, it is constantly changing and evolving. The question is, are you as a writer willing to change and improve? Are you going to take risks, and try new categories or genres to spice up your writing resume? Will you attempt something new even though there’s a chance you may fail?
It’s a question I ask myself every day when I sit down at the computer. Can I push myself farther? I hope my answer continues to be yes, because only through changing, and improving, can I hope to be the writer I want and need to be.
As a writer how do you push your craft to the next level? I’d love to hear about it!