One Writer’s Journey

July 27, 2018

When What You Write Isn’t Great, Don’t Ignore That Nagging Feeling

Honestly, you could pour me into a bucket tonight. It isn’t that I’m that relaxed.  I’m that wiped out.

As I write this on Thursday evening, I’ve just met a deadline for an outline and sample chapter.  Easy peasy mac-n-cheesy as my friend Renee says.  I write for Abdo.  I know what they want.

Usually.

This series is different from their others.  So different and new that it is new even to my editor. In fact, I’m writing the first book in the series. I’m the guinea pig . . . trend setter.  Who am I kidding?  Guinea pig.

My husband read the chapter for me and pronounced it “fine.”  But something was nagging at me.  “No.  It is not.  It kind of stinks.”  I wanted to listen to my husband.  I wanted to package it up and send it in and let me editor find the problem.

So first I did a hard copy-edit on the outline.  Then I finished the bibliography.  Finally, with the deadline hard behind, I pulled up the chapter.

Yep, still stinking.  But this time I could tell what was wrong.  I’m writing about a topic that, while important, is less familiar to me than some others.  As I wrote about it, I realized that I actually knew quite a bit but I still felt insecure.  I needed to sound like I knew what I was talking about.  Heaven save us from all that is overwritten and purple.

Instead of doing the hard copy-edit I had planned on, it was back to my computer.  Three of the four sidebars only needed minor tweaks.  The feature at the end of the chapter lost only a few words.  Working with the main body of the text, I moved phrases, cut sentences and smoothed, smoothed and smoothed some more.  By the time I was done I had bumped up the reading level, which I needed to do, and crafted a much more coherent, readable piece.

When you have that nagging feeling that something stinks, don’t take the easy way out.  Go on a hunt until you find the source of the problem.

–SueBE

 

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June 28, 2017

It Stinks! What to do when you can’t stand what you wrote

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:15 am
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Every now and again it happens to the best of us.  You work and work on an article, blog post or chapter and . . . you just have to face it.  It stinks.  Can it be saved?

Maybe yes, maybe no.  But the first thing to do is walk away.

The blog post that I originally wrote for Tuesday was a dud.  Flat.  Listless.  I knew it wasn’t any good but I was just sick of it so I went ahead and finished the formating and scheduled it to go live.  Then I got up from my desk and did a few chores.  After loading the dryer and spreading the air plants out on a towel, I had gained just enough distance from the piece to know what was wrong.

A lot of the time when I don’t like something I’ve written, it is because I’m trying to force it in the wrong direction.  X might have inspired the piece but X is not the direction in which my piece should go.  Unfortunately, we writers can get strange when things don’t go as planned.  Instead of recognizing that the plan might stink, we fight it.  Don’t do that.  Let. It. Go.

Sometimes the problem is that we are tired.  We are so tired that we are like crabby kids.  Again, that’s when the break comes in handy.  Take a nap.  Get some rest.  Come back after you’ve recharged.  Does it still stink?  Can you see the problem or a possible fix?

Often, we are tempted to ignore that nagging feeling.  Just sending it in would be more efficient – right?  And efficiency is good – right?  Efficiency is good but unfortunately writing is not always efficient.  Sorry!   Often when I’ve ignored the feeling that something didn’t work, then my editor comes back to me.  “This part right here?  It doesn’t work.”  Yeah.  I should have known that.

Writing something that stinks is not a crime.  We all do it.  Just don’t ignore it until someone else points the stink out.

–SueBE

 

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