What You Write First Will Need Revision

Writing is a solitary activity. Sometimes it’s hard to accept that the first words written aren’t the best words for the final piece.

I was first published in the mid-1970s and have loved words and writing ever since. Here are a few tips I’ve collected that you might want to consider when you’re faced with going back over your manuscript to see what needs revision.

  • Write simply and clearly. Beginning writers often run the risk of falling in love with their prose. Offer the reader a clear and enjoyable reading experience instead of showing off your command of obscure words/phrases.
  • Realize that every new project is a challenge. The problems you faced (whether the problems are in the story, the character, the organization, the descriptions used, etc.) in your last project differ from those you’re facing in your current project. See each project with new eyes, even though you’re drawing on experience when you work on it.
  • Show the story instead of showing off. Consider how you would tell the story to a friend and start there. You’ll write differently when you think about your best friend reading your writing.
  • Be willing to let your subconscious take over when you’re stuck on a word or searching for an idea. Some of the best things come to us when we don’t force them.
  • Accept that every writer is really two people: (1) creator and (2) editor. Allow your creator to be the person he/she needs to be to get the words out, then call in your editor to do what he/she does best (improve your writing).
  • Give yourself permission to write first and edit later. Avoid falling into that terrible trap of telling yourself something (sentence, description, word choice, etc.) isn’t as good as it could be. So what if it isn’t? You can go back and make it better, but you can only do that if you get it down first. The more fun you have getting your original writing down, the better foundation you’ll have to work on when you edit.
  • Read your words out loud. Writers groups do that because hearing the words (rather than simply seeing them on paper) can point out problems with word choice, dialogue, and can even find typos in your manuscript.
  • Read the types of things you want to write. You want to write mysteries? Read them. You want to write biographies? Read them. Self-help books? Read them. Good cooks know what makes a good recipe. Good writers know what makes a good read.

I trust you’ll find something in this collection of tips to help you. As you grow in your writing career, you’ll risk rejection and failure, but you’ll also realize reward and respect on many levels. Happy writing!

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