Growing Pains in a Writing Career

growing and improving sure ain't easy!

growing and improving sure ain’t easy!

I wrote in a post about lessons after finishing an editing pass that I’ve noticed through the years and five novels that my writing is definitely improving over time.

Now, while that’s a good thing, the fact is that practice should always make people better at something.  That’s what should happen; it’s nothing rare. If your fifth book isn’t better written, more complex, and more engaging than the first one you wrote, that’s a big problem no matter who you are.

The heart of my post is this: this improvement, I’ve come to notice, brings problems of its own. While I wrote and edited three novels before I released anything, it’s nonetheless very difficult for me to look through the documents that contain my early novels, because I end up seeing lots of things I want to change. It makes me debate whether I’d be wiser to re-edit and put up new editions of my published novels, or whether I should work on other, newer projects. (I choose new ones. The current ones. The temptation to re-edit is just my perfectionism talking…. I have four and five star reviews for my first published novels, so while they’re far from perfect, I have to take that as evidence that they’re nothing to be embarrassed about.)

I have to think every writer experiences this. As you gain experience and improve at the craft, it makes sense that you’d want to go back and redo, or “fix up,” your earlier work. It’s only natural. Every writer should always be determined to produce the best work within his or her power, or what are you doing writing? Still, it’s frustrating and painful. (Granted, it’s not AS bad as when I look back at the undergrad papers I wrote in Spanish. Now THAT is painful. If I ever wonder whether I wrote as poorly as my students, I have the evidence to remind me. For sure.)

I was just wondering how other people deal with this confidence-sucker? If you want to comment, feel free to leave your thoughts. If you’d rather not, at least now you know you’re not alone 🙂 I’m there too!

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2 responses to “Growing Pains in a Writing Career

  1. I am about to start editing my first ever full length book and I’m kind of dreading it. It’s non-fiction, but still, I’ve gotten SO much better at writing than I was 2 years ago when I wrote it (that was 6 novels and a screenplay ago!). I know a lot will have to be revised, but that, too, will be easier now. On my novels, I don’t go back. Like you, I know people have enjoyed them, and that I’m improving, so I just keep looking ahead. If you read best selling novelists’ first books you see the same thing, so at least we’re in good company. 😀

    • you are so right, Jennings! Everyone improves as they go. It’s just hard to put the perfectionism aside, isn’t it? Good luck editing your nonfiction! 🙂 I always hated editing the nonfiction I wrote for my classes

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