Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Whether to finish what we've already written or to start something new?

If you're like me, you're always wanting to go on to something new to write about--a new story or novel or poem. The question becomes should you, or should you polish what you've already written and start trying to get it published before going on to something new?

Obviously, it's not an easy question to answer flatly 'yes' or 'no.' The excitement we feel in starting something new can't be denied. It's one of the reasons we write. We always think this new story is 'my best ever.' And it may be. And it may be a delusion. I've been writing a long time, and that's the way I did it for years and years. I have written perhaps ten or more first drafts of novels. It's only in the past ten years or so that I've begun to polish, polish, polish. It's definitely not as much fun. But it is rewarding in its own way. Besides seeing the folly of some of what I originally wrote, I've become more professional in my approach. I've learned the value of patience and tenacity. And my chances of getting published are increasing. (I feel sure very few people have written a one- or two- draft novel that became published without more work.) Rewriting gives us the best chance to learn how to write. Seeing our mistakes, inaccuracies, poor word choice, poor dialogue, poor description, poor plotting, poor choices between telling and showing, and on and on, teaches us better than any other method. Just going on to the next novel or story, then the next and the next, without completing anything, teaches you very little.
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