The right outlook makes a big difference during revisions!


How many July days have you needed to keep a lamp lit the entire day? I clicked the switch on as I entered the family room yesterday morning and turned it out fifteen hours later.  The entire time I needed extra light to keep the day’s grey gloom at bay.

The morning sky slouched into the trees, letting wisps of mist settle between branches. Later the mist became drizzle, and moisture accumulated until it trickled from the deck umbrella.

The forecast for today was no better, and as I planned for this post I contemplated my collection of photos, wondering what might brighten another cheerless day. Perhaps this rhododendron, taken as it basked in Saturday’s sunshine.

But it didn’t reflect the dreary truth, so I grabbed the camera and ventured out into the rain, expecting to capture a soggy, bedraggled bloom to throw onto the page. Instead, I found rain-washed glory, and liquid diamonds.

Raindrops captured in a spider's web

My outlook was typical of my approach to the novel revision that currently bugs me. I’m not pleased with some of the scenes and it’s tempting to think there’s nothing worth salvaging. I mull over them day after day, moody and miserable, convinced the writing is pedantic. I decide the only thing to do is delete the scenes and rewrite from scratch, but when I open the file and take an in-depth look, I discover unexpected gems that are worth saving, bright spots that convince me they belong in the story.

Often, when the Inner Critic is being persuasive about the terrible caliber of our writing, it’s our own perspective that’s skewed. Instead of dwelling on the negatives maybe we need to take a break, adjust our attitude, refocus, and determine to look for the bits of genius (don’t laugh… I’m trying to be positive here) that are worth saving.

Do emotions affect your perception of the quality of your writing? How do you keep your moods in check so you can be more unbiased? Or do you perhaps use your moods to help you colour particular scenes?


“The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure,
the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season,
and to bless all the work of thine hand.”
[Deuteronomy 28:12a KJV]


Writing Insecurities


On Twitter last night I read DD Shari Green’s tweet, “964 words. Some of them don’t suck.

Then on the Writer Unboxed blog I encountered Debbie Ohi’s delightful cartoon…

The cartoon evoked so many comments along the line of, “You must be living in my head!” and “Have you been spying on me?” that a thought stood up and began waving its arms at me… the thought that at some point most writers must feel insecure about their writing.

I know I do. I think I’m a reasonably decent writer, but when I read my work-in-progress I know without a doubt that it’s gosh awful. After I revise, rework, rewrite until my eyes cross, it’s only marginally better, and I despair of ever creating a novel worth reading.

Then along comes a compliment from an unlikely source, and hope stirs a tender sprout that begins to work its way out of my shriveled core. Uncertain. Seeking the light of acceptance, but squinting, just in case it’s looking in the wrong direction. Maybe… just maybe… my story doesn’t completely suck.

That’s the stage I’m at now. How about you? Do writing insecurities ever get you down?

Update: There is also a good post on this topic at K.M. Weiland’s blog: “10 Steps for Working Past the ‘This Stinks’ Blues“.