Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Getting Better Every Day

Do you ever open up one of your manuscripts from a few years ago (or a few months ago), and cringe at it's awfulness. I do.

I had no idea how to write when I started two years ago. It was just something I wanted to try. Since then writing has become a passion but, even though I'm passionate about it, some days I still don't feel like I know what I'm doing.

On days when I doubt myself I take a look at one of those old manuscripts and smile at how far I've come. The stuff I'm writing now will be better than the stuff I wrote six months ago and that makes me happy.

Do you feel like you're getting better? Those of you who've written for a long time, do you still feel like you're progressing?


15,000 on my NaNo story. It's a good start!

33 comments:

Stephanie Thornton said...

Oh my gosh, yes! I used to have (can't find them right now, but I know they're out there somewhere) some of the earliest stuff I'd ever written. It's from about ten years ago and it's truly awful!

Heck, I even look back on stuff I wrote a year ago and cringe. But that means I'm getting better and that's all that matters, right?

Kristi Faith said...

Congrats on your nano start!! :) I have often looked at old manuscripts too, when I start thinking awful things about my new stories. While I know I still have a way to go, I have definitely come far!

I feel like I learn every day, even if it isn't technique, I'm learning about myself and my writing.

Anita Saxena said...

Definitely YES. I recently read some excerpts from my first novel and YIKES...I put that away quickly. But even though I feel like I am improving, I still have those days where I feel like I'm just pretending to be a writer. Writer...what? I can't call myself that... the term writer is for people that are good- which I am not. Self doubt is like the plague.

Paul said...

I feel like I'm getting better but still experience self-doubt. I think the self-doubt can help push me further if I don't let it overwhelm me.

Valerie Geary said...

Certainly! I laugh thinking about the first novels I wrote. In one of them (that I actually queried for a while before I realized how completely horrible it was) I had 2 (count them... one... two) cleaning scenes. Literally. That's all they were. My main character cleaning. No wait! OMG!!! THERE WERE THREE!!!! (I just remembered the third one right now!!) Anyhoo... let's just say that in my latest project, none of my characters clean. Ever. :)

Susan R. Mills said...

This is the best post I've read today. Knowing that I'm getting better is what keeps me going. I read somehting I wrote even six months ago and I cringe. I've rewritten scenes in my mind as I've read my old work. For me, it's what makes it all worth while.

Girl with One Eye said...

Self doubt, the evil inner voice but it pushes me to learn and grow and my writing has most definitely improved since I began a year ago.

Bane of Anubis said...

Sometimes I feel like I'm getting better, other days, not so much. Unfortunately, when I look back at recent manuscripts I don't see any tangible improvement (though outsiders tell me there is -- probably just being nice) -- which is disconcerting (I do use fewer sentence fragments and em dashes -- at least in my books :)

Bethany Mattingly said...

Great post!! I totally know what you're talking about. Some days, especially with NaNo for some reason, I really feel like I'm moving backwards instead of forwards. I joke with one of my good writing buddies about some of our concepts from our first attempts at writing, quite frequently. :)

Patti said...

I think I'm getting better, I hope I'm getting better, or now what if I'm not. Sorry for that brief moment of self doubt.

I definitely think I'm a better writer than I was even six months ago.

Tabitha Bird said...

I cringe at stuff I wrote last week! I feel like I am getting better with every word. All writing is great practice hey!

Jemi Fraser said...

Yes! It's fun to check back. I keep all the versions of my ms in files on the computer. One day I looked back at the original scene - written over a year before - and laughed my way through it. Full of description, and it started in such a strange place. I feel I've learned a lot :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

That's too funny, because I was just cleaning out my desk this past weekend and almost choked in disgust at my first mansucript. And the query! TERRIBLE!
Oh well. At least I feel I've come a long way from that. I have more to grow, but I do feel like I've made progress. :)

MeganRebekah said...

I just need to turn back to my first couple chapters and laugh at how far I've come. The ideas I have down are good, but that's about it.

Imagine how we'll feel, looking back at our work in five years, or ten years.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I sure hope I am. I'm gaining confidence too and that always helps.
~ Wendy

Renee Collins said...

It helps me gain confidence to see what I did right all the way back then. To say, sure this has big flaws, but you know, it's not half bad. Makes me think that I might have a modicum of natural talent after all.

melane said...

I've only been writing for about two months now, but I can see a big difference already in my work. I think I owe a huge part of that to my wonderful crit group. I've learned soooo much from them!

Beth said...

I'm scared to say it (swallowing the self doubt), but YES I think I'm getting better! :)

Linda Kage said...

I deifnitely feel progress in my writing talent. And I love to look back and see how far I've come. What's even more exciting, is when I look back and think, "you know, this story has some potential," and then I fix it up and make it shine!

L. T. Host said...

Very appropriate post. I had some old stuff up for critique in my class last night. I tried NOT to read it, because it was so outdated. Alas, it still got read, and it was painful.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Always progressing. When I look at some old work...wow. Bad Stuff.

staceyjwarner said...

Writing is so wonderful in that way...you just keep getting better and better, and things make more sense and the basics become easy and intuitive...

much love

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Natalie, how fun to find you on my blog today. Thanks for stopping by and adding me to your following list. Yes, I think writing is a lifelong journey. So long as we have the capacity to do so, we can write. That's a pretty thrilling thought. Also, as a wise friend once reminded me, no writing is wasted. Another wonderfully fulfilling thought, especially on the days when we wonder. And on a personal note: As a fellow children's writer, I really look forward to following you!

Lisa and Laura said...

We're relatively new to writing as well and I do think we're improving with each manuscript. We just had one of our readers comment that they loved our last book, but the WIP is really showing growth. I just hope we keep getting better.

Shelli said...

my old ones are awful - i think im getting better :)

Wendy said...

The part that always gets me, is you don't realize just how awful your old ones are while you're working on them. Now THAT would be helpful!

I look back now and I cringe, oh how I cringe. Even stuff from a few months ago, I look at it and wonder what on earth I was thinking. The good part is knowing you've progressed.

Erica said...

Oh yeah, even just one year ago. I had no idea what I was doing. I did notice that I always favored dialogue, I guess that stuck :)

I think I've grown a bit, not as much as I've wanted, but I'm still pretty new to this. I think practicing will most definitely help, and also networking and reading others stuff.

Let's hope we always grow in our writing!

Hardygirl said...

My old stuff is embarrassing! And, I thought it was awesome. Glad to be a little older and wiser.

sf

kathrynjankowski said...

You always hear: "Keep everything." This is one reason why. It's great for motivation.

When I was teaching, I made writing folders for all my students so they had proof of how much they'd improved over the year.

I see progress in my work, and I value everything I've written, good and bad, for what it teaches me about the process of writing.

Yaya' s Changing World said...

Natalie,
If I didn't feel like I was getting better, I would have quit a long time ago. Great post.

~ Yaya
Yaya's Home

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I think I'm getting better, but I can't be sure. Many times I find myself wondering if I should stop writing and start reading How To books on writing just in case I've been doing wrong for the past few novels.

Terresa said...

I think I'm developing as a writer, but sometimes it's hard to see. Like Natalie Goldberg once said, one day we feel confident about what we write, so sure, so certain. Other days we might not want our writing to leave the room (not quoting her here, just sharing the jist of it).

But through it all, yes, I do feel in bits and spurts, that I am getting better.

Heather Sunseri said...

I'm definitely getting better with each day, each book on the craft that I read, with each word that I write.