Monday 28 September 2009

WRITING TIP: In Pursuit of Excellence (Part 2)

In Pursuit of Excellence (Part 1) we asked how could we, as authors, pursue excellence?

We pursue excellence in our writing by:

• Preparing the mind
Building towards excellence
Realising excellence

Today we will explore how to prepare our minds for excellence.


Self-examination: As authors, we need a strong ego to survive the rigorous journey towards publication. But, as far as our writing goes, we need to put those same egos aside. We must put the needs of the story and the reader above our ego desires. That means when an editor, a critic, or a reader tells us something we don’t want to hear, we need to develop the ability to examine our inner self, as well as our novel, objectively.

Perhaps the results of this self-examination will be that you disagree entirely with the critic. But unless that decision is based on a healthy self-belief rather than a distorted ego, the chances are you won’t be able to accept constructive criticism that can help improve your story’s excellence. The irony of a writer’s self-examination process is that we need strong egos to be able to transcend the emotions engendered by criticism, but we also need enough humility to accept and use any valid criticism.

Distraction Control: How many times are we distracted from our writing goals by Facebook, blogging, our work, our families, and even by life itself? We need to find ways to discipline our inquisitive writer’s mind so that its focus can be on the writing. There will always be outside distractions that have us cutting corners and hurrying through a set of revisions so that we can fetch the kids or finish that big work project.

Distraction control requires enough good old fashioned discipline to allow us to meet our personal writing goals despite the vagaries of life. Who knows when the next goal we strive to meet will be a deadline for a publisher? Part of excellence in writing is having the ability to meet goals and deadlines. No excuses, and no distractions, allowed.

Can you think of any other ways in which we, as writers, can prepare our minds for excellence? If you can, share them with us in the comments section and tomorrow we will look at how to build towards writing excellence.

Image Source


Judith Mercado said...

Thanks, Ann, for your insightful post. As for what I might add to the mix: honoring the voice within that makes one a unique writer. Especially when unpublished, writers, myself included, question whether to force fit their unique vision into the vagaries of the marketplace. I have resisted that, perhaps to the eternal condemnation of not getting my novels published. Luckily, I don't have to sell novels to feed a family and can hope that, someday, honoring my voice elevates the public conversation rather than add to the noise.

Ann Victor said...

JUDITH: Thanks for your comments! I'm in the same lucky position as not having to feed a family on my writing earnings (they'd be starving!) so I, too, hope that one day my writing can be excellent rather than noisy! :)

Anita said...

Another distraction: food.

Whenever I write, I eat more...about halfway through each scene, I find myself heading towards the kitchen. Chewing gum helps, but am out of it today!

Ann Victor said...

ANITA: Of course! Food! Definitely high on my distraction list. I'm currently trying to train myself to nibble raw baby carrots or apples instead of chocolates and biscuits! But still, scratching in the fridge for food - whether healthy or yummy - does break the writing concentration.

Robyn Campbell said...

Ann, distraction control is what I needed to read. It seems like everything acts like a disruption to my writing if I let it. And setting the ego aside...oh my! It's hard isn't it? My conversation with self goes like this. "Hmph! She wouldn't know great writing if it bit her in the __" You get me huh? :) Even though I know I need a good crit, still it hurts. But it only makes my writing better. Thanks for a most wonderful post. :)

Ann Victor said...

ROBYN: Now matter how constructive criticism is, it can still hurt!:( It *is* easier said than done to learn how take the good bits out of criticism!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Great post...seriously enjoying this series, Ann!

I agree with Judith- honoring the voice within- regardless of market. I have a friend who calls herself a writing whore because she'll write anything for money- and has some 50 or more books out to prove it. LOL- but I can't do that. I think it each writer has to honor their own way.
As for eating- lol- I use food as an incentive- if I finish the page I can eat those candies on the desk. ;)