Tuesday 29 September 2009

WRITING TIP: In Pursuit of Excellence (Part 3)

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

In Pursuit of Excellence (Part 2) we explored how we pursue excellence in our writing by preparing the mind.

There are still two steps needed before we can call ourselves excellent writers. We need to:

• Build towards excellence

Realise excellence

Today we will explore how we can build the foundations of excellent writing.


Goals: Set realistic writing goals, which allow you to produce the maximum result with the minimum of effort. Have a clear vision of your goal and focus on that. I have a photo of Margaret Atwood at a book signing. I cut out her face (sorry, Ms Atwood) and in its place I stuck a photo of my face. I look at that photo every night before I go to bed. It reminds me of my ultimate goals: to be both an excellent writer and a published author. Have the courage to hold to that vision of your goal even if others don’t see it.

Commitment: Excellence requires commitment. Whether we make a commitment to ourselves (write x-number of words a day) or to others (Mr Editor, you’ll have the revised manuscript next week), keep that commitment. Because if we don’t meet the commitments we make, how can we build writing excellence?

Expect much of yourself and little of others, thus you will be spared much vexation. (Chinese proverb)

The Challenges: Pay attention to details. Be persistent. Persevere. Never give up. Never. And don’t settle for lesser quality in your writing because you’re exhausted or have to go to work or you’re dispirited because (in the dank, dark cellars of your mind) you’re beginning to think you’ll never be published. Accept nothing less than excellence from yourself. All the time - every time.

Take Action: Strive for your personal best at all times. Cultivate the intention of doing better than you did last time. Strive for impeccable writing and, if later you find you made a mistake, or didn’t do your best, learn to accept that you win some, you lose some. Failure is not to be feared, but rather something to be embraced as just another experience. Move on to the next project. As a writer you always have another chance of achieving excellence, for the next sentence you write may be the best yet.

Any foundation must be sturdy and strong. The foundation of writing excellence is no different. Take the time to ensure your writing foundation is well-built and excellence will become an inherent characteristic of your writing.


Lady Glamis said...

Lots of quote worthy things in here! I feel renewed and ready to pursue with more passion!

Ann Victor said...

LADY GLAMIS: Passion is, of course, an inherent part of excellence. (And, if I may say so, your blog is both passionate and excellent!)

Lady Glamis said...

Aww, thanks!

Davin Malasarn said...

These are a great series of posts, Ann. I've been out of town for a few days, so I'm sorry I wasn't here for the day you posted the first one. But, this is very good advice. I like that you mentioned paying attention to details. That, for me, is something that I sometimes lose track of. You can do something ALMOST excellently, but it takes a lot more to actually BE excellent.

Ann Victor said...

DAVIN: Hope your out of town trip was enjoyable!

I'm also one who battles with the details; I love seeing the big picture, but have to force myself to concentrate on the details, which is something I find quite difficult to do.

Marilyn Brant said...

"Accept nothing less than excellence from yourself. All the time - every time."

LOVE this, Ann. It's such a simple statement, but true. Something we can each strive for, like a "personal best." And thanks for your incredible supportiveness across the blog today--you've been amazing! xo

Anita said...

OK! I'm ready for this! You are so enlightening!

Now I must find a female author with a fab body and great outfit, so I can cut out her face and insert mine.

Robyn Campbell said...

I struggle with some of these Ann. For a time I was settling for less than I could do. Now I know that is an absolute NO-NO. But time can get in the way. And there are times when I say, "I SHALL write 20,000 words this week." Well I have the best of intentions, but there's that time thing again. So now I just say I'm going to write this day and if I do a lot I'm pleased. If not I know there's always tomorrow. Love these posts, Ann. :)

Amanda Holly said...

Fab post! You just hit the sweet spot of motivation. Thank you and keep 'em coming!

Ann Victor said...

MARILYN: Congratulations on the release of your debut novel "According to Jane"; it sounds like a terrific read and it's in my Amazon basket!

ANITA: LOL! What about JK Rowling -she's got a fab body and wears great outfits!

ROBYN: "I'm going to write this day and if I do a lot I'm pleased." What a great attitude to have!!

AMANDA: Glad you're still enjoying the series. Only one more to go!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Ann, Love you photo idea!
When I was four or five years into writing and unpublished, I took a bestselling author's book and pasted my name over the top of hers. So, all you saw was title and NYT Bestseller-and my name. It really helped to hold a book in my hands with my name on it-helped me keep my goals in mind.