Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I.W.S.G. Growing a Writer

Meet the rest of the IWSG
3 1/2 years ago, just for fun, I decided to write a book. I took it to my first writers conference where it received a critique for the first time. Not only did I learn it was crap, but there was A LOT of stuff I didn't know about writing like grammar rules, formatting, show vs. tell, passive language, tenses, point of view, etc. I was WAY behind the game and felt completely overwhelmed. Even when others explained things to me and I corrected it on my first page, ten other things surfaced that needed fixing. I think I cried. No, really. I thought I would NEVER be able to remember everything I needed to. It was too hard.

But I didn't give up because writing made me happy. Giddy, really. So I joined a critique group, attended more conferences, devoured books on writing craft, read blogs on writing tips, and most of all kept writing. And when someone critiqued my writing, I didn't curse them and overdose on chocolate. Okay, so maybe I did, BUT THEN I listened to their advice and worked and worked to fix my writing. I learned from my mistakes and kept trying. And my writing got better. Slowly but surely.

It improved enough to land me an agent. And later, a publisher. I still remember the day I sat in my publisher's office and they told me how much they loved my writing and that it was one of the cleanest submissions they've ever received. Um...what? I teared up that day because I realized how far I'd come from the girl who didn't even know what a dialogue tag was to now having a book deal.

I still have a lot to learn about writing, but I know I will learn it. That's the beauty of never giving up. So don't be too stubborn or proud to listen to advice and critique. Accept it and learn from it. Make every word, paragraph, chapter, novel better than the last. And you'll get there eventually. You're growing a writer...and that's a beautiful thing.

25 comments:

Murees Dupé said...

This is a wonderful post. I needed to read something like this and you just made me feel all warm, fuzzy and hopeful. Thank you. Congratulations on all your success because you really worked hard for it.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Your post makes me feel all warm and glowy. Thanks for sharing your road to success story and for never giving up.

Laura said...

This is a lovely post, it's nice to read something positive! I always remember the old saying, practise makes perfect.

Suzi said...

The clean submission thing. That's pretty cool.

Luckily (or unluckily, I haven't decided which), I wasn't hit with all my writing mistakes at once, sending me into a crying jag. They've come little by little over a few years. So it's taken me a long time to kinda figure out things.

What the hell though, there's so much waiting in writing, you can't be in a rush anyways.

Robin said...

Thanks, Ilima! Beautiful post. I have to believe (AND HOPE) that I am growing as a writer. That I am making progress, no matter how small. So happy for all you've accomplished!

J. A. Bennett said...

Thank you for that reminder. Funny how we writers need to be reminded of that again and again. Wonderful post!

jaybird said...

Oh my gosh, thank you so much for this post. You just gave me so much hope. I am still rocking the "before" shot. I want so badly to have that "after" moment, but I am knee deep in bad grammar, tense issues and all kinds of other writing mistakes. I am doing my very best to rectify that, but mostly, I just want bury my head in the sand, consume loads of chocolate and have myself a good, long cry. Reading this post and knowing you once struggled with the same things, really helps. I never would have guessed you struggled. You always seem to have it all together. Thank you so much for sharing!! xo

Nicole said...

What an inspirational story! One of the things I love about writing is there's always room to grow and learn and strengthen our skills.

M Pax said...

Love your story. It does take time to learn the craft, and we must always keep our minds open to learning. Great post!

Emily R. King said...

I'm at it 5 years and I'm still not quite where you are. It took me longer to find other writers to help me along my way and accept their help. I wish I had found this online community sooner!

Crystal Collier said...

So true! You are always growing, right? And, we all grow at our own rate and in our own way. What works for one person might not work for another.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You've come a long way! Cleanest submission ever - that is the highest compliment.

Ella said...

Wow, I am in awe, but so encouraged by your post! Congrats on pushing through and reaching the summit!

Thank you for sharing your story!
:D

Kathryn Purdie said...

This post makes me smile so much. I'm honored to have been on a lot of this journey with you! <3

T. Drecker said...

What a wonderful compliment to get from a publisher! Treasure that :)

Suzanne Furness said...

What a lovely post and proof that hard work and determination can lead to great things. I believe we should always be learning and evolving.

Robin said...

Very inspiring. I am at the beginning of the road. Every day I read what I have written and I think, "It is just awful." I can see the mistakes in it. Many of them are things you mentioned. I desperately need a critique group but have no idea about how to go about finding one...

I do believe that if you hang in there long enough... all of these things find their way to you...

Donna K. Weaver said...

Oh, that story about sitting in your publisher's office gave me chills. I'm so excited for you!. I think one of the most important things we need to do is be teachable.

Leigh Covington said...

I'm not a Miley fan, but I'm a HUGE fan of that song! I listen to it a lot when I need motivation!
Love your post Ilima. There's a lot to learn and we just need to keep learning and doing the best we can do!

Johanna Garth said...

It's all a process and sometimes I think that's easy to forget. Your post reminds me to look back and appreciate how far I've come instead of constantly straining at the proverbial leash to get to the next rung on my neverending ladder. (talk about mixing your metaphors!) ;)

Wendy H said...

It is nice to hear a story about constant pursuit and focus actually leading to success. :) As I've heard it said, there are no guarantees, except that if you stop trying you have reduced your chances to zero.

Congratulations, may there be many more published works to come!

Jack said...

It is so hard when one first starts writing to take criticism and advice. But it always turns out for the best in the end, even if the author wishes to deck whoever is telling them what is wrong with their book.

Tammy Theriault said...

oh girl...i can't wait till everything lines up and we see your book!!!

Michelle D. Argyle said...

It's a tough little thing to humble yourself enough to take criticism, but keep enough pride to keep writing and love what you're doing! Love this post. :)

Brandon Ax said...

I always look a it like we are the only people responsible for our success or failure. Part of succeeding is learning to see the value in those that have come before you and are doing what you wish to do.

Love the post.