17 August 2009

Smarter Than I Thought Week

Two weeks ago, I was in a bit of a funk. I was chatting online with a friend. She asked me for some photos that I knew I had in an old post on this blog, and I started browsing through my own archives. And you know what?

I'm smarter than I thought :)

So many things I've learned, so many things I've explained - and I'd forgotten all about them. So this week, to celebrate the things I've learned, the lessons I've discovered, I'm going to revisit some older posts.

Today, something I really needed to hear that day when I was poking through my archives - and something I constantly need to remind myself: Always Do Something.

PS Never fear: The series on Editing Jesscapades will continue next week ;)

If you're looking for one more reason to do Nano, here it is. In their book Art and Fear, Bayles and Orland discuss the principle of quantity over quality. The relevant bit is quoted on the webpage, and goes like this:

"The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pound of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B", and so on. Those being graded on "quality", however, needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an "A".

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay. "

Right now, I'm struggling through a first draft. I HATE first drafts with a passion that sometimes makes me wonder why I'm doing this whole writing thing. First drafts SUCK because they are never, ever, EVER perfect - and I'm a perfectionist.

When we're stuck in the quagmire of an imperfect first draft - or caught in the death grips of editing, for those of you that hate that bit of the process - it's so easy to lose sight of what we love about writing. It's so easy to fall back into the default position - everything I write is terrible, I'm no good at this, I think I'll quit.

Don't. Quit.

Every word you write, every sentence you think, every scene you bash your head against the desk over - everything you read over later and wonder what you were on at the time... It's Something. It's Practice. You're Learning.

Quantity. To improve, you must practice. And practice means volume.

Go. Write. Do something.


Merc said...

Very true. And you know what, even if your first drafts always suck, the more you churn out, the better they'll get on some level. They still won't be good in raw form, but you're always improving. You learn as you revise, and subconsciously or consciously, you'll be working with what you've learned and get better--so drafts will still suck, but there will be improvement as you go.

'Least, that's what I keep telling myself. ;)


Danyelle said...

Because I am weird, I found that nano didn't work for me. Sure I got the words, but my usual drafts come out so much cleaner than the nano one did.

Yunaleska said...

Practice definitely makes for better wips. I'm not a nano girl...I'm with Dani on nano drafts being worse than usual drafts! (not that I've ever completed nano...)

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