I’ve been writing for a while. My first ‘official’ novel was written in high school, once I finally figured out the value of outlining and preplanning. It took me almost three months to write, but I was incredibly proud of myself. After two or three ‘drafts’ of that novel, which consisted of mostly just fixing the spelling, I moved to my second novel, though that one was never finished.
When I got to college, I left all of my writing at home and focused on ‘real life’ until I realized that the more I ignored my writing, the harder it was for me to focus on my studies. And nursing is not a field that you don’t want to be able to focus in. My Junior year, I went back home, grabbed my binders and started reading through that first novel that I’d written. To my surprise, it was awful. Terrible. I cringed at how juvenile it sounded.
I spent most of my Junior year, and the summer after revising the novel. I made some pretty substantial chances, and it ended up with 35,000 more words and a much more satisfying ending. But it still didn’t feel like enough. So I went back and revised that. And then I revised again. I read books on how to write, and I began to branch out, explore on the internet to see what was available. I found critique partners who were willing to work with me, despite my inexperience.
After a year of revising that first novel, another idea came to my mind. I tried to follow the same procedure, using months to plan and prepare, but this story took me by surprise and after just a week of planning, I wrote the entire novel during the last month of my Senior year. I was amazed by how much better this novel was than the first one. It’s not me bragging, I had just learned enough skills that this draft was almost to par with draft number 4 or 5 of the first novel.
I’ve found, after years and years of writing, that I’m a reviser at heart. I don’t mind taking my novels and tearing them apart, just as long as I know that it will be better. I just finished a major revision of my Blue WIP, probably one of the only ones where I was dissatisfied with how it turned out after I finished the first draft.
Now that I’ve finished with that revision, I went back to my NaNo novel, ready to tear it apart. Last week, I went through the entire thing, doing a quick read to decide what major changes needed to be made. To my surprise, this novel was solid. Yes, there will be revisions, but nothing as drastic as the first 4 novels that I’d written. The practice, and the dedication that I’d shown to my writing had finally started to show.
Growing up, I took piano lessons. And I believe that I had some talent. But years and years of half-practicing and not dedicating myself to the craft has decreased that talent somewhat. At least, that’s how I feel. Now that I live on my own, and now that I understand the value of practice, I actually have improved much more than I did when I took lessons. It’s just a matter of focusing and practicing on a regular basis.
|Picture taken by me|
Writing is the same way. No matter how much talent a person has, there’s always something more to learn. I heard once that the first million words are just practice. As I went through all of the novels, half-novels and rewrites that I’d done, I realized how much that’s true. My NaNo novel was probably the novel where I surpassed that number. (If not before).
Does that mean I’m done? Everything I write will be gold? Not in the least. But it does mean that I’ve learned, I’ve improved and I’m going to keep improving.