I think there is no truer saying than "We are our own worst critics."
A lot of times as writers, we tend to focus on all of the things we believe we're doing wrong. We haven't mastered the fine art of a fight scene, we can't nail (pardon the pun) sex scenes the way we would like, we aren't able to evoke the exact emotion we're shooting for. The list is long, and I'm betting most of us have had a bout of self-doubt over most techniques at one time or another. I, for one, have a horrendous time with high action scenes. To me, they come out sounding stilted and boring. I try all of the techniques people tell you to use: Short sentences. Removing the adjectives. Etc. Etc. In the end, they still end up reading like utter crap to me. They're my achilles heel.
But as writers, it's our "job" to push through this self-doubt and keep on keeping on. Claire touched on this with her post this past weekend. All of this self-doubt, if allowed to fester and nag at you, can really turn into a dehabilitating problem. I know for a very long time, I told myself I couldn't write sex scenes well...so, therefore, I just wouldn't write them. Ever.
I think it was actually Kristen who sort of snapped me out of that thought process. If I remember correctly, she said something along the lines of, "Just because you're not great at them now doesn't mean you shouldn't keep trying to improve."
So true. (Granted, I'm still pretty bad at them. (g))
All this to say that sometimes, just sometimes, we need to take a moment to relish how very far we've come in our writing careers. For just a few minutes, don't focus on what we have left to learn...
...but look back...
...look back and remember all the crazy shit we used to do!
You thought this was going to be a serious post, didn't you? I think not!
Okay, peeps. Let's hear some of the whacked out things you used to do when you first started writing. I'll go first. :)
1. My first attempt at a novel was a bit of a *cough*rip-off*cough* of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. Hey, who doesn't have a Scottish time travel novel under their bed? (Don't lie!) Anyway, I look back at my original file (yes, FILE, because I kept it all in one long ass file for easy access (g)) and realize I had NO CLUE what a return key was, where I might find said return key on my keyboard, nor how to depress the sucker to make a little thing called, WHITE SPACE. I literally have pages without breaks. Not between dialogue. Not between paragraphs (If I even understood what paragraphs were at that point). It was all just one big block of text. I'm telling you, I was one step away from sending agents a manuscript written out in magic marker. ONE STEP.
2. Gerunds. What the hell are they anyway? (I'm not sure I know to this day.)
3. Sex scenes. Oh lordy, but I have some truly terrible ones. I was completely convinced that I was going to revolutionize the way they're written by being brutally honest in the telling. (Somehow this translated to perfect encounters that blew both characters' minds...) I actually thought the word penis was a perfectly legit word to use. Romantic.
4. Repetitive writing that doesn't move the story forward. Let me break it down. I have many conversations in my early pages that go a little something like this:
"I don't want to tell you," he said, dropping his eyes to the ground.
He shrugged. "I just don't."
"Please tell me."
"You wouldn't understand."
"Yes, I will."
"No, you won't."
*Can you hear the cogs of my writer brain working overtime, trying to figure out just what it is this boy wants to say??*
"I just don't understand why you don't think I will understand. Or why you won't tell me when I so obviously want to know. I mean, come on, yo...I've asked like two dozen times and this scene is now 3 pages long and we haven't moved past this point. I actually heard the reader yawn."
"I don't want to tell you."
My list could go on for days. The thing is, I have A LOT left to learn about the craft of writing. But at the same time, I've learned a HELLUVA lot in the last few years. Not only that, but I've completed two novels. Not everyone can say that, so while I know I have a long way to go in this crazy journey of mine, every now and then I need to take a moment and look back at how far I've come. We all do.
Okay....your turn! What crazy habits have you had to kick?