Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The River

I visited a writers' retreat this weekend where I had the good fortune to hear Cindy Dees speak on a variety of topics.

There was one piece of advice that every author needs to hear at some point in her career. Cindy referred to it as The River.



She said that we are all standing on the banks of a river. At our feet, our life experiences flow past us. We dip into the river of experiences as we write. Days later when we return to our writing, the river of experiences has changed. We have changed, and our writing will reflect that. The direction of the story, what we feel for our characters will have changed. Therefore, it is important to start and finish a story in a timely matter, and stop the endless revisions.

Your story will never be perfect. A week, a month, a year from now, your experiences will have changed you, and you'll look on your story with new eyes. Don't do it! Put it down and write the book for where you are now.

As a new writer, this is a hard lesson to learn. I remember revising my first manuscript over and over and over because I was so sure that the story was publishable if I could just get the writing right. After mentioning to an author friend that I was up to the 20th version, she firmly urged me to put it down! And let the poor story rest comfortably under the bed for the rest of time.

To each new manuscript, I bring new experiences both from my life and lessons I've learned as a writer. Hopefully, each new story I write is better than the one before.

Sometimes it's hard to let go of those first stories, but if we don't, then we block ourselves from creating the next story that will be better than the last one.

Here's your permission to let it go!

3 comments:

J.C. Hanks said...

It's the same thing with computer programming...at some point you just have to be finished.

Theresa Grant said...

Having obsessive-compulsive leanings, it's hard to take this advice but I think it's a valuable lesson!

Stephanie Michels, author said...

I wish my inner editor would read your post but the darned witch is too busy trying to polish what I wrote the day before. Arrrgh!!!!