Writing Secrets: What does it mean to be a writer?

 In Jo-Anne Richard's blog, Tips for Writers

One of our mentoring participants sent me this quote recently and it resonated:

“Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.” – Colette, author (28 Jan 1873-1954)

It’s something I believe absolutely. I’ve spoken to so many authors, many of whom have won acclaim, and they have one thing in common: they say the hardest work often happens after they’ve written something down for the first time.

Writing never emerges as a flawless thing. You’re not a medium and you are not merely passing on a mystical message from a higher power – even if it sometimes feels like it. (I’m not kidding. Some people think it is.)

Writing is a craft. Yes, you can teach it, and yes, definitely, you can improve. And, even more importantly, you have to dig through a lot of drivel to discover the real treasure in your writing.

Sometimes that does mean having the courage to ditch most of it. Or sometimes, even, start from scratch, using what you’ve produced as raw material, to inform a clean, new draft. Sometimes it means substantially rewriting and restructuring.

Whatever it takes, it’s worth it if writing is what you want to do, above all things. Go back to the beginning four, five times if necessary – if you want it to be as good as it can be.

Writing’s not for sissies.

Read Richard’s latest blog: ‘Monday Motivation: You must obey the rules of writing, unless you don’t

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