Writing Secrets: Writing isn’t for sissies – get used to it

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

We recently had the unenviable task of advising someone that a manuscript needed to be rethought.

It’s devastating advice. Believe me, I know. I’ve had to face that level of criticism in the past. It has sent me whimpering to bed for a couple of weeks. We don’t offer this advice lightly, and we are always aware of the effect we’re likely to cause.

Better for us to be honest, though, if the recipient is serious about her writing. We try to temper the honesty with kindness because that is, after all, our motto: Honest but kind.

To her credit, after an understandable rush of emotion, our participant rose and began work on a new story-plan and, with our help, has brainstormed a solution to the problems of the first draft. It will take work, but she picked herself up and faced the challenge.

That makes her a real writer.

Writing is about facing disappointment. It’s about looking dispassionately at the flaws in your manuscript and setting out to bring it as close to perfection as you are able. It means being dogged.

Nothing is wasted. It may not be much consolation when you first receive difficult news, but our writer has systematically become a better and better writer with every draft of every piece she’s ever written. She’s a writing hero.

That’s what you have to be, if you’re serious. You can’t be a coward when it comes to writing.

We once had a mentoring participant who told us: “Writing used to be much more fun when I could just let it flow in my journal.”

Yes, we know. That’s absolutely true. If you want writing to consist of unalloyed joy, stick to your journal.

But if you’re serious, if you want your writing to be out there, you have to be brave. You need to be a writing hero.

Read Richard’s latest blog: ‘Monday Motivation: Writer’s Block – and how to manage it

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