Monday, October 25, 2010

Beginner writer + instinct - experience/wisdom/knowledge = ?

I have finally conquered that niggling bit of the edit. I realized I had an instinct but I’d been batting it away; firstly, I knew how much work it was going to be and secondly, what do I know? Who am I to have instincts?

What is instinct without wisdom? Or knowledge? Or maybe experience. Should you listen?

When you’re learning something it’s really difficult to know whether to trust your instincts or not. But I have learned that when a more experienced writer than I has looked at my manuscript and made a comment, on several occasions I’ve said, ‘yeah… I sort of knew that.’ Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I know everything (oh dear lord; I actually know nothing) but quite often – enough times to become aware of it – I’ve had that little thought come into my head: ‘you knew this already didn’t you?’

I had vowed to listen a bit more to this voice but it can be quiet over the rest of the din in my head. Then on Saturday night it raised its voice, ‘you gotta get rid of the second library scene,’ it said. ‘It’s stealing the first library scene’s thunder. It’s gotta go. Hello? HELLO? Can you hear me?’

I could. I acknowledged Voice but it was late so I printed out the two scenes and went to bed. Yesterday I got up early and brought the two scenes together.

Then I saw this: “Good writers learn how to pare a manuscript down to its most essential elements, carving away the word count fat that marks so many beginning writers” from here and I knew I’d done the right thing.

Instincts are good but sometimes confidence is required in tandem.

Hello? Hello Confidence? Can you hear me? Can I have some please?


Queenie said...

The thing about writing is you learn as you go, and I'm not sure you ever stop learning (I certainly haven't after years and years). Sounds to me as if you're doing brilliantly. Keep at it.

Rebecca Emin said...

Well done for listening to your inner voice, writing is all about learning as you go along isn't it. It's definitely an enjoyable way to learn though. Good luck.

Rachel Morgan said...

Thank you for encouraging the rest of us "beginner + instinct - experience" writers :-)

And thanks for that link...

Clarissa Draper said...

Yeah, I agree with Queenie, it's a learning process. I have and continue to learn the craft of writing. My thing is I have to learn to add because I start with bare bones.

Great post.


Jenny Beattie said...

Queenie, I do know that to be true. I can look back at how much less I knew three years ago but I still find it hard to trust my own instincts.

Rebecca, thank you. It is and I guess, as Queenie suggests, the bar keeps on getting higher!

Rachel, I think I will always consider myself inexperienced... will I ever look back at myself and think I know enough? I suspect not.

Clarissa, yes, I do believe that too. To some extent I think I underwrite too... but not just bare bones although I'd be interested in trying that I'm not sure it would be me. Thanks for your encouragement.

Debs said...

It sounds like you've done the right thing listening to your subconscious. Glad it spoke up for you.

Fran said...

This works at school for me, too. I only have to say, 'What do you think is wrong with this piece of writing?' and they can tell me. Saves a lot of red pen if they can work it out for themselves.

Jenny Beattie said...

Debs, it had to shout but I got there in the end.

Fran, so really, my instincts ought to be better? But school was soooo long ago.

Karen said...

It's so important to listen to instincts and I know what you mean - when I got the revisions for my novel I was kicking myself, because a lot of the things I had to change were things I'd already known - deep down - needed changing in the first place!

Sounds like it's going really well :o)

Grandpa said...

Hi Jenny, I'm a "jhonny come lately" on this one - have not been too well, then busy with Crusade duties...

Just want to add that my conscience talks to me all the time,quite loudly too, I might add. I've chronicled two heated exchanges here (s for 'self'):

Good luck with your writing