Spring epitomizes a fresh start. It’s a great time to dust off the writing projects in progress and take a new look at them. Like spring cleaning, it’s an opportunity to step back and look at your stories with a view of what could be trimmed out to make the story work better.
It can be really hard to edit out pages that you’ve spent a long time crafting to work within a story, but it’s so important to look at your project with a more objective and less invested view. I always recommend that writers get editing help from ‘someone who doesn’t already love them.’
Your friends and family want you to succeed and they also don’t want to disappoint you, so having them as editors often means writers don’t get the tough love that a less personally invested editor would provide.
Writing groups can be great for that kind of feedback, as well as professional editors. Don’t get me wrong, family and friends can provide great feedback on works-in-progress, however, often their focus is to spare your feelings.
What a writer’s friends and family often don’t realize, however, is that writers are like the first flowers of spring (snowdrops) that break through the snow. Writers actually bloom through adversity and constructive criticism.
Sometimes there’s this romantic idea about writing where new writers think that they’ll just whip out a story that everyone will fall in love with and it won’t require any edits. As if the great writers just sat down and drafted out a best seller without any challenges. Of course, the reality is that writing anything that authentically speaks to readers requires a lot of hard work, frequent re-writes, constructive criticism, and dedication.
As Harlan Ellison is known to have said, “People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.”
Keep working at it, writers. Use this spring as a fresh start for your writing projects and go for it. Find someone who will give you constructive feedback and help you grow as a writer. If the only feedback you are hearing is that everything is perfect, then take that as an invitation to find another reader / editor who will challenge you to help you get a fresh start.