As I continue my writing journey, I’ve noticed I see myself differently. Not just in a specific sense, but in a more holistic way. Writing makes me look more introspectively at myself and my own abilities. I’ve seen people post their own top five lists and I thought it might be fun to do my own. So here goes. Top five changes I’ve noticed since becoming a serious writer.
- It takes me about a bazillion times longer to write anything these days. It may sound counter-intuitive, but since I write more, it takes me so much longer now than it used to. I no longer find myself plunging through any old thing and hitting the ‘send button’. Now I have to go back and analyze every little word and letter. Every sentence needs to be read and re-read to see if I got my meaning right. And even then I find I’ve missed something here or there.
- I find my interest in the arts has grown dramatically. Although I have never been able to keep my Crayola’s inside the lines, I have always been interested in arts. But as I grow as a writer, I have learned to slow down and enjoy the works of art far more than I’ve ever done in the past. Last year I had the pleasure of seeing the Mona Lisa in Paris. While there were hundreds of others trying to take the obligatory ‘selfie’ with her, I was more content to sit there and enjoy the image on the canvas. I thought about what was going through da Vinci’s mind as he painted it. I wondered what the subject thought about the process and how long it took for him to get the painting done. Of course, the Louvre has so many wonderful works of art and I could have just spent a week in the art galleries alone.
- I have become my own worst critic. It’s true, writers are always one step away from self-doubt. I’m no exception. One moment I am convinced I’m a literary genius and the next moment I am convinced I should really take up a less demanding hobby. Maybe I should take up crocheting or bird watching? Perhaps bowling would be a better fit for me. Maybe … oh wait, the moment has passed. I guess I should get back to writing.
- I am in constant awe of others. I suppose this goes hand and hand with number three. I am constantly looking at other people’s work and being amazed at their skills. But, along with that, I am often amazed they would choose to associate with me. I recently attended an event where I was sitting next to two fellow authors who had far more successes than I even dream about at this point. It was like being a kid and being allowed to sit at the big people’s table.
- My ability to accept my own failings is growing. Anyone who is getting into writing learns that your ability to take criticism is critical to your life as an author. You have to be willing to read feedback with two ideas in mind.
One: This person isn’t out to hurt you. In fact, they want to help you. That’s why they’re giving you feedback that stings a little. They are showing you your own failings. A mirror in front of you hurts only because it shows you things that only you can change.
Two: You don’t have to take it! Okay, so your beta reader gave you a laundry list of things you should change in your manuscript. Even if that beta reader is a well-respected author, I’ve learned to keep a sense of perspective. Because, at the end of the day, it’s my name going on the title page. Since that’s true, then the final say is mine! Granted, you ignore advice at your own peril but that advice is advice and not law. If you don’t agree with a suggestion, then don’t use it!
That being said, I usually do take about 85-95% of the advice my beta readers give me. Ultimately it’s good advice and I picked them to beta the manuscript for me because I trust their counsel.
So, that’s it. My top five list of changes I’ve noticed since becoming a serious writer. Hope you enjoy it!