Tuesday, December 28, 2010

10 Things I Learned About Writing in 2010 (Often the Hard Way)

1) It all starts with a blog.  Not that blogging is essential for a writer, but for me this jumpstarted my writing process in 2010.  Blogging led to more interest in writing, which led to reviewing...all of which led to more connections with wonderful online friends.

2) I have been surprised that I have learned nearly as much about my own writing by critiquing other's pieces as I have by having my pieces critiqued.  God uses other people's writing to show me the strengths and weaknesses of my own writing.

3) In 2010 I have been learning the true meaning of "sloppy copy."  As a perfectionist, it sure doesn't come naturally to me.  I have been learning how my inner critic has slowed down my productivity.

4) Reputation does matter.  BIG time.  People are watching, we need to remember this as Christian writers.  Watch who you accept as friends, even if it is as simple as who you follow on Goodreads and Twitter.

5) Not every "opportunity" is a door we need to step through.  Satan is subtle in trying to get us to compromise our witness.  And we need to be just as careful with opportunities in the Christian market.  I have sadly learned this the hard way in 2010, several times.

6) A good critique is worth its weight in gold.  I have had the fortunate experience of being critiqued by a few wonderful people in 2010.  My experience is that there's nearly always at least a kernel of truth in every critique.

7) I believe the quality of books you write will never exceed the quality of books you read.  I have sadly wasted time on books in 2010 and I hope to be more choosy about my reads in 2011 by cutting down on reviewing commitments.

8) Its when my writing truly contains a piece of my brokenness and is stripped of pride that He can use it most.  Ouch, it hurts to write these things to bleed out on the page.

9) Published authors are "regular folk."  Yes, I know just how hick-ish this sounds, but I've been blown away by authors who have gone out of their way to help and bless me and so many others.

10) Always pray before you pick up that pen.  I have most definitely noticed the difference between times when I do this and times when I don't.

What about you?  What has God taught you about writing craft in 2010?  


Kav said...

Wow, great list! I'd have to say that what has hit home in 2010 for me is -- Nothing's going to happen unless you get to work and keep working! I know it's not very profound, but as I've blog hopped and talked to would-be writers and published authors I have continued to be amazed at their dedication to finding the time and just doing it!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Great list, Julia! I don't have room here to list all the things I learned in 2010...Between attending 2 online classes and paying for 2 professional critiques, I learned enough to make my brain hurt. So I guess what I learned is to keep on learning and buy some Advil.

Gia Cooper said...

This is a great post. Makes me think over how far I've come in a year. Wishing everyone success in 2011!

Casey said...

Wow, what a great list Julia. Spoke to me personally too. I agree with them all- so very much, especially the book one! I am definately going to be more choosy next year and read more in my chosen genre as well. Very important. And the opportunity doors. Ouch, yes very true. We have to test each spirit before charging through.

Thanks so much Julia, this is perfect sumation of this year!

Keli Gwyn said...

I learned:
that I have a lot to learn.
that a willingness to rewrite/revise pays off.
that sagging middles happen when tension drops.
that cutting portions of a story often makes it better.
that having excellent critique partners really helps.

Amber Holcomb said...

This is a wonderful list, Julia! Thank you for sharing what you've learned with us. :)


Julia M. Reffner said...

@ Kav, I so agree with this and I have to admit sometimes my own writing falls by the wayside in the busyness so I have an admiration for those who write every single day.

I hope to be able to get a pro critique in 2011. I'm sure that was worth its weight with what it taught you. And the Advil is sure needed, especially after a "crying" headache.

Julia M. Reffner said...

@ Gia,
Thank you and I'm glad this post helped you to think about what you have learned.

Julia M. Reffner said...

@ Casey,
Yes, yes! Here's to reading the best books in 2011!

I think learning how much we need to learn is a very important thing and I hope I will always keep in mind how much I have to learn this new year. And ouch on the cutting. Its hard to cut out some of my favorite lines/scenes, etc...but my critiquer is almost always right.

Julia M. Reffner said...

@ Amber,
It was sort of hard to keep it to 10...yet also a humbling reminder of how much I have to learn :)

Joy Tamsin David said...

Very insightful comments Julia!

I totally agree with learning from critting. I really need to get back to critiquing other people's work b/c I learn so much from it.

I think one thing I've learned about writing this year is not to put the cart before the horse. I need to really focus on learning the craft and refining my work before worrying about contests or conferences.

Finally, one think I hope to learn in 2011 is BALANCE! Yikes. I'm soo out of balance with my blog. I need to find a happy medium between reviewing books, maintaining a web presence and working on my own writing.

Tracy Krauss said...

Great list. I connected with your 'sloppy copy' comment - I have often been slowed down by my own incessant revision that I lose the flow of the story. Just letting it out and revising later is a lesson I learned this year at NaNo.

Renee Ann said...

Julia, this line really hit me: "It's when my writing truly contains a piece of my brokenness and is stripped of pride that He can use it most." . . . You do put yourself out on the page. I think that here on the Alley, on your blog, and in the comments you leave for others, your humble Christian presence shines through! I'm so glad I "met" you online!