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What are you writing?

Short post since my internet is slow at best, although nonexistent is more accurate. My school was canceled today. I spent a lot of my day writing. I’ve been revising my query letter and my first novel. So far the first 38 pages have been revised into 18. It’s hard work. Hard. Hard. Work. Not to mention that I’ve already revised it about three hundred times. Like when I cut the first 54 pages and then revised the next 27 making them 13.

Revision doesn’t go as fast as I’d like it to go. I’m learning you can’t really rush revision.

It makes me tip my head in shame. How many times have I rushed revision for young writers? Imagine my teacher voice: Just reread and figure out if you are missing something. Write two or three new leads and pick the one you like best. Add some dialogue or action — whichever is missing. 

Revision isn’t this simple. Revision takes time. The words need to simmer. The writer needs to envision. And then there is reading it over and over and over again until you are so sick of it that you don’t want to read it again, but you can’t stop because you want it to be better than what it is. There is also the fear that if something would happen to you then the world would know how crummy of a writer you really are, so you want to hurry up and finish the revision. I’m not sure enough young writers feel this kind of pressure to revise, though.

Yes, revision takes times. And you can’t hurry it up. You can only plod through it and read it again and swap the words for other words only to wonder if the next day you are going to exchange all of these new words for something else.

So how about you? What’s going on in your writing life and what are you learning from it? Please be brave and share with us.

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

7 thoughts on “What are you writing? Leave a comment

  1. I was a writing machine last month and it felt great. I participated in NaNoWriMo.I wrote a lot of schlock. Is that a word? I think there is probably some good stuff mixed in with it. I have a new monthly writing goal of 500 words. And I’m working on collecting sentences and paragraphs from my favorite authors as mentor texts and trying to imitate their sentence patterns using my own words.

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  2. I have begun the 750 word challenge and that has me writing every morning. After a week, I am beginning to see where I want to move my focus so I am hopeful that this next 30 days will be a time when I can begin to refine and revise some of what I am working on.
    Like running, I have found it takes me awhile to warm up. Some days, those first 600 words are rubbish but then I get to the stuff I really want to write so that has been a great revelation.

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  3. Like Linda, blogging has encouraged me to write much more than I have in the past. I becoming much braver about sharing things with people. My writing used to hide somewhere, but it is slowly seeing the light of day through my blog.

    I wasn’t a “winner” in NaNoWriMo, but the experience was a great one. The act of writing is hard work in and of itself–revision is worse. Like you, Ruth, I cringe when I think about working with student writers and how we have to rush them through the process. I’m struggling with how to change that.

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  4. Great question, Ruth. My writing life before this summer consisted of research papers for grad school and journals. After attended All Write this summer, some ideas began to grow. Then when my class began NaNoWriMo I decided to write with them, try out the idea for a book in my head. And that led to conversations at NCTE of beginning a blog. I was very nervous as I posted my first post but it has been easier each time, and this is only a week in. I hope I will continue putting my writing out there, getting feedback, and growing as a writer. Thanks!

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  5. I have also let this answer simmer. My writing this year, because of the slicing & my blogging, has increased, & I’ve been trying some new things both off line & publicly. My best self seems to be to have numerous things going. I keep long word files and write in them for the blog & for my work & when they fill up to about 15 pages, I start a new file, with a list of ideas at the top. Just as you wrote about revision, I believe it must simmer, so I am thinking about pieces started, half written, or even listed & any day I might work on one or two. I too remember the times I’ve told students to just make those few changes, but in my last years, I worked out a system where they too had several weeks fussing with several pieces (middle school aged students). I have a ‘tiny’ seed idea for a book (or a story) with a character I’ve been messing with. I like the idea of it, & it’s rather like a reward to work on it after doing other writing. All of this, plus all the work I did as a teacher of writing all the years, informs how I’m talking with the teachers I coach-what I share about my own process & what I believe happens with students. It’s really the same, part after part. So, because I’m writing more, I think I’m actually learning more about teaching. Sorry this is so long, but that is what’s going on right now. Thanks for asking, Ruth!

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  6. I’m finding I have a lot of starts. I revise often, but more often I start. I start new beginnings that I never return to for multiple reasons. I find that I force some of the starts to a finish because I need a mentor text for the next day in class. I find that I push through revision in class that is somewhat unnatural so that my students can see my thinking aloud, but when I look at what has transpired, it is not anything worth anything. I find that sometimes I revise to the point that I’ve ruined it and wish I’d done it in a Google Doc, so that I can pull up my Revision History. I have many regrets in my writing, but there are those days when I find success and feel the rewards and accolades too.

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