Assessing Your Writing

I was chatting with a good friend yesterday and asked her about her current WIP.  We were talking, and she told me something about another project — one she has in an agent’s hands right now — which sort of startled me a little.  Not only that, but it made me stop and think about my own writing in a different way.

Basically, she gave herself a pretty harsh assessment.  She didn’t do it in a self-deprecatory way, but she was really honest with herself about the piece.  The words she used were springboards to tell me about how she sees her newer work, and indicated her growth as a writer between the two pieces.  But her description was harsh enough I wouldn’t have felt comfortable giving it to her … or to anyone else for that matter.  (Most of this is because I’m not as savvy with the publishing industry, though, not because I’m not an honest critic.)  I squirmed reading her statement, but later on, I wondered about my own current body of work.

I know I can look back on things I’ve written before and see growth.  I know some of the stinkburgers I’ve written should never see the light of day, and thank God, they haven’t.  I’ve been rather proud of my current work, though.  Not because it’s the next literary explosion, the next Harry Potter phenomenon or anything.  It’s just because I’m pleased with how it turned out, how it’s turning out, and how the editing process is improving it.  So I started wondering about my ability to see my newer work objectively.

My friend left me awash in admiration of her ability to state so bluntly what she thought of her work.  There wasn’t a sense of false humility, of saying something akin to what Eeyore would say about his writing.  She was just looking at it objectively, and speaking about it objectively.  The lack of coddling or barbs in her statement make its naked truth more powerful to me.


4 thoughts on “Assessing Your Writing

  1. That’s very interesting, Knyt. I didn’t know my statement would start your wheels turning.

    I think it’s much easier to honestly assess the uglier child once you have a prettier child to take its place. 😉

  2. Sherri — Thanks for coming by and letting me know what you think. It’s not often we speak about writing without you making some wheels turn for me, so don’t be surprised. I think it also helped me realize how important it is to be honest about our level of achievement. Thanks for that, too. 🙂

  3. Honesty doesn’t mean only looking at the bad parts. Can you put the pessimist aside and be honest about the good parts, too? That was the hardest thing for me. Realizing that the bad doesn’t take anything away from the good, and that it’s not conceit to acknowledge the good.

  4. Sherri — Another great point, hon. Yes, being honest is being honest in every aspect, good AND bad. That’s not as easy for me. I tend to find fault, and am less prone to finding the positives. Thanks for the reminder of what objectivity is.

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