Friday, January 8, 2010

The Feel-Good Lie

Sometimes I have a problem separating how it feels to write something from whether or not I think that writing is any good.  Do you know what I mean?  Sometimes the words flow with such ease and satisfaction that I can't help but associate them with good; these are my darlings.  Likewise, I look upon the words I struggled for with a jaundiced eye; these are the red-headed stepchildren.  In reality, there is no correlation between first-draft effort and quality, so the feel-good lie just leads to bad self-editing decisions.

The obvious solution is to set the work aside until the emotional memory fades into a more objective perspective, then revise, then repeat.

When to stop revising is another question.  While time and exhaustive, iterative revision invariably improves my writing, it sure isn't improving my throughput.  But this gets better with experience, right?  RIGHT???


  1. I kind of see what you're saying. When I go back to look at stuff I wrote months or years ago, sometimes I find something I was in love with at the time wasn't so great, while something I hated ends up having bits I love. Spending some time away from your work really opens your eyes to it, that's for sure!

    And thank you so much for your comment! I will keep an eye out for your story :D

  2. I know exactly what you mean! So... you let me know when someone tells you the answer :-)

    PS thank you for the lovely comment on my story at Clarity of Night - I'm #37

  3. Likewise, I look upon the words I struggled for with a jaundiced eye; these are the red-headed stepchildren.

    I often have a different reaction, and it's a very welcome one. I re-read those words I had to drag out of myself with a meat hook and abruptly think, "Oh! Hey! That doesn't suck too badly at all! Who knew?"

  4. MaybeGenius - thanks for your comment on my entry!

    Terri - will do :)

    JJ - that's I often feel AFTER I've had a break from it. If only I had time to take breaks from everything I write before revision time. I'd never be able to maintain a blog, that's for sure.