Here at The Writer’s Refuge, I’ve talked a lot about striving for excellence in our writing. And, obviously, excellence demands not only that we write but that we edit, rewrite, let it cool, and possibly rewrite again. As I mentioned in my last blog post, it’s always about producing our best work; earning the right to be read.
There are no legitimate shortcuts. Yes, there are time-saving techniques, but no shortcuts that would devalue this craft. No matter how you cut it, writing is demanding. And while the words come easy at times, we all know they seldom roll out of our head in the right order. Thus, we find ourselves in this endless cycle of rewriting to reshape our thoughts.
Elmore Leonard, an American novelist and screenwriter specializing in crime fiction and suspense thrillers said it best regarding writing with excellence without ever mentioning the word.
“I try to leave out the parts that people skip,” he quipped. Could it be said better? Our goal is always to be read, not to satisfy our ego, but to satisfy our readers’ needs, be it entertainment, enjoyment, information, advice, wisdom or humor. So, wouldn’t it be nice if our readers read our entire piece—skipping nothing? If so, it’s fair to impose upon yourselves a standard that demands our writing be worthy of being read. Every page, paragraph, scene, sentence, and word carefully chosen; each earning the right to be read.
Is your writing worth this? How do you make it so? We’ve talked about the mechanics of this in the following three posts: Give Your Writing a Sound Check (9/19/2012), How to Write Faster (8/15/2012), and To Outline or Not to Outline (5/16/2012). See monthly archive at right.
This blog post is not about the mechanics of excellent writing. Instead, it’s simply about your commitment to write superb prose. To take a gut check, ask yourself these questions.
Do you enjoy rewriting as much as writing? How passionate are you about ensuring that nothing you write is skipped? Will you strive to write that well? Will you edit yourself that ruthlessly? How many times have you written the opening sentence to your novel? Once? Twice? Twenty times? How unique is your plot? How predictable is your ending? All tough questions. Each designed to measure not just our writing ability, but the intensity of our will to write well.
I don’t doubt your skill to write, but I encourage you to insist that your skill be fueled by passion.
When it comes to writing with excellence, to ensure that you “leave out the parts people skip,” let your mind follow your heart.
Note: The Writer’s Refuge will now be published every TWO weeks on Thursday.