To Cringe or Celebrate? #IWSG

Holy schmoly, January's already over and we're barreling ahead straight through 2016. But my fear of time is more appropriate for a different kind of therapy group. Today we're talking writing.

Last fall I faced something that, upon reflection, I think very well had the potential to cripple me as a writer. I dug into my original novel with an aim to make a few changes (you can get the full scoop in my January newsletter), and while I was in there, I figured I'd clean out some adverbs & whatnot. But what I found inside was much, much worse.

I'm one of those writers who doesn't read her books once they're out in the world. I know it'll only cause itchy fingers to tweak more. After a whirlwind editing process on this particular novel, all I'd ever read were small excerpts pulled for promo. With the full manuscript cut open and once again in front of me, I saw not only excessive adverbage; I found way too many dialogue tags and repetition in the narrative of what had already been conveyed in dialogue. I found judgmental passages unfitting for the overall tone of the story. Worst of all, I found abundant amounts of telling not showing. *gasp*

It was enough to get the mantra "I suck; I suck; I suck," playing through my brain. But then I realized something---2015 me saw the things 2010 me hadn't. Part of that sight comes from simply having been away and coming back fresh, but the bigger part comes from five years of learning. Through writing more stories and having them critiqued, editing and critiquing others, and networking with other writers to share insecurities and tips (thank you!), I've become a better writer. And that's something to celebrate not cringe about.

How about you---do you notice differences in your writing now versus five years ago?


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


One of the things I love about the craft of writing is how we can continue to learn and grow and improve. Good for you for noticing your own growth and celebrating it! :)
Nicola said…
Congratulations on your progress Nicki. I would die of embarrassment if I read my stories of 5 years ago :)
I've totally grown in the last few years as a writer and in other ways, too, but we're not talking about my weight.
Exactly! Like you, once it's published, I never read my own stories again. But my publisher gave some of us an option to re-edit one book last year and I tackled my first one. Yes, I cringed! But it's so much better now.
How can you say you suck when you have actually written a novel? 99.9% of people who try to write a novel jack it in at about Chapter 3, myself included. Nice to see you again, by the way.
Chrys Fey said…
I know for a fact that my first two published eBooks have passive voice in them. I know it because I've grown as a writer. There were times when I wish I could fix them, but I like that they show my growth. We can't be perfect. Keep your head up. Despite what you found, you're a talented writer.
That's why I don't read my older books either. I've learned so much and become a much better writer. Best not to look back for me.
Juneta key said…
Yes and I also wish I had progressed further as a writer. I'm still writing though. I am glad you made through your bad patch. The great thing is that you learned something about yourself, so you grew and that is a powerful thing. Wishing you the best. Happy Writing
Juneta Writer's Gambit
Wow!!! I'm right, write, with you on your post today!!!

I never read my books after they are published either, because I do cringe. After so many reviews stating one of my books had many errors, I did go back to read it, and nearly died!!!!! I trusted my editor to fix all~ without reading it over before it was published, bad mistake, that'll never happen again. I quickly edited the ms, and had my publisher also go over it as well. It still isn't perfect, but much, much better.

It is amazing how much more you learn over the years. And I'm still learning...

As writers, we're always learning...
Anonymous said…

I've been writing for a while, but my first REAL attempt at publishing was in 2009, when I queried a manuscript that had good bones, and maybe even a little fat and muscle, but was nowhere close to being a solid human being (weird metaphor, I know. Sorry.)

Looking back at it, I think "of course it didn't get picked up! I offered a crayon drawing to a museum of fine art." But that's how you learn. You try. You try harder. You do better.

Still totally with you on the cringing thing. I'm releasing the fourth book in my series this June and part of me wants to look back at the first three. But my family has heart conditions and I don't want to give myself an attack. It's for the best.
Anonymous said…
Absolutely. The difference between my first book and second is marked, and the more I write the cleaner each manuscript gets. I've learned a lot from good editors and reading good writers.
Jennifer Lane said…
ADVERBAGE! That was definitely true of my 2010 writing. I'm editing an old fan-fiction and it's pretty horrifying. But I also think I may have done a better job at eliciting emotion back then, too. Did you find any parts that you might have done better back then? I'm so excited to see the revised version!
dolorah said…
Yep, writers experience growth just like our characters do.
Cherie Colyer said…
Oh yes! I've grown as a writer. I have a couple of novels from my early writing days I'd love to revisit and start fresh with. I just know I could do them justice now. Make them stronger and more intriguing. Hang in there! I've read your books, you don't suck. Not one little bit!
Julie Flanders said…
I am totally afraid to look at my books once they have been published. I've had to do a few readings and nearly had nervous breakdowns each time LOL. I hate to read out loud anyway but having to delve into the books again was enough to do me in.

You definitely don't suck!!
Ravyne said…
Wonderful insights, Nicki! Growing as a writer is so important. I am sure whatever you write now will be 100 times better than what you wrote years ago. I have recently resurrected a piece I wrote back in the early 2000s and I cringe as I read. I've been re-working it and it seems like a daunting task now. I cannot believe I thought it was great back then! We live and learn though! Good luck with your projects! ~Lori~
What makes me cringe with my first novel are all the exclamation marks. But I won't go back to anything and rewrite what I've already finished and published. I'd rather just move forward and onward.

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