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Monday, July 30, 2012


Although this post was originally an article written to encourage children's writers, there's something for everyone at the end. Stay tuned...

Lin Oliver’s keynote speech at the SCBWI Spring writing conference was filled with gems. Her writing tip from Sid Fleishmann was one of those: In writing, nothing is wasted but the paper.

It’s painful to delete words, scenes, characters, stories. How can we? They’re perfect; brilliant; loved.

So maybe they’re not perfect or brilliant. But still we love them and when we hit the delete key it feels like murder.

Every word; even every project, though, may not be the right word or project.

The wonderful thing about writing is that we have an endless supply of words and ideas. Sometimes we have to write the lack-luster words and ideas to release them from our heads. To make room for the brilliant words and ideas.

We must also acknowledge our learning curve. Sometimes the stories we write are brilliant for our skill at the time we write them. They still may be unmarketable, but they are brilliant because of what we learn by writing them. And, if we save those less-than-brilliant stories until our writing is brilliant, maybe we can polish them up until they, too, shine.

Even the stories that will never shine can be kept tucked away in a cozy computer file. We can take them out and whisper softly. "I love you because of what I learned from writing you and because you show me how much I’ve grown as a writer."

Then—when you’re giving your Newberry Award acceptance speech—you can drag those stories out as examples of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in writing.

Personally, I have plenty of examples.

Now for everyone: Isn't it true that everything we try; everything we do that doesn't turn out right; every mistake we make--has something learned that we can take away from the experience? Isn't there often a better idea; a better way? Even sometimes a lesson in forgiveness and compassion?

In writing as in life...waste not.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for making us teachable. Please guide our lives but when we make mistakes, please provide us with a lesson learned. Please humble us to see that lesson and to learn it well. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Any lessons (in life or writing) you'd like to share?


Pamela Turner said...

So true, Carol! Every effort, even if halting, gives us a basis for moving forward. And sometimes you also go back and say, "Wow, that wasn't half bad!"

From Carols Quill said...

@ Pam - LOL! You're completely right that sometimes our fear of "what if" is worse than "what is." Thanks so much for stopping by!

chris said...

Ha! lessons from today... the past week... or ever? It seems like life is one big learning experience... and tug of war between good and evil. Fortunately, God's love wins, always!

Loved this Carol, very inspiring!

From Carols Quill said...

@ Chris - yes, life is one big learning experience---IF we allow it to be. I love learning even if it's sometimes (often) painful.