pen and inkWe have had four different places for writing retreats, each representing the writer and their interests. Now, let’s put the emphasis of these retreats into creating our best work. Yes, this involves self-editing. So, put on your coat of armor and get ready to fight for or against your choice of words.

You have finished your first draft and cannot wait to send this out to publishers and agents. STOP. This is your first draft and I bet you have not read from page one to the end with a red pen in your hand. Some writers revise their work on the computer and do a fantastic job. For me, I want to hold the manuscript in my hands, sit in a quiet corner or a noisy coffee shop, and use the red pen to strike out words, sentences, paragraphs or even chapters. OUCH. Sometimes you find silly mistakes and wonder how those ideas or thoughts got on the page. You do not remember hitting the keys.

YES, you will revise and revise and revise; but the time will come when you have done all the hard work and hand your ‘baby’ over to another writer for his or her comments. Then you will see your work through their eyes. Maybe you will make more changes or keep what you have changed. You must be the decision maker of your writing to give a reader the best book.

How often do you go overboard on descriptions, scenes, and information, which does not advance your story. Think of these things as seasoning for your story. Just like in cooking, when too much red pepper dominates the soup, and you have to add more broth or water to dilute the taste. So, do not plug up your story with too many unnecessary words. Adverbs and Adjectives are the seasonings you need to leave in the cupboard, so to speak. A noun should be able to say what you want without the use of an adjective. You need a verb strong enough to stand alone.

Keep up with writing courses. Learn new methods. Hone your craft. Do you ever use writing prompts? No?  Why not? These small daily practices keep your mind and creativity sharp. Play around and try out different answers to the same writing prompt. Look through writing magazines and ask other writers which ones they suggest.

Learn from revising, implement new strategies to your writing, get with other writers for a brainstorming period, and pay attention to all criticism of your work. You can only improve and improve. Isn’t this what writers want? A great book.

Have fun with your writing, and rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting. You’ll be a better writer.