When I first began to write with the intent of someday being a professional writer, I went to a lot of creative writing classes. But after a while, they became less exhilarating for me and I found myself learning less and less. Then, I decided to take the matters into my own hands and for a while, I was writing tons of pages during late nights, honing my craft, and trying to improve myself as a writer.
I was writing for a magazine for a while, and my editor was very helpful and always trying to steer me in the right direction with my writing. She gave me an idea to try writing prompts on the internet. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical at first. I was used to being given assignments and homework whether by her or by my creative writing professors, so you can imagine my suspicion. Who was going to review these, and how would I know if they were any good?
My editor told me that that was precisely the challenge she wanted me to face. She said she wanted me to learn to grow on my own, to be more critical of my own work, and try to be objective. I was slightly offended by this. Did she mean that I was too dependent on her as a mentor? I could only guess…
But, I did listen to her. By then I was working independently so I had more free time. I started following the writing prompts and writing every night for two hours. Soon, it became a beloved routine and the hours grew. Sometimes I wouldn’t even look at my automatic wrist watch until way past midnight. I even started pouring myself a whiskey or two every night, just to get the juices flowing… I felt like Hemingway, haha! Those were some good times.
What was challenging was when I had to read back my work, because, on the advice of my former editor, I didn’t edit as I went, but came back to it only after I finished the piece. At first, everything I wrote seemed perfect to me. I started submitting to various literary magazines and publications and then wondered why I got rejected.
My confidence waned. I couldn’t figure it out. But after numerous re-readings, I slowly started realizing that I probably needed to start identifying the parts that need improvement, instead of only the good ones. And I’m still working on that.