Wednesday, August 3, 2016
No Writing is Wasted Writing #IWSG
It’s another first Wednesday of the month when all the IWSGers post on their blogs about their writing insecurities or offer some encouragement to others. If you are new to the IWSG, then please check out our IWSG Sign-up tab here and join up. A big thank you to our co-hosts for this month's posting: Tamara Narayan, Tonja Drecker, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Lauren @ Pensuasion, Stephen Tremp, and Julie Flanders!
A new feature we’ve introduced here at the IWSG is a question each month. The big question for this month: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?
I started writing in my teens and had no clue. Two epic crazy-length fantasy novels later… You know where this is going. Both are collecting dust. I did all the wrong things: One pass of editing, no critique partners, sent the whole brick-thick manuscripts to publishers without a query first. Will I ever rewrite them? Probably not. They were a knock-off of Lord of the Rings, naïve, and embarrassingly cumbersome in so many ways. Did I waste my time writing almost half a million words that went nowhere? Absolutely not.
Sometimes we have to write a whole lot of rubbish before the gems start surfacing. We have to flush our creative systems of those copycat stories, the cardboard characters, and the stilted plots that go nowhere. We need time to learn what works, what doesn’t. And the best way to learn is to write. By writing continuously, we gain the confidence to write the stories that come from the deepest part of ourselves, the ones that are unique to us.
Sometimes we can save a gnarly piece of writing. Sometimes we can’t. And that’s ok. I occasionally go back to my early novels and read through them. They are a source of encouragement because they show me how far I’ve come. No writing is wasted writing.
So, what happened to your first pieces of writing?
Next month’s question for the IWSG: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?
Lynda R. Young writes devotionals, articles, and speculative short stories. In her spare time she is also an editor, game developer, artist, and dabbles in photography and all things creative. She lives in Australia with her sweetheart of a husband. You can find her here: Blog, Twitter, Facebook
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Definitely agree, Lynda! No writing is wasted we are constantly learning.
My first book stunk. It was a good experience writing it, but I'm glad it never went anywhere.
I love the image of the gems surfacing from the rubbish. And you are totally right - no writing is wasted.
Yep, mine was crap. I deleted it. You do learn way more as you go along though and each one gets better.
I love this post. It is so good to find I'm not the only one who has written rubbish. I didn't keep my first writings though. In the early days I tore my manuscript into tiny pieces and threw them away. Sometimes I burned them so there wouldn't be any trace left. Today it is simpler. I just hit the "delete" button. I am so glad I found the IWSG. I don't feel so alone in my writing angst anymore.
Hi Lynda - love your new book and cover ... my first pieces of writing were letters back from when I was in South Africa - wish I'd written when I was at the Munich Olympics (I was an admin lady! - not competing!) ... then my blog posts - chart my progress .... cheers Hilary
I enjoyed reading your totally honest account of your teen writing experience. As a teen, we often have so little life experience, we just boldly go forth. Equally wonderful, you kept writing and improving.
Very inspiring post.
I think we ALL make mistakes with our first attempts... and, yes, they were NOT a waste of time. I still have hopes for my first novel. It has gone through HUNDREDS of edits and the story is clean and tight. But I just need to leave it cook for a while longer before attacking it again.
WE do LEARN so much from our first writings, but what I love most is the sweetness of the first writings... before all the polish and savvy. There is something very endearing about the naiveté...
I still like many of the first poems I wrote as a 'serious' writer. They had a ferocious energy of a sort I can't duplicate now, even though I am much more skilled as a writer.
And as for my 'failed' novel writing--- starting and not finishing a lot of novels over the years has polished my writing skills. Now I am seriously working on my book-finishing skills.
I still have my first fantasy novel sitting in a box, and I swear one day I'll rewrite it. It had its flaws, but I still love the characters, and can see how to correct the story arc.
That is such a good point. Few people get it right at the beginning but hopefully we learn from it.
My first piece of writing is also collecting dust. I have several novels that I wrote when I was young that are so riddled with problems I'll likely never touch them again. I'm glad I wrote them, though. I loved writing them at the time, and without them, I wouldn't be the writer I am today.
It takes a lot of writing to get any good at it.
My first piece of writing, written when I was 8, has long since disappeared. But I do have quite a bit from high school. Most of it is pretty bad, but there are a few rather polished jewels of which I'm rather proud.
Totally agree! nothing is wasted - I've learned so much from my cheesy, overwritten drivel! :)
I have a few abandoned Sci-Fi manuscripts from my high-school and college days. Now I cannibalize them for story ideas. The plots may be rubbish, but I can still use a lot of the place names, character names, species names, etc.
I've never had the nerve to go back and read that first full length manuscript. Partially because it's so badly written, but also because it's based on a true story that would leave me bawling like a baby. Thanks for your great advice, Lynda. Nothing ever happens for no reason and nothing done is ever wasted. Thanks.
Thank you for your honest post. I appreciate your encouragement and how you go back and reread it and nothing should be regretted as far as our writing efforts. :)
Yes. Reading earlier things you've written has to be a boost. I get a good laugh out of some of what I wrote along the way.
I'd snort and giggle my way through my early pieces.
I absolutely agree, Lynda ~ No writing is wasted! thanks for sharing your journey ~ It is very encouraging! Happy IWSG Day!
I quite agree. When we compare our work with others, we are comparing rough drafts with polished, edited, redrafted, re-edited and finally published work. If we could see the drafts of Harry Potter or the Rebus books we'd feel a whole lot better about our own work.
No writing is wasted. That's exactly why I save everything. Not only can you see how far you've come, but sometimes where you're going with a story you've put away.
They say you have to write a million words before you know what you're doing. I think that's probably a good measuring tool.
I have writer envy. I have never completed a full novel. Short stories but no novels. That is so cool you did as a teenager. Congrats on your upcoming release too.
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit
I wrote my first novel when I was 12. My 15 year old self threw it out as juvenile. Fifty years later I'm about to publish my memoir. Turns out I was meant to be an author after all.
I agree that no writing is wasted. We may wish for efficiency of process, but this is art, not manufacturing. You have to wander down some wrong roads to learn which is right . . .and that might not the right road for the next one.
Trial and error, right? I do believe that any of our writing contributes to a future project somehow, just like I feel that reading a lot helps as well. Writing a book or anything else substantial is nevertheless a serious endeavor. I have only been successful in publishing articles, so my IWSG post this month reflects on that.
Liesbet @ Roaming About
Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field, so I guess we gotta put in our ten thousand hours of writing practice, right. I wonder if blogposts count?
Great answer, Lynda. The journey of writing down stories, the research, the editing, the act of creating are all wonderful ways to participate in this writing life.
Love this. I think it would be fun to do a blog hop where people shared the worst paragraphs of our "dust collector" novels. I so often want to tell fledgling writers who are sending out that first brick of a novel to agents that, um, no, it's probably not going to bring you fame and fortune, and that's not because agents are meanies. And yes, it's going to end up in a drawer, but IT'S NOT TIME WASTED. Thanks for saying it so well!
Great post. Yes, even our worst pieces are a school. My first novel definitely was, in so many ways. I learned so much through it. I don't think it will ever get published in its current incarnation but I might turn it into a selection of shorts. Maybe... :)
I absolutely love the title of this post. Whatever writing we do, even if it's horrible, is helping us in some way...to perfect out craft, to learn, to find inspiration, and to uncover the right story. :)
I agree! Sometimes I wonder how many words I've written...essays, articles, term papers, seven years worth of blog posts, one trash novel, two competed novels, one novel in progress, and poems. Not to mention work related memos, newsletters, and manuals. Millions of words, I think, and I don't regret one of them.
This is such a lovely post and wonderfully encouraging. We've all got works that have been sitting in drawers and on hard-drives that we feel were wasted years. You're right, though. There is no such thing as wasted writing. Even if it never sees the light of day there is so much we can learn from these pieces. I like to think of them as my own personal writing boot camp. My first writing is a rather LOOOOOONG fantasy trilogy that I still take out and work on from time to time. I'm confident I'll get the kinks worked out and I'll eventually get out of the way and let the characters tell the story they've been desperate to tell from over 20 years!
You learn as you go, for sure. Even though I took a few college creative writing classes, I have to admit that the real learning started when I found the blogging world of writers.
You're so right, Lynda. Nothing we write is wasted. Everything serves to help us along on our journey.
Suzanne, when we stop learning, we stop creating.
Sandra, we have to start somewhere!
Madeline, the more we write, the easier it becomes to find those gems :)
Pat, and I think recognizing the pieces that aren't so good is part of the learning process.
Valerie, pressing the delete key isn't as satisfying as watching an ugly piece burn, though ;)
Hilary, Thanks so much. Wow, you'd have so many great memories from the Munich Olympics.
Lynn, As teens, we were clueless and fearless. Once we get a clue, though, the fear starts creeping in. There's a lot to be said for a certain level of fearlessness.
Michael, time is the best editor. Often we are too quick to send our manuscripts into the world.
Nissa, best wishes for finishing your next book.
Bob, seeing how to correct that story arc is a good place to be. Best wishes for when you rewrite.
Susan, learning is almost inevitable, especially if we keep reading too.
LG, those early writings shape us into the writers we are today.
Alex, too true!
Bish, I hope you forever keep those jewels.
Jemi, you made me chuckle.
James, that's another great point! I've done that too.
Joylene, sometimes it's best to look forward.
Erika, I hope my honesty helps.
Lee, it's healthy to laugh at our past mistakes.
Diane, lol. You made me literally laugh out loud. I can relate.
Fundy, glad you were encouraged.
Lizard, well said.
Diedre, I try to save everything too.
Crystal, yeah, I've heard that too. I should add up how much I've written... I know it's way more than a million now. Way more...
Juneta, I think that's why my first novels were so crazy long; I didn't want to finish them so I kept writing, lol.
Mary, research and editing and the first spurt of an idea are what I enjoy most about writing.
Anne, I love your idea for a blog hop.
Olga, It's nice having that option.
Chrys, wonderfully summarized!
Liza, millions of words and every one of them important.
Jen, hold onto that confidence and keep going. It sounds like it's a story that needs to be told.
Gwen, without the blogging community I would not be where I am today.
Joy, it's a journey we need to take. There are no shortcuts!
I sent my first serious piece to a lady who lived 2 hours from me and was starting up a new magazine. She accepted it and printed it in her next issue, writing a companion piece to appear beside it on the next page. This initiated several years of writing for her and for a friend of hers in another small magazine, which gave me a portfolio and courage to try for a larger magazine, for which I was accepted and wrote for 6 years. Now I'm half way through my first book, and am working with a co-writer from the most recent magazine, on a compilation of our magazine work, which happens all to be on the same topic.
Because I took up writing at a relatively late age (40), the only thing that I created when younger was mostly verbal witticisms. As an adult, when I decided to write something out of my comfort zone, the end result was a G-rated story that became my first published piece in 2009. I would say that most of my early writing was limited to business correspondence and the like.
Father Nature's Corner
I might have lost many early scribblings but I'm sure they weren't wasted. Some have even re-surfaced as better ideas. All part of the life-long learning process.
Love the title of this post. The more we write the better we get. Hopefully. Recognizing our mistakes and changing/growing is essential. Best wishes.
Fantastic post! I completely agree. I have old manuscripts that I cannot believe I wrote, but they do show me how far I've come. One day, I'll look back on my stories now and hopefully think the same thing. :)
Katherine, sounds like you've enjoyed great success with your writing.
GB, how wonderful your first piece was published!
Roland, Stories are like that. They have a way of resurfacing.
Diane, I think 'hopefully' becomes 'definitely' if we include reading in that mix.
Christine, we always improve and grow when we continue to write.
My first story in writing school was about a family of rabbits. I never did anything with it, except revise it. It's probably a good thing it never saw the light of day. D
I haven't attempted to write a book or novel yet. I find the thought overwhelming.
Hi, where do i find the IWSG badge to add to my blog?
Thanks for visiting my blog and for the heads up on next months question.
All writing is good writing in one way or another.
My first writing was a handful of short stories about cars that had different personalities based on what kind they were and they could talk. Who knew that would actually becomes a big thing?
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