I made a breakthrough on my book project this weekend. After letting a draft sit for a while, I came back to read it. It is awful. It's nothing but a disembodied voice complaining. I need to start over but at least I know where I stand.
Have you made similar discoveries? That something you've put a lot of time into just isn't working? Did you scrap it and start over or just leave it in the trash and move on?
P.S. As a reminder, this is a small mailing list of writers. Replying goes to the whole list so we can work through the writing process as a community.
I recently dug up some old creative writing pieces from 2012 and 2013. When I wrote them, I had just moved to New York and was stumbling into who I was. Discovering that writing was something I needed to do was an accident that was unfolding.
I wanted to read these few pieces again to help me work through finding my voice. The beginnings of a large writing project is intimidating and I wanted to go into it early with confidence of who I am and what I want to say.
I was hoping to find some clues in these early pieces like hints I left myself before I was consciously writing as a craft. As you'd expect, these pieces were raw and rambling. I was clearly lost and lonely. Yet when I reread those pieces I still saw myself in them. The topics, when not forlorn, are often about journeys, moments, and scenery. Just as I was at the time, my style was a little sad and disconnected.
Maybe in five years, when I look back on what I'm writing now it'll be more full of joy and humanity since I am too.
What do you do to help find and refine your voice? Do you feel like yourself when you write or are you impersonating?
Welcome to the writers.litsub mailing list!
I've been thinking about the idea for this community off and on for a few years. As I've been focusing on my writing practice lately it has become more important to me.
William Zinsser wrote in "On Writing Well":
> You'll never make your mark as a writer unless you develop a respect for words and a curiosity about their shades of meaning that is almost obsessive. The English language is rich in strong and supple words. Take the time to root around and find the ones you want.
Often I find myself struggling to grab hold of words that seem just out of reach. My vocabulary is stunted. Too often I've wished for a legion of writers to have on call when I'm stuck, lost.
I've spent enough time lost (and have read about other writers who spend their time lost) to know this is normal. But it's lonely trudging through the woods trying to find your way out of a sentence. I'm glad to find some friends to help along the way.
Do you have any good suggestions for finding words just out of reach? Do you keep a Thesaurus on your desk? What do you do to practice your vocabulary or to stumble across new words?