So that's what will be happening here at Stan for the next month! Now, on with the post!
Up until the workshop last year, I had not crafted anything that truly shone. I had not prepared any piece of my writing to share with someone else.
I hadn't built confidence in anything.
And, as you can probably guess, I hadn't shared my work with anyone (except for my cousin). So when I realized I was going to have to edit something and show that something to a professional editor ... to sit across from her while she read it and then talk with her about it?
I only had to prepare the three opening pages of manuscript, and a four page excerpt for critique groups.
Not much, I know. But I wasn't prepared. So far, I'd only written for fun. I was serious about it, but I hadn't buckled down to craft words that really shone. Words that I could look at and be proud of.
Being proud of my writing was, to be frank, a foreign concept to me.
But it is possible. I did it, and you can too. Here are a few steps I took to get my three pages ready for a professional editor.
Step #1: I MADE IT THE BEST I COULD ON MY OWN.
The first thing you need to do is sit down and look at your pages. Print them out if that helps you. Take a bright red pen to it. Grab a writing craft book (the GTW book is my go-to, and worth every penny to buy a copy).
Shred it to the best of your abilities. If you're new at micro editing, this will be a bit challenging to you. There's a fine line to walk between good writing and too much polishing. You don't want to lose your voice, but you also don't want to be filled with telling and poor descriptions.
Step #2: I GAVE IT TO SOMEONE ELSE.
I had several people look over it. My cousin was the main person, of course.
And we did not send it to each other just once.
We sent each other those first three pages at least four times. That might seem a bit overkill to you, but it was necessary. I could not have done it on my own, and after one round of edits, more problems would pop up.
Frustrating, I know. Especially for such a small amount of words.
I gave it to another writing friend too, and I actually won a draw on the Writers Helping Writers blog and got a free one page critique, which was incredible.
A small note on critique partners: when you send your writing to someone, you want it to be perfect. But you have to remember, you can't make it the best it can be all by yourself. You need some fresh eyes. You have to bite your lip and toughen up and send out that imperfect document. It's so hard because you KNOW it can be better. You just aren't sure how to get it there yet.
People can help you. Go to your writer friends. They are valuable and will help you make your pages as good as they can be.
But they can only do so much. You are the one that has to take their advice and apply it. Don't let their critiques get you down. They want to help you. And if something they say doesn't sit with you, don't apply it. Examine what they thought was an issue and try to think about it from a new perspective. But if you're happy with something the way it is, KEEP IT. That's another sign of art. Art isn't going to be cookie cutter perfect. It's not supposed to be.
If you're having trouble finding a critique partner, go check out the Go Teen Writers facebook group. There are probably other places, but that has been a huge source of community for me.
Also, when asking someone to critique your work, I would recommend an exchange. Especially if you are both going to a conference or workshop. You can message said person and say, "Hey, I've been trying to get these pages for the workshop ready. Would you like to have a critique exchange?" If they say yes, you'll not only get someone to provide feedback on your work, but you also have a chance to critique someone else's work. Looking at someone else's manuscript for micro issues might be just the thing to get you into the mindset of editing your own. Plus, you'll be helping out a friend.
Step #3: I LET IT GO.
Just like you need to let it go to send it to people for critiques, the day will come when you need to pack up your things for that workshop or conference. And at that point, you have to let it go. You can keep chipping away at those words for a lonnnng time. There will always be a different way to phrase something, a different route to take the story down.
Just take a deep breath and let it go. Let yourself be happy with what you've created, and get ready to show it to people.
That's it for this week. If you're not going to a workshop or conference this summer, I still highly recommend creating something you can show people. Three pages is a good amount. A lot of people want to read your writing. It's nice to have a few pages you can be proud of and say, "Here. Read this."
I'm going to devote a post next week to critiquing. In the meantime, happy writing!
Have you ever been to a workshop or conference? Have you ever gotten a piece of your writing ready for others to read?