Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back on the Blog Chain: Making Mistakes

Time again for another Blog Chain post! (For my new followers, I participate in a Blog Chain dealing with writing topics about twice a month.) For this round, Laura asks us this question:

Regarding your writing career, what’s the best mistake you’ve ever made and why?

This is a difficult question to answer. I've certainly made plenty of writing mistakes, but it's hard to judge which one's the "best." I'm not sure if this one is really a mistake, but it's the best one I can think of.

I started out writing novels, but at one point I got an idea for a short story. About 2000 words later, I took the story to a workshop at a convention. (This particular workshop was led by my writing mentor.) I read it out loud and waited for comments. And boy, did I get them. I don't remember all of them, but there were a lot about the plot and the execution of the story. The other people took a constructive approach to their comments, so it could have been much worse to take. But I wrote down all their comments and talked with some of them afterward. Ultimately, I decided that the story wasn't working and needed a new approach, so I trunked it. I like to say that the story died but the writer lived. After surviving that crit experience, I've gone on to participate in other crit groups. I'm also happy to say that I've gotten better at writing short stories, though I still prefer novels. I just wish my mentor had lived long enough to see me sell a story, though.

If you need more inspiration to cope with your writing mistakes, check out this video:



If you'd like to read more about other writers' mistakes, check out Shannon's post before me and Eric's upcoming post tomorrow.

11 comments:

Misha said...

Everybody has to write a few bad stories before they get to being good.

I used to get 30% for my school essays until I asked my Gran (who is my writing mentor) for advice.

I think the biggest mistake a writer can make is to not asl for advice...

Eric said...

Great answer. We definitely learn a great deal from our mistakes, don't we? And standing in the fires of critiques is a great way to see them.

lbdiamond said...

Wow, what a great attitude to keep going! Some would bag it after an experience like that. Great job! :D

nomadshan said...

Have you ever been tempted to pull the story from the trunk?

writerchick6 said...

Learning from critics is such a great lesson! Also knowing which comments are worth listening to and which ones to ignore. I used to fixate on the negative comments and many were not even useful. Good for you!

Catherine Stine said...

Good post! I've made the mistake of giving my writing to too many people to read, and not just a few trusted readers. I also assumed that I would do picture books because I drew. Got published first in middle grade. Quite a surprise.

Maria Zannini said...

That is a hard question!

I think for me it was starting with short stories. It taught me to think tight, but it sometimes makes me think too tight. LOL!

Sarah Bromley said...

Oh, golly, learning to buck up and take criticism is such an important lesson. And putting yourself out there in the first place is a scary thing. Probably the worst mistake a writer can make is to a write in a vacuum without outside opinions to help you clear away the dreck. Great post, Sandra!

Cole Gibsen said...

I think the scariest thing in the world is reading outloud to a live audience. How brave of you to do so and use the criticism to improve!

Christine Fonseca said...

I agree with Cole...That was brave

Michelle H. said...

Survival of the first crit is the make-or-break time for a writer. Realizing a few bad stories sneaks into our works and able to move on is a great biggest mistake. Love your answer!

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