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The Pursuit of Perfection: And How It Harms Writers (WMG Writer's Guide Book 3) Kindle Edition
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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In these workshops what typically happens is that your manuscript (usually a short story) gets to be critiqued (actually the word for this is constructive feedback or positive criticism) by your peers and colleagues. As Rusch explains, “most workshops have a no-holds-barred policy: the critiques can say whatever they want as meanly as they want and at whatever length they choose”. In her experience, in some cases, criticism of a short story of 3,000 words have lasted for more than 20 minutes!
You can imagine the blow to the writer’s self-confidence. This is exactly Rusch’s point. Most writers give up on their dreams after a semester of “creative writing” because they become so demoralised! Is this then where you should be spending your hard earned money?
The worst and the saddest part is that most of these critiques are from either wannabe writers themselves (who have probably not yet written a single page of anything that can be termed “creative”) or authors with a few books under their belt but with no idea of how the technique for writing a short story could be completely different from that of writing a novel.
Of course, you can argue that not all workshops are like that and I would readily agree. We sure cannot generalise but then you have to be careful about the type of workshop you choose. Check out their websites, meet their teachers, ask them about their training methods and consider whether it all suits your temperament (and your pocket) before you take out your credit card or cheque book. Be forewarned, however, that this can all be quite time consuming.
Writers assume that creative workshops can help them craft a perfect story which they cannot on their own. Well, the reality is that there is no such thing as a perfect story.
Practicing is the key to success. The more you write, the better your craft becomes.
The other fatal mistake writers make is when they don’t treat their writing career as a business. They don’t understand their industry and sign any contract with publishers that contains unreasonable terms and conditions restricting their growth as a writer.
This short book is definitely worth reading!
I kept thinking, I need to donate on her blog or buy a couple of novels. Then the phone would ring, and my good intentions would be forgotten.
When I found three of her writing books discounted in a big bundle (don't remove the review, Amazon. I charged that purchase through you!), I said AHA. Here's a way to support her and keep this wisdom on my Kindle, even when the WiFi is bad. And so if I start to backslide again, the next time someone says admiringly so and so took twelve years to revise her novel, I can re-read this and the other books of hers and get my head screwed on straight again.
Yes it's a high price for a short book, but it might help you make $25,000 at your writing next year, as I did this year by paying heed to advice like this. I thank you Kris. We don't know each other, and you didn't think of yourself as my recovery sponsor, but that is just what you've been. My name is ____ and I haven't had a critique in three years.
Even thirty-year veterans need to hear that writing is learned by doing, and perfectionism is deadly. We're hesitant to make our mistakes in public, but Rusch emphasizes the critical difference between "perfect" and "as good as I can make it right now." There are some critical insights here about the unhelpful things institutionalized in a lot of creative writing programs, that dovetail neatly with early-career writers' own sense that they're "not there yet."