I absolutely love hopping on a Twitter two or three times a day to check in with all my #amwriting colleagues from across the globe. They really motivate me with their anecdotes, quotes and out and out enthusiasm. Occasionally I even get to help someone in return.
This has happened a few times over the last week, and a similar theme seems to be emerging that others have found useful. I thought I’d blog about it and share it with you good people in the hopes it will help you too.
The message is simple. The Venus de Milo didn’t start out looking like this:
In actual fact it started out looking something like this:
As Michelangelo is quoted as saying, “I saw the angel in the marble, and carved him until I set him free.” I believe that some of the best literature has been carved out a whole pile of words that have been chipped away at in order to reveal the masterpiece underneath.
Keeping this in mind, there are some important lessons to be learned from this:
- Writer’s Block – can be a thing of the past. It’s not that you can’t find words, any more than Michelangelo was unable to source marble, it’s that you are looking too hard for the right ones. Just verbally throw up all over the page, even if you swear at it, and I promise you, eventually the ideas and the right words will come.
- Editing – The single most important thing about being an author isn’t even the writing itself; it’s the editing. It may sound tedious, but it really needn’t be. It’s running your expert fingers along the curves and crevasses of your work, chipping off the unnecessary and polishing the dull until it shines. Good editing can be the difference between the Venus de Milo and something you bought at your local garden centre.
I have found that I cannot edit directly on the screen. I print it out each time and comb through it with a red pen (I have quite a collection). I correct typos, cut the unnecessary, re-phrase the awkward, and juggle the order so it scans. Sometimes it can take as many as five drafts for me to be happy enough with it to move on, but it really is worth it. I get an enormous sense of satisfaction when it’s done.
So, let’s all start throwing down some marble slabs, and set free a whole host of angels from within!