Up the writing learning curve – the need for a trusted reader

I thought I knew how to write. After all, I have a reasonable knowledge of English grammar and punctuation, I can string a sentence or two together, I can write with clarity and I can write to the point – that’s part of my job after all – I am a lawyer of the plain English school. But, since deciding to give this writing thing a go I have been astounded by how much I do not know.

I feel like I have been on a non-stop learning curve. I like to educate myself on whatever it is that I am doing and as you know I have read quite a few books on writing. I started to do this while also writing the first draft of my novel so imagine my surprise as I realised that my brilliant first few chapters fell foul of almost every mistake these books said were commonly made by beginner writers. Unwilling to believe that my writing could be that bad I asked my husband to read them and tell me what he thought.

And he did.

What he told me, although he didn’t have the technical writing terminology, was that I was telling not showing and jumping around far too much in terms of points of view.

At first I wondered whether I should get a more sophisticated* reader to read the chapters. Perhaps my husband just didn’t get what I was trying to do. It was a shame, I had wanted him to be my “trusted reader.” How sad that this wasn’t to be. I read another book on writing. I thought about what my husband had said. I re-read my chapters. I thought about it some more. I paid more attention to the novel I was reading at the time, considered how the author conveyed information it was necessary for me to know, how he used points of view. I thought about what my husband had said again.

Then I sat down and completely re-wrote my first few chapters.

So my husband had told me something I didn’t want to hear. He had deflated my writing bubble a bit. Brought me back to the ground. But I needed to hear it and, once I had digested it and decided on a way forward, it resulted in a definite writing improvement. Since then he has read everything I have written (apart from this blog where I am going it alone – I don’t want to push his good nature too far) and he gives me comments. Some of them are difficult to hear but increasingly they are encouraging and every single one helps me shape whatever I am writing into the best version it can be. My bubble is round and shiny again but it is grounded in the reality of the fact that I still have a lot to learn. That my writing needs practise and time to develop.

My husband is my trusted reader, as well as my friend, life partner and sharer of parenthood. How lucky I am to have all of that in one person.

What about you, do you have a trusted reader? Or a trusted person? Someone who tells you where you are going wrong and helps you find the right direction whether in writing or in life? Please do share your thoughts on this below.

My plan is to post a couple more posts on what I have been learning since starting this writing thing. I do hope that they will be of some interest to you all!

*My husband is quite sophisticated. He reads a lot. I, however, am often wrong.

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