Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of rewriting.
My thriller manuscript was in an editing phase, with plenty of deliberation about word choice.
I’ve heard about this stage over the years – reading articles by other writers, listening to writing podcasts and authors at festivals. It’s everything they said would be. Daunting. Hard work. Mind boggling, sometimes confusing. It can lead to second-guessing, doubt and even dejection. Occasionally, it’s led me to ask myself: ‘how did you write that?’
I haven’t let myself fall into glumness or mooch around, and I think that’s partly because of my job history.
I’ve worked in fast-paced environments where there’s no time to ruminate over feedback or take criticism personally.
Sure, it was corporate writing – but there’s still been a heck of a lot of writing, and a heck of a lot of penetrating readers. I’ve had to redraft and edit web articles, media releases, columns, captions, headlines, you name it, based on feedback. Sometimes that was tweaking a word, sometimes it was deleting paragraphs. Occasionally, it meant starting from scratch when I realised the brief had changed too dramatically for me to cling to the first draft.
I learned not to take it personally. Like a lot of ‘corporate writers’, I built resilience and composure. Sure, I might have slumped in my seat for a bit or made an angry coffee. Then I got on with the job. Deadlines and job responsibilities don’t disappear.
Above all, I learned that feedback is precious and useful. Don’t we all want to know when a sentence doesn’t work, or if we’re using too many clichés? It’s essential to know when our word choices are confusing or obscure, and if haven’t quite captured the intent.
Writing is a team sport, with the author and reader (and client) working together.
I often wish I’d returned to fiction writing earlier – yet my corporate, journalism and political career has seen me develop an outlook and maturity that’s incredibly helpful now.
Author and PR consultant.