Revisions

When it comes to writing, revisions ain’t easy. You need to read your own work objectively. And that can be hard, especially if you consider yourself Shakespeare’s spawn. Or if the thought of changing an adjective sends you into panic mode. Or worse, that seeing your work objectively will only prove your deepest fear – that what you’ve written isn’t very good. (Most writers – even the established ones – share this fear.)

Time to suck it up, aspiring writers. Learning how to see your work objectively is absolutely essential if you’re going to get anywhere. In fact, it could be the most important skill you develop as a writer. So how do you learn to read your work objectively?

Read

Sounds simple, but the more you read other people’s writing, the more you develop an understanding of what works – and what doesn’t. When you read something that blows you away, ask why. Same goes for writing that leaves you cold. Good reading habits give you context for your own writing.

Say it

There’s your internal voice (the one that’s telling you what to write), but there’s also your external voice. Often, what we write can sound different when we read it out loud. Hearing your words – rather than just reading them – can highlight both weak spots and the times your writing shines.

Separate the good from the bad

When it comes to your writing, everyone will have an opinion about what you should or shouldn’t do. Your task is to separate the insightful critiques from the not-so insightful critiques. Ask yourself: Is the person’s feedback based on how they would write my story? Do I admire this person’s writing? Is his or her advice making me feel empowered or hopeless? Choose the people you listen to carefully.

Fuggedaboutit

When you’re finished something, put it away and don’t come back to it until you’ve forgotten the process of writing it. When you do come back to it, you’ll be able to see your work through the eyes of a stranger, which should shed light on your story’s strengths and weaknesses.