Monday’s Writerly Quote

Doesn’t it seem like the more you learn about writing the more you realize you still have to learn? I remember the days where I thought a second or third draft would be good enough for publication. I mean, sure, there might be a few typos here or there, but once I got the initial story out, that was it. Right? Riiiiight? (Haha!)

That’s why it’s good to keep this quote in mind. From Ernest Hemingway:

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.

There may be apprentices who are far more advanced than you are, but the idea that you can master writing is foolhardy. There’s always improvements to be made and new things to learn. You do your own writing a disservice if you’re not constantly striving to become better every day you write.

Now there may be stories you have to leave in an imperfect state because that’s as far as you can take them at that time. Often you hear published authors wish they could go back and fix some things about their published novels. And that’s okay. It’s better that we get used to the idea that we’re always going to be making improvements. Always. Editing should be something we embrace and in some ways be excited for because of the greatness that will come from the polishing.

So raise a glass to yourself, fellow apprentice, and let’s keep on keeping on!

Do you agree with Mr. Hemingway? Did you used to believe a first or second draft was liquid gold from your pen? How has realizing you’ll always be improving helped you in your writing?

24 thoughts on “Monday’s Writerly Quote

  1. I think there is a draft or two where people live in the grand delusion that typos are the only thing wrong with a story. But I think that stepping out of that phase is when a writer truly starts to grow and is on their way to becoming a force.

    Anyways, to back up what you’re saying… I forget who said it, but I once heard an author say that everything he ever wrote was broken. Nothing is perfect. You just do your best to make it as unbroken as possible, You can spend forever polishing and still not reach perfection.

  2. I’ve never thought an early draft was perfect. There might be moments I love, and I might think I got the structure right, but even then I always end up changing them. Always. πŸ™‚

    As a perfectionist, it bothers me to know that nothing I do will ever be perfect. But that’s why I keep going back and revising… possibly forever.

  3. Hemingway is very right. I think every author has that phase of ‘2nd/3rd draft is perfect’, which for many turns into ‘none of my work is good enough for publishing’. I guess aspiring authors are creatures of extremes.

  4. The best thing about this idea, when it sinks in, is that you can march forward and stop worrying about being perfect. It doesn’t mean you don’t strive for it anymore. You just realize you’ve been ‘given permission’ to write because you have to in order to get better.

    • I like the idea of being “given permission” as you’ve said. It’s okay to suck at first, because you get a chance to do over, and often the do over is more phenomenal than you could imagine. That’s been my experience anyway.

  5. Some of us (ahem…me) are crippled by the thoughts that no matter how many drafts and edits we’ll never get published.

    I agree with Hemingway. I’m also always searching for his elusive perfect sentence.

    • Hey, don’t take it too far… One simply needs to put in the time and get the feedback and I’m certain eventually the stories will make it to publish-worthy status. Never give up, never surrender, right? πŸ˜€

    • Please! If that’s their biggest problem I envy them. Spelling’s an easy fix. Crafting story is the real challenge. How funny that it’s their biggest worry.

      • I know. When they say that or something similar, I know they have no understanding whatsoever what it takes to put together a story. Another popular comment is, “I’m going to write a book about my life when I retire,” as if it’s the easiest thing in the world to just sit down and write a book. Those are the same folks who’d like me to “gift” them with an autographed copy of my book. I’m going to say it’s ignorance rather than disrespect for the art of writing.

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