Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Ally of Process

Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
~ Samuel Beckett


Writing is craft, a skill, requiring practice and patience. Like all skills, it takes time to master. We must learn to recognize and celebrate ANY sign of progress on our journey closer to mastery. According to Jim Burke, insecure and confident writers possess particular characteristics.
Insecure Writers

* rigid in approach
* may still be deciding if they want to do/be this
* may not know what to do to improve performance
* tend not to take risks

Confident Writers

* extremely flexible
* innovative
* able and willing to improvise
* take risks
* self-assess constantly
* rarely satisfied with own performance
* know what to do to improve

Regardless of which category we fit into, there is a path we can follow to better writing - it's called Process. The writing process is a friend of good stories. Tom Romano puts it beautifully when he says, "We don't have to remain alone in trying to sustain faith and remain fearless. An ally stands ready to help us, an ally who will never desert us if we keep faith. That ally is process."

Which category usually feels the most like you?

37 comments:

Summer said...

I'd say the confident writer, though I'm not sure I own all those traits, necessarily. "Extremely flexible"? C'mon, I can barely touch my toes... ;-)

storyqueen said...

I like where it says confident writers self-assess constantly.

Very true, I think.

Shelley

Tamika: said...

I am rarely satisifed with my own performance, that's for sure!

Thanks for giving me something to mull over.

Jen said...

I'd say I'm a kick ass writer! Oh wait that wasn't one of the choices... I would say that I'm a confident writer!

I definitely take risks and know that later on they will have to be tweaked but while writing them they feel awesome! When I know something doesnt work at that moment I leave it and move on while I let it marinate and mold to something I can use later. Definitely improving there!

Amazing post!

Courtney Barr - The Southern Princess said...

Ask me a year ago and my answer would have been different but now: Confident Writer. Even though I am not all of those things all the time, when it boils down to it they are at my core.

As usual thank you for the great post!

Visit My Kingdom Anytime

Portia said...

Although I'd categorize myself as the Confident Writer, the Insecure Writer is always lurking back there. Sometimes I have to beat her back ;-)

Kayeleen said...

I think I'm mostly a confident writer, but boy, does that insecure writer wish she was more pronounced sometimes.

I love the quotes you find, Shannon. They always inspire me.

Valerie Geary said...

Is cocky a choice? ;) I do have to say I'm a confident writer... though I'm not really sure why. Probably cause my dog thinks I'm the bomb. And that works for me!!! :D

CMOM Productions said...

Confidence is a beautiful thing. I can't say that I exude confidence 100% of the time though.

Carolyn V. said...

I love the process. I'm getting better and better at it all the time. One day I hope to master it. *fingers crossed* Love this post Shannon!

Mary Aalgaard said...

I guess I'm a "confident" writer. I have to say this because I AM willing to take risks. Off I go to scriptfrenzy starting tomorrow. My heart is pumping a little louder. My palms are sweaty!

Natalie Murphy said...

I'm a confident writer. I wasn't in high school, but I had one of those fabulous English teachers smack me upside the head and I got serious. (Okay, she really didn't smack me, but it was close enough).

Great post!! Sometimes we just need to be reminded of what we're not to feel better about what we are. I am a confident writer *nods*

(I just woke up, forgive my oddness darling).

E. Elle said...

Actually, I fall under "confident writer." I can't hardly believe it.

And I totally spent many a day staring at that very poster in elementary school!

Lilah Pierce said...

I would have thought that I had some qualities from the Insecure category but I have most from the Confident. When did that happen?! :) (insert whispering here - I'm from MT, too, by the way.)

Emily Ann Benedict said...

If we're serious about the craft of writing we're all in a state of progression. :) Everyone needs practice!

Agatha Christie once said that amateurs only write when they fell like it, but professionals write consistantly.
I try!

Thanks for the encouragement.

Patti Lacy said...

This is a BRILLIANT post, Shannon.
I would add one to the confident category. One who's willing to listen to writer soulmates and knows that their ear can pick up heart rhythms that you're not even aware of!!!

LOVE this blog.
Patti

Elana Johnson said...

I think I'm a pretty confident writer -- now. I throw everything out the window and do whatever I want. I'm trying to be innovative and risky, but I find when I focus too much on it, it's forced. So now I just flex my fingers, sit down, and write.

And when someone tells me I can't have present and past tense in the same sentence, I ignore them. :P

Kristi said...

I'm quite shocked to see I fall under the category of "confident writer".

I'm rarely satisified with my own performance and self-assess constantly. Yay for self-doubt! Perhaps it is a sign that I strive for more....LOL.

Thanks for the encouragement...love your blog.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I can definitely track my progression to being a confident writer. But it's a good thing patience isn't in the list. I've learned that no matter how I try to cultivate it, I'm definitely not patient!

Jessie Oliveros said...

I'm some of both. What a cop-out answer.

Sandy Shin said...

I'm definitely a little bit of both: rather rigid in my approach, because I don't know what will work for me yet, but I'm willing to improvise and am rarely (if ever) satisfied with my performance. But the latter might be speaking to the "insecure" part of writer-me rather than confident. :)

DL Hammons said...

I'm confidently insecure. :) But really, I have most of the traits of the confident writer and I try to remain positive. To do otherwise would be ambushing yourself.

Great post!

Terresa said...

What a great post. I like the reminder that the writing process is a friend. Most definitely!

sarahjayne smythe said...

I'd like to think I'm a confident writer because I say/do most everything on that list, especially feel my work is less than great. :) And I love process so this is a great post. Thanks.

PJ Hoover said...

Based on the lists, I'd say confident, but some days it doesn't feel that way :)

Wendy aka Quillfeather. said...

Great post, Shannon!

As I'm rarely satisfied with my own performance, yet know what to do to improve, I guess I'm a confident writer - yet don't think myself that.

Jemi Fraser said...

I've gained a lot more confidence in the last year or so - since I stumbled onto the online community :) One step at a time...

Kimberly Franklin said...

I'm a "in my own little world" writer. I rarely get out... I'm always too busy writing! LOL. ;)

Cheree said...

I'm glad to see I fall into the confident writer category. Heck, I'm never, ever satisfied with what I do and always try to improve it.

Jennie Englund said...

Since I'm in the thick of revision right now, I can see that scene really shines when it's tackled with courage.

I need to not hold back, to just go all-out with twist, description, to push the reader's imagination and make her question.

Am trying to, as your quote of the day encourages, fail better!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Susan -

I'd say I fall into the Confident category. When I come home from a writers conference or read a craft book, it's not unusual for me to put the lessons learned into practice.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I hope I fall in the "confident writer" category.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Love this post! You are so right! I hope you don't mind, but I had to copy the picture. After over twenty-plus years of writing I hope I'm confident. ;)

Susan Fields said...

I don't know about confident or insecure - it probably depends on the day. But I do know I write because I have to, I can't imagine life without it!

Lorel Clayton said...

I'm a confident writer...Which means I think I suck, and I'm always trying to improve what I do.

Heather said...

I'm definitely a confident writer but it took me a long time to get to that stage. Retreats and workshops have helped but what really did it was realizing how I was going to write, the details of the process. Once I got a routine down I was set. Now I'm working on editing my seventh book!

Christina Farley said...

Confident but there are times that I still don't trust myself or I see things differently than the rest of the world does. That's when my writer's group comes in handy!

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