The Discipline of Writing

I was reading over some messages from some followers on the internet, and one question struck me pretty deeply.

“A writer can gain knowledge, style and clarity, but how does one gain discipline in the craft?”

I read this late last night, and decided that it would be best to ponder my response. After all, we are all struggling with our own place in the writing world; we each have our own reasons for writing, and wanting to write, and to take it beyond that, and attempt to refine our skills through self-discipline was something I had never been asked. I can’t say that I am overly dedicated to the craft as I probably should be… so I didn’t want to just throw out any old answer.

Having given it some thought, my response was pretty simple. I said, “Two things: recognizing that writing is not a hobby, or a weekend warrior’s game; and having a strong sense of desperation.”

I may have said the first part to get some attention; but the second part is absolutely true. For a lot of writers, the craft of writing is something that they dabble at, or attempt at doing. However, somewhere in there between writing down a whimsical story in afternoons, or in the few precious hours we have after work is not the same as truly sitting down and pushing ourselves to write a novel, or composition from start to finish. I’m not making light of those that do write only when they have the time, but when it goes from being a hobby to a job, then it needs to be approached as such, and understood as such.

Writing for me is an act of desperation. From the first word, to the very last word. I am hammering out a path in my future that I willfully want to happen. I won’t eat, or have money for my family, to say nothing of bills if I don’t push it to happen. No one else is going to write this book for me; no one will stand over my shoulder and lead me through the hard parts, and coach me to do better. The burden of responsibility rests solely on my own shoulders.

At some point, it stops being a hobby, and becames the career. For many of us, that alone is the nudge that we need to be self-disciplined. That is the straight and narrow, and that is the defining point.

And Typo Was His Name O…

So the other day I was reading over my novel, and happened to come across a word that made the sentence seem rather, I don’t know, funky and clunky sounding. Typically, when I’m writing, I try to go back and read aloud the whole thing to see how it flows and fits.

Unfortunately, when I was having this book edited and proofed before publication, a few typos managed to make their way into the text that were not only overlooked by the triple editing process, but the final proof copy I was to look over before signing off on the novel.

I have to say that I was a little unsettled by this; of course I’m not trying to have people buy a load of ilk here, so I want to make sure that they get the absolute best reading experience possible. But what about the possibility of other typos that are lurking under the pages? Well, that just wouldn’t do!

Brandishing my red pen, and mounting my steed, I rode through the pages of the novel—all two hundred and sixty-two of them—and slashed at this errant comma, or extra period; I vanquished double words, and found not only one, but two instances of wrong words used (like “hand” instead of “and”) and killed them in their tracks.

I was feeling pretty good about my take on the whole thing, and with a solid smile on my face, I sent the book off to be converted to digital format, and then to the printing presses where I would have to await the screening process, and the reviewing and then go through another bout of proofing a copy. Didn’t seem that bad really.

What was bad, however, was the fact that a mutual friend was reading over a copy of my book, and alerted me to a typo, then another.

I was near devastated. Not because I had over looked them, but because suddenly I realized first hand the insurmountable obstacles that typos have become for many readers that are skilled in either grammar, punctuation, or the editing process. Some readers in fact just have a high level of reading ability, and know what is supposed to be there, and what isn’t, they will not hesitate to call you out on it, in a heartbeat.

So what happens now?

There are two choices here: make the changes, and put out a new edition of the ebook, and hold off on the trade paperbacks until those pages are also corrected, or do nothing, and hope that whomever can live with the faults. Continue reading