Note to Self: Trust Your Writer’s Instinct

08 Jan

When I first started as a creative writer, I took a lot of classes and workshops. I was so close to my own writing, so invested in my lofty goals, I often failed to see my own shortcomings. Even when I did, I was quite good at rationalizing them away, hoping no one else would notice. I needed an instructor or classmate to point out cliches, poor word choices, logic gaps, unintentional humor or total lack of humor, flat characters, lack of texture, and all the other things that can make your writing a bore.

Receiving criticism and using it to make my work better helped me learn to find those problems for myself. Critiquing my classmates’ writing allowed me to develop an even sharper eye for all those details, and eventually I got to the point that I didn’t really need anyone to show me where my work was falling short. In almost every case, the things they circled and outlined and questioned on my drafts were things I already knew weren’t right. I may not have known just how to fix them, but I was aware that they needed to be fixed.

I still get feedback from my writing friends and from some great readers I’m fortunate to have in my life, but I don’t depend on it. Instead, I’ve learned to be my own best critic. Rarely does my writer’s instinct let me down.

Go write something!


Posted by on January 8, 2012 in Fiction, Writing


4 responses to “Note to Self: Trust Your Writer’s Instinct

  1. Avery

    January 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Question: After you read and read and re-read your works so many times, do you feel you become blind to some of the possible weaknesses in your works? If so, how do you avoid that?

    • Candice L Davis

      January 8, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      Good question. I have a couple of tricks to get around those problems. One, I read the work out loud. That allows me to catch typos and get a sense for the rhythm of the language. Two, I take a break from the work for a few hours, or even a few days. A little distance always helps me to catch things I might otherwise miss.

      Don’t get me wrong. I still love to have a second pair of eyes look over things, especially for typos, but when I’m generating work at a fast pace, that isn’t always possible.

  2. annewoodman

    February 7, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Candice, I just found your blog and can relate to much of what you’re writing about. I just blogged (yesterday) about my awful first chapter and the writing group help I’ve received over the years. I think you’re right… I’ve been writing my entire adult life, and I do know when something is wrong with what I’ve written. But I’ve gotten some very helpful feedback from writing friends on how to move forward when I’m stuck in a rut. I’m so thankful!

    • Candice L Davis

      February 8, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      Great to meet you, Anne. Most of my writing friends are so deeply into their own projects right now, I’ve pulled back from asking them to read my work. However, I’ve gotten incredibly helpful feedback from some people who are just readers, including my 13 year old daughter.


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