Writing is a craft, no question. You have to have a grasp on grammar, spelling, punctuation, all that stuff, in addition to being able to tell a good story–or maybe I should say *show* a good story. Your ability to create a realistic plot and characters has to be strong, and your writing all has to come together to somehow make sense.
When people ask my advice for aspiring writers, my answer is usually along the lines of “Learn your craft, and don’t expect to ever fully master writing, because that won’t happen. There’s always something to learn.”
I think that’s true. You have to learn so many things to be a good writer, and there’s always room for improvement. Unfortunately, there’s also room for backsliding.
Back in April, I set myself a goal of submitting 16 writing projects, including a few freebies, between April 30 and October 31. That was probably too much, and real life knocked me upside the head a few times as I was working on those projects, so I wasn’t able to focus as well as I would have liked. I became sloppy and rushed. Even though I’d learned a lot about the craft of writing since my first e-book was published in early 2009, I started forgetting some of what I’d learned, or making new mistakes to replace the ones I’d trained myself out of.
Because of that habit, instead of receiving acceptances, I’m getting requests to revise stories and submit them so the publisher can take another look. Which is better than outright rejections, but still, some of the things they’re mentioning in those requests are things I know better than to do in my writing. Stuff like too much telling, or not enough details in the setting and characters’ appearances. Having the characters do things that are out of character for them.
I’m still dealing with real life stress, and that’s making it hard for me to focus. I’ve backed off on new projects for a while,except for a couple of short stories I’ve promised, and am focusing on the revise/resubmit requests I’ve gotten in the past couple months. Hopefully as I work through those, I’ll rebuild my skills as a writer and recover my ability to focus. (The steps I’m taking to get rid of the real life stress will help with that too, I hope.) So I have learned my craft, it’s just that I seem to have forgotten it temporarily.
I will learn again, though. And after a few months, I’ll start a new project that will be even better for the time I’ve taken to relearn what I need to know.