The beginning writer is tempted to write everything at once. To impress his audience he uses words that he may not always fully understand, and devices that seem forced, dragged against their will and wedged awkwardly in a sentence where even they know they don’t belong.
There are writers, and then there are those who write. The writer is he who has practiced his craft for as long as he can remember, pulling words and phrases out of thin air and trying his best to construct something that will (hopefully) make sense. Unless, of course, the object is for it not to make sense at all. But those who choose to dedicate their lives to the craft of writing know when a story has ended before it even begins — and so they crumble the sheet and toss it, or they delete the file and start over. Either that, or they choose to take a different approach. Move sentences around, take out unnecessary paragraphs, et cetera. Beginning writers sometimes fail to see when a story, or a poem or novel, aren’t working. They continue to write weak scenes, cliched characters, and when it comes to the revision process they find themselves having to hack at these things with vicious brutality.
It’s an important strategy — for established and novice writers alike — to be conscious of our own work. Writers, like most artists, tend to believe that all of their work is flawless. We tend to get defensive when someone dares to criticize our “masterpieces”, and so overtime we might start to lose confidence in our own skill. It’s important that we know from the outset that our work isn’t, and will never be, anything close to perfect. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive toward perfection, but we need to know that it is something unattainable. We do not write in order to produce perfection. Instead, our goal every time we sit down to write anything should be to inspire, to educate. To open a reader’s eyes and keep them that way, so that our audience becomes so immersed and absorbed in our words that they are taken aback when the poem/story/book is finished, and find themselves wanting so desperately to return.
Writing is a way of spreading universal messages, a chance to stand on the pinnacle of the world and say what is yours so that everyone can potentially listen. Such work comes with responsibility, so it goes without saying that we need only put forth our best work for the effort. Write a first draft, and a second, and a third. Only when you are sure you have given it your all can you then rest assured that it has potential. Potential, and not perfection. Recognize the difference. It will make you so that you do not break.