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Friday, March 24, 2017

Ignoring the Urge To Rush

By Linda Lovely

Spring officially arrived this year on March 20. Tell that to my azaleas and Loropetalum. My blueberries, roses, and hydrangeas didn’t get the message either. In February, all these plants and more rushed ahead, putting out blossoms and shoots of new growth. Fooled by a stretch of super warm winter days and balmy nights, the shrubs got in too big a hurry. A March cold spell severely punished their impatience.  

Not this year! 

While I’ll still have blueberries this year, the crop won’t be as plentiful as last year. For the most part, my plants will survive despite the ugly dieback of withered fresh growth. Nonetheless, our yard will not be dressed in its regular showy cloak of red, pink and white blossoms this spring. I’ll have to wait another year for my springtime fix.

But maybe there’s a lesson in the wilted brown of the leaves and the death of the blooms. It seldom pays to rush. It’s human nature to want to hurry up and “get to the good stuff, the fun stuff.” But it’s an urge that I’m trying to ignore.

How might rushing backfire for a writer? Here are three ways.

Research. It’s entirely possible to devote so much time to researching that one never gets around to writing. However, the reverse is more often true. We assume we understand technology, courtroom or police procedures because of our exposure to TV or online posts. Always take the time to check with authoritative sources. That’s one reason I’m a huge fan (and staff volunteer) for the annual Writers’ Police Academy. The WPA offers a unique opportunity to question experts and gain first-hand experience with everything from long guns to fingerprinting.     

Editing. All the authors I know go through multiple drafts before they are willing to call their novels “finished.” Yet, I find a “cooling off” period between drafts is not time wasted. Spending a week working on unrelated tasks before embarking on that final edit lets you see the characters, plot, and language with fresh eyes.

Publishing. When we first start sending queries to agents and/or publishers, we’re tempted to take the first offers we receive. That response can be born out of fear we won’t get a better response and will be spinster novelists. Or it can reflect our desire to rush our babies out into the literary world. However, no author should take a leap of faith into the arms of an agent or publisher out of fear or impatience.  

Are you guilty of rushing in any of these areas? 

3 comments:

Deb Noone said...

Such good advice all around. And so sorry about your blossoms. Having grown up in DC, I looked forward to the beautiful azaleas everywhere. here in Maine, they are not as plentiful. I have to travel south to get my fix. NE is still covered in snow and more on the way next week, but then the warmth will come soon and so will the shoots. Back to editing and trying not to rush the process :-) Letting it all sink in, before I reread it again.

Judith Ashley said...

Linda, much wisdom for writers in this post. I tend to write and then during one of my editing passes do the research. Doing it up front diminishes the joy I get from writing new words. I totally agree that some time between editing passes is the best way to put forth our best work.

Linda Lovely said...

Deb, hope your spring is beautiful. Judith and Deb, I hope I am learning from my own mistakes. I think so.