Tuesday, June 30

Loving My Own Words

I was talking to Liz this morning on G-chat, as we do nearly every morning and discovered we’d both been working on our WIPs. She said she’d been reading what she’d already written, and she told me, “I really love it. That’s so nice when you go back and like your own stuff.”

I had to agree. And as so often happens with Liz and me, I had done the same exact thing yesterday—reread what I’d already written, fell in love with the story again, and actually wrote another chapter. I have to confess, I am one of those writers who needs to do that—read what I wrote previously in order to get into writing mode. I sometimes wondered if that’s because I’m an editor in my heart (and in my day job), but I don’t think I’m the only writer who works this way.

When I’ve been away from my story for more than a couple of days, rereading even just what I wrote the last time I was working on it brings me back into that world. I get into the story again, feel the characters again, maybe even discover something that needs to be changed or added to that previously written material. It’s a reacquainting process that, for me anyway, is necessary to continue writing.

But to get to the rest of what Liz said—the “I really love it” part? That struck a chord in me  because so many of writers are shy about saying those words about their own work. I think because in some weird way we have been programmed not to praise our own work, and isn’t that silly? Naturally we are proud of a novel we’ve spent months writing, but to say those words out loud feels self-aggrandizing, doesn’t it? When I say, “I love this story!” about my own WIP, I’m also saying, “I love my writing,” which is something I’d probably not confess to anyone but Liz and even then I’d reword it. “I really like these characters.” or “I’m enjoying writing another story in River’s Edge because it’s such a great setting.” Never the words, “I love my writing voice.” or “I love how I put words together to tell a story.”

It felt terrific to be writing and making progress on my new River’s Edge story after a few days away from it. Why does that take me by surprise time and time again? Even though I love the editing work I do, you’d think I would realize that what makes life work for me is writing. That when I’m not writing, I’m not happy. How hard is that concept, really?

Fellow writer, Anne Stuart, once said, “Everything in my life is filtered through my writing. There is no me without it.” I have those words on a sticky note on my desktop to remind me how to fix the restless times, the times when I’m overwhelmed with editing and need to center Nan again, because you know what, I am a great writer. Liz, we are great writers! 

Talk to me, writers, do you reread before you begin a new writing session? Does it help center you back into the story or do you just charge ahead with the story already moving along in your head?

Stay well, mes amies, stay safe!


  1. The first thing I do when I open the file is reread and correct what I did the day before. If I'm solving a problem, I may go back further than that. In the case we talked about yesterday, it had been three weeks, so I had to start from the...start. It's sometimes a good thing to do just for your ego's sake, as in, it's NOT dreck!

  2. This is so timely for me, Nan. A few weeks ago, I got back to work on a manuscript I literally hadn't looked at in eight months. When I'd left off, I was about eight chapters in, so to get back into the groove of the story, I had to go back and read it from the beginning. Not surprisingly, I found myself revising as I read, but I also found myself pleasantly surprised with the story. On a few occasions, I thought, "This is pretty good." It was a pleasant surprise. Amazing how reluctant we are at giving ourselves credit. Cheers!

  3. Yes, we're very reluctant to give ourselves credit. Like J.C. I've re-read things I've written after a long time away and found it was much better than I thought it was. It's always a nice surprise.

  4. I'm still working on accepting compliments without some version of'it was nothing' being part of my reply. I do re-read the scene prior to wherever I'm starting with fresh writing for the same reasons you do - it puts me back into the characters and setting so much faster.

  5. Yes! I re-read my WIP over and over again. If we don't have faith in ourselves as writers and love what we've written, chances are no one else will either. And, yes, Nan, you're a great writer, as is Liz, and Margie, Kristie and Jana...and me, too! That's why we keep at it, isn't it? We know it's a gift that has been bestowed upon us and it's our responsibility to use it...and love it.

  6. One of my favorite things is pulling out an older--not yet finished--manuscript and reading it and still loving it. It gives me hope when I've become bogged down with a current project. I agree with Janie, if we don't love our own words, who will?