Yesterday, Elana did a snazzy post about it takes practice. Go on, read the post, and then hop back here.
The whole concept, whether playing the piano, painting, gymnastics, writing, or whatever, is that, well . . . it takes practice. The brilliant writing that we all do, that we are all capable of doing, doesn't just happen.
We hone our craft . . . constantly.
We write, write, write . . . write, and keep on writing.
Sometimes, we write doody. We have to move past the doody and keep on writing. We also have to remember that doody is a useful part of life. I mean, what is fertilizer, after all, except a big pile of doody that makes plants flourish and show their brilliance! So, writing doody is just a reminder of how much better we can write.
In my comment to Elana I wrote something to the effect . . . every novel is a practic novel, but some of those novels become a performance at symphony hall (or something to that effect - sorry, forget to copy/paste that lovely comment - whoops!!).
Some of the novels are just doody.
And still other novels are . . . well something I must keep practicing at until they are ready for performance at Symphony Hall . . . or should I say . . . Publishers Hall!!!
I have learned that distance (yes, it took me a bit, but I'm getting to the point/title of this post) is the greatest tool a writer (perhaps any artist) can possess, well, that and a heck of a lot of patience.
Still, distance is key to writing. Sometimes, we have to set our practice materials aside and move on to something else, so that we can look at the stuff we set aside with better clarity.
I wrote what I thought was a great novel. It was good, not great. I've recently begun relooking at the project with more clarity. I know that it is not working in its current format. I also know it's not a big pile of doody. It needs a bit more practicing. Heck, it needs a lot more practicing.
So, when you've written something that you think is brilliant - well, send it off to the crit group, step away from it, and look at it a month or so later. It might not be brilliant, it's probably not doody, and with a little bit more practice, it might be Publisher Hall worthy at some future date.
Give yourself the distance from your writing so that you truly can look at it with a sense of clarity. Examine the structure of the novel. Is everything working? What's not working? How can you, in the words of Timm Gunn from Project Runway . . . make it work???