July 25, 2012

Evaluating Our Own Work, Part Four

Posted in self-evaluation tagged , at 3:35 pm by Rebecca Hein

The most important advice I ever received about evaluating my own work was from Ron Kenner. He’d just finished editing what I thought was the final version of my book, A Case of Brilliance.

He said, “It feels thin.”

After struggling with my revisions for a few weeks, I called him and asked, “How can I tell where to fill it out without tearing it all down and starting over?”

“Just read it through and listen for the places that call out for more detail,” he replied.

It wasn’t quite that easy, but close. I did indeed find that I could listen to my writing the way I listened to my cello playing, and could tell where more work was needed.

July 18, 2012

Evaluating Your Own Work, Part Three

Posted in self-evaluation tagged , at 6:42 pm by Rebecca Hein

Small problems like punctuation, style, and usage are not the only distractions in reading through our own work. Certainly they buzz around me like a cloud of gnats when I only want to focus on larger questions of structure and the content of my narrative.

The big question is, How does this flow, and am I on the right track yet? Probably I succeed in figuring this out eventually, yet I can’t seem to brush aside that cloud of gnats. Consequently my mind wants to scatter in fifty different directions when all I want to do is evaluate my latest piece of writing.

July 11, 2012

Evaluating Your Own Work, Part Two

Posted in First Drafts, organizing your writing, self-evaluation tagged , , at 10:11 am by Rebecca Hein

The multiple distractions of evaluating our own writing help to explain why this is such a difficult job. Small mistakes jump out at us; then we have to stop and fix them or make a note to come back later. Larger problems of structure and writing style also emerge, bothering us with the indecision of “Do I try to fix this now, or continue reading?”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat down with a chapter or a whole section of a current manuscript, planning to read it all the way through to try to get a sense of the whole, then being sidetracked by all the small yet important problems I encounter.

July 4, 2012

Evaluating Your Own Work, Part One

Posted in self-consciousness, self-evaluation tagged , at 2:24 pm by Rebecca Hein

To evaluate our own writing is one of the most difficult tasks we face. Not only must we figure out if the quality of our writing is good enough, we also have to discern whether or not the content is right.

Did your plot take the right direction? If you’re writing nonfiction, were the ideas stated clearly?

As one of my cello teachers observed, “Listening to your own playing is like looking into a mirror: you can’t judge your work the way you could somebody else’s.”