Maturity for Writers

For writers, I think there are two kinds of maturity. There's the usual kind of maturity that everyone else has, and there's maturity that deals specifically with your writing. And I think it's pretty essential that you get up to a certain level of writing maturity before you ever hope to increase your actual writing skill.

Writing maturity means a few things. It determines how you deal with critique, how you give critique, how you deal with other writers' successes and failures, and most importantly, the view you take on your own writing.

The normal kind of maturity that everyone has is normally linked to writing maturity, but not always. I've seen people who are the most mature people in the world--until they get critique on their writing, and they turn into a petulant toddler. I've also seen people who aren't the most mature person ever, but take critique like a champ and generally have a critical but understanding eye for their own work. And I've also met people who don't have either. (I tend to avoid them.)

From what I've seen, the people who have a high level of writing maturity are the ones that progress that fastest in terms of their writing skill. They're open to all kinds of critique, they're generous with their gratitude, and they're down-to-earth about their stories. (At least on the inside; it's okay to have a giant ego about your writing sometimes--it's called self-motivation.) Because of this, they're more flexible. They grow with each piece of critique, and they realize that they aren't the Big Kahuna of Writing Knowledge. They're humble, but not stupid. They know what's good for their story and what's not.

One person I know who has a high level of writing maturity is my CP, Leigh Ann. I got to read both her first and second MSs, and I was floored by her increase in skill between them. Part of that increase was because she's a hard worker. The other part came from her openness to critique and her discerning eye when it comes to what her stories do and don't need. She is always very thankful when receiving critique and generous when doling it out. (Seriously -- just look at her CP Fanbase. And don't contradict me, L. We are basically your fanbase.)

People with little or no writing maturity stagnate. They can't rise to their full potential because they aren't open to the fact that someone else's knowledge and expertise can help them. When you're at this point, the most crucial thing you can do is mature. Mature with critique, mature with your writing.

Basically, what I'm saying is,

DON'T BE A DOUCHEBAG.

That's pretty much it.

15 comments:

  1. Learning to deal with constructive criticism takes time, but if you don't accept you can't get everything right the first time, you're in for a lot of hurt when people tell you some hard truths.

    You don't have to like it, but you better learn to take it - the faster the better too!

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    1. Exactly! It's tough to do, but once you get there you can do the important part of everything, and start improving your writing.

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  2. Whoa. Chess, I'm floored by this. THANK YOU.

    Seriously, I think that writing a book seems like such a cool thing to people that a lot of them think they deserve a freaking medal just for finishing one. But writing a book is a lot like showing up to all the soccer games or having perfect attendance at school. It's nice that you did it and all, and it took some effort, I supposed, but it's gonna take a shit ton of hard work to make a splash at it.

    The crazy thing is that we know that our books aren't gonna be perfect the first time we send them off to CPs *gulp* but we have to suspend that knowledge in order to work our butts off to craft something we're proud of. YES. Even BEFORE we send to CPs, it should be as perfect as we can get it. And that's the biggest thing about maturity, I think - striving for perfection while knowing that you can never attain it. It's a tough balance. But those of us who totally kick ass (I'm looking at you, crit group) have pretty well mastered it.

    And, well, that's something. :D

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    1. As usual, I agree with all of the above. ^_^

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    2. Bless this post and Leigh Ann's comment~ :)

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  3. Great post! It's important to keep these things in mind and self-evaluate every once in a while. :)

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    1. Thanks! You're totally right -- sometimes even I have to take a step back and make sure I'm being open to crit while also knowing what's good for my story and what's not. It gets harder and harder to tell, especially when you're querying and not getting any requests. >.<

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  4. Taking criticism is important, but also learning which to take and which to ignore. I think learning to write better is a never ending process.

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    1. Too true! Like L said -- part of writing is striving for perfection when you know you can never attain it.

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  5. So true. I was in a class with an older lady who kept insisting, "But that's not how it really happened!" as her piece of "fiction" was workshopped.

    *head to desk*

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    1. >.< And this is why I try to stay away from writing classes and the like. I know they're helpful for some people, but I'm much better at dealing with stubborn people over the internet.

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  6. So true! Creative maturity is essential in illustration too. One can't make any kind of art (writing included) without improving and one can't improve without accepting suggestions and criticisms.

    The people who don't want suggestions or crit in creative careers (like writing and illustration) often hit a ceiling and usually don't make a living off what they produce. They end up doing a regular job and having a little group of people who appreciate them, but nothing more.

    Now the people who always strive to improve, THOSE people are going places!

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    1. I completely agree! We can never perfect our work on our own, as much as we wish we could.

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  7. Great post, and so true! It sounds like you're lucky to have found each other! :)

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