When I started my writing journey, I had it in my head that I was going to be the one writer who never made mistakes. I was going to write the best characters, tell the most amazing stories, and all without a single flaw or error in my writing.
Boy, was I disabused of that notion in a hurry! By the time I finished publishing In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent, I had learned just how fallible I was.
When Blade of the Destroyer came into being, I quickly saw how much I had to learn. After having the book sliced and diced by the world’s best beta readers, I ended up re-writing an entire third of the book. Book 2 was only slightly less flawed, and I had to do a lot of re-writing to make the story work.
Now, as I’m working on Book 3 in The Last Bucelariiseries, I’ve come to a simple understanding: it’s not a bad thing to make mistakes, as long as you’re willing to admit that they really are mistakes and correct them.
I wrote Book 3 with a very definite goal in mind. I wanted to show that the main character, the Hunter, was making some progress as a human being. After the events of Books 1 and 2, there was a slight crack in his “tough guy” façade. But, like the human being that I am, I went a bit too far and made him “too human”. I gave him all these attributes and personality traits I’d expect of someone in that situation, without actually thinking about how HE would react.
Now that I’m re-drafting, I’m having to do a lot more re-writing than I’d expected. Thanks to my amazing alpha-readers, I’m changing the ending, adding another 10,000 or so words to the story, and changing some pretty core elements of the story. The result will be a better book, but it’s a lot of work.
But imagine how different things would be if I was so worried about making mistakes that I clung to my idea of what I believed to be “right”! Book 1 would have sucked right out of the gate, and none of the later books would get any better. After all, I would have stubbornly clung to my idea of perfection, and there would have been no room for improvement.
Let this be a lesson for all of us: making mistakes are a good thing. Once you understand that, you start to see them as a learning experience. When I sit down to write Book 4 (which I plan to start before the end of this year), I’m going to keep the lessons I learned from writing Books 1 through 3 in mind. When I write Book 5, I’ll have the addition of lessons from Book 4. All the mistakes I will have made will help me to be better as a writer, and it will be easier to adapt, change, and improve.
Don’t be so stuck on perfection that you can’t handle mistakes! Mistakes are a GREAT thing, provided you are willing to correct and improve. The more mistakes you make, the more you learn from them. See mistakes as a good thing, and you will mature and improve far faster than you would getting it right every time!