Most of our young writers have been working hard over the past few weeks, completing their competition entries for various challenges coming up. Some find the first draft the hardest part of the process whereas others struggle when it comes to editing and redrafting the same piece over and again until it is perfect. There is a line that is drawn to reach that perfection and I have had to pull the reigns on some of my students who don’t know when to stop.
Searching for that perfection in writing is, to some degree, pointless. I can hear many of you disagreeing with me but hear me out on why I think this way.
Perfection is subjective: every reader brings their own perceptions of what they want to see, feel and engage with in any written piece. I have felt the despondency of watching my tutors tear my writing apart because they hate the genre I have chosen or because they expect my characters to survive when someone is bound to die in my story! Every piece I submit is written and redrafted to the point of turning itself inside out, trying the avoid the pitfalls of poor writing. Yet, I still feel that sting when the reviews come in. At the same time, those that enjoy the genre I write in thoroughly engage with the piece and enjoy the trauma of losing a favourite character, feeling the loss is an essential part of the realism of the story. In the same way, when I am preparing my young writers for competition challenges, I make sure they are aware of what the editors want. That is important. Some may have strengths in the form of writing submitted whereas others keep second guessing themselves. My role as a mentor is to ensure that each writer enjoys the process of creating their piece. I am there to encourage them, to follow the guidelines and set tasks to edit the piece so that the requirements are effortlessly covered during drafting and redrafting. It is my purpose to ensure that no writer feels burn out, especially at such a young age, just from writing a competition piece. Yes, it is a competition. Yes, we do have to bring our best, but it is not worth all the prizes in the world to discourage a young writer from believing in their own voice and style just to enter a perfect piece.
This is part of the ethos of EDS Writers Club and after last week’s pressure of submitting our competition entries, I am going to make sure my writers have fun this week to remind them of the many reasons why writing is wonderful. One day, in the distant future, it is my dream to see the names of one of my writers up there with the likes of J.K. Rowling, Roald Dahl, Cressida Cowell, and so many more accomplished authors. Well, that is the dream, anyway. Their love of writing about the places in their imaginations and their ability to create those new fantastic worlds is what will get them there – that will be the perfection we are searching for.