When Writing Gets Difficult: Chasing Perfection

I'm planning on using all or part of Act I of my novel as my writing sample when applying to low-residency MFA programs, or maybe not. It gives gatekeepers an opportunity to judge my novel writing abilities, and I can leave them wanting more by ending the sample at a critical moment in the story. This could work for or against me. 

I read a blog post in which, if I recall correctly, a few MFA professors said they didn't like getting novel samples because it was too distracting to be left hanging. There might have been other reasons, but I can't remember them now. 

So I'm torn. (Really. I'm pulling my hair out.)

Maybe I'm making this harder than it is, but I agonize over every little aspect of applying. I only get one shot--with each program I apply to--at wowing them enough that they will seriously consider me for their program. And, let me be candid, the more I learn about what makes good writing and the more I practice the art and craft of writing, the worse I feel my writing skills are. Put another way, the harder it is to write.

Recently I saw a quote from Tim O'Brien making the rounds on Twitter: "Writing doesn't get easier with experience. The more you know, the harder it is to write." At least I know I'm not alone. 

I just have one other problem. I'm never done tweaking. Every time I reread my work, I find something else I can make better; a word, a phrase, a typo... Is it EVER finished? There comes a time to let go anyway.

Do you find good writing gets harder the more you practice and learn?

Do you have any experience to share about applying to MFA programs?


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