I just finished writing my comments in response to a novella one of my crit buddies passed around our local group. In assessing his piece, I realized that I would be a far better writer if I could bring that kind of distance to my own revision process.
I'm pretty good at editing, and I can usually find both the micro (grammar, spelling, sentence level issues etc) and the macro (plot holes, pacing, emotion, setting, etc), but I have trouble seeing the middle ground--issues at the scene level that I need to improve in order to take my writing from good to outstanding.
One of the things I know, but need to do a better job integrating into my writing, is that everything in each scene has to serve multiple purposes. If something is there, it needs to be relevant. If it's left out, then that's relevant too. That goes for every word choice, every non-verbal beat, every description, every POV choice, and every action.
Right now, I'm struggling with voice and how to bring my characters more clearly to life. I think I have plotting and worldbuilding pretty much down. My sentence level writing is solid. I know how to look for pacing problems and how to fix them. But *voice.* That's so much harder. My own voice keeps intruding.
And I'm starting to wonder if that's what is keeping my work from selling.