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:~: Wednesday, June 14, 2006 :~:

Write, write, write

If you're a blog-hopper, you'll have noticed a mantra lately..."The only way to be a better writer is to write, write, write."

I disagree.

If you write, write, write without stopping to reflect on your work, or look around the writing/publishing community, or get feedback, or compare yourself to other talented writers, you'll keep writing on the same level, keep making the same mistakes. Your characters might change, your plots may differ, but the depth of your work will stay the same. You'll reach a plateau and remain there. If you don't devote time to the other aspects of becoming a better writer...you'll just keep writing in a circle, never going deeper, never getting better.

There is soooooo much involved in becoming a better writer:
  • reading--fiction and non-fiction, in and out of your genre
  • learning the craft--books, articles, classes, discussion
  • reasearch--setting, psychology, speech patterns, history (this list could go on forever)
  • critique--of your work by others as well as critting other's work
  • knowing the market--agents, editors, trends
I agree that if you don't write, you won't hone your skills. To grow as a writer there is no way to get around the grueling work of getting from "Once upon a time" to "The End"--struggling through the plot holes, smoothing out the rough dialogue, deepening the character traits until the h/h/v jump off the page.

But I also know that if you write, write, write without stopping to give these other elements of writing time and attention, your skills will not progress as quickly or develop as deeply as they would had you paused long enough to nurish your growing ability.

As there is no substitute for experience, there is also no substitute for making time to study other facets of writing.

I've always been a proponent of education. I take 2-3 online courses on writing each month. I read several articles on writing each day. I participate in several writing-related message boards. I try to get out to the writing blogs to see what other writers/editors/agents are saying. I listen to my crit partners (most of the time). I participate in a local writing group. I critique others work. I enter contests. I judge contests. I pay attention to the market reports. I listen to my agent when she suggests changes.

Education comes in all shapes and sizes. And while the actual act of getting words down on paper (or screen) is vitally important (obviously), I urge you to make time to refine the other skills involved in taking your talent to the next level.


Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Great post, J. And so true.

Writing is a balance of everything you mentioned - critting, classes, reading, studying the market. My DH has a saying he uses all the time. "Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." I think in this case (as in others) that rings true.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Paty Jager said...

I have found I need to attend workshops on writing, when I try to read the "how to" books I blank out and don't get much out of them. But I do go to blogs (this one - keeping putting out good stuff!) enter contests, judge contests and glean all I can from my online chapter and I do take some online workshops. I'll do more when I no longer have a day job, but it is hard to get that much in and do my three part time jobs.

I agree it isn't just writing, it is learning and bringing you writer to a higher level each book you write.

8:24 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

3 part time jobs...you sound like me. I have 3 as well (if you count writing, which I don't get paid for but consider a job none-the-less.) What do you do? And do you count your writing as one of those pt jobs?

Paty, send me your email so I can ship out your book -- you were our winner last week!! :-)

1:20 PM  

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