Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Practice makes perfect

Whenever people ask for writing tips, or when I go looking for writing tips, there are a million different views on how things should be done. In the end, each process for each author is different, with some unifying themes. For me, the single best tip I can offer or that I've learned is to keep at it. Write something every day.

Yes, that's me....
Much like a pianist needs to practice every day to play well, or a golfer needs to practice that short shot onto the green 65 times to get it right, or you take 100 forehand shots to learn placement, writing is no different. We learn by repetition. We get better by training every day. One of my friends has a 1,000 words a day goal. If she does more, that's a bonus, but it gives her a focus to sit down and get the story written. It also keeps her writing crisp and sharp.

"But Karla, I work a full-time job. I don't always have time to write every day." Guess what? I have a full-time job, and there are times during the year where that job overtakes my home life (heading into that time-frame now). For three months of the year, finding the time to write is extremely challenging. I don't give myself a minimum word count because I tend to be a binge writer. When I sit down, the words spew out. Or not. There are days I struggle to get even a couple of hundred words out, but I try very hard  to write "something" every day. Sometimes that something is my blog post. Sometimes that something is a critique for a fellow author. All of these things help to keep my skills sharp because....

When I don't write, old, bad habits creep back in. Poor sentence structure. Difficulty "finding the right word." Crutch words. As a Midwesterner, I have a tendency to end sentences with a preposition (because that's the way we speak, doncha know). And yes, there are periods of time where I just can't write due to "life" getting in the way. This has been a very challenging January for me, where life has stepped in to rob me of that time I dedicate to my pursuits. Life happens. And I'm going into busy season at the day job. Nevertheless, writing is an important component, and while I haven't had as many writing days as I'm accustomed to, I am still plugging ahead on my next novel.

As with anything else that we want to do well, the longer we go between practice sessions, the more ground we have to make up to get back to even. Yes, it can be done, but when I know I have the skill and ability to do something well, it's always frustrating to me to have to relearn what I've forgotten or lost.

So number one rule of writing - practice makes perfect. Only by repetition do we learn to correct our mistakes and apply the lessons that make our writing better, and it's good practice to write every day.

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  1. Because I don't plot a whole book in advance, I also count "head writing" as part of my "do something writerly every day" routine. It's not always words on the WIP, but writing is a career and there's a lot more to it these days than simply writing the book.

  2. And how, Terry! Thanks for stopping by.