Wednesday, January 7, 2009

its good advice - write, write and write some more

Like storytelling itself, there is something magical about the process of learning to be a writer. In interviews, authors are often asked what advice they would give to aspiring writers and one of the most often mentioned is to 'write, write and write some more.' I used to be sceptical about the benefits of this. Most jobs require training, followed by hands-on experience in the job itself. But in other jobs this hands-on experience provides external variables which teach us how to handle different situations. But hands-on experience in writing involves the rearrangement of our own thoughts and words. How can we learn from this? Yes you can join critique groups and get manuscript assessments and these can make an enormous improvement but I also believe your writing will improve through the sheer effort of keeping at it on your own. Without external influence or guidance change can happen. Well this is where the magic happens. I write and then i write some more. I send material away and sometimes it gets accepted (yes this does improve my understanding of what a publisher wants and how it becomes a book) or it gets rejected - sorry not right for us, does not fit our list or just a minor range of variation around the simple statement 'no'. Most times there is nothing edifying about a rejection. No, I don't like their brevity, yes I understand why they are brief but the only learning opportunity here is that what I wrote fell into the enormous pool, the structureless amorphous mass of what doesn't work. There is nothing to apply to improve that work. And yet over time I can confirm that through practice my writing has improved. The more I read, the more I write, the clearer my understanding of how a good story is told well. That doesn't mean i always get it right. Some stories don't have it in them. Some are tricky to tell. Sometimes my skills aren't quite at the stage where they can do a particular idea justice. I have to struggle through and nut out how to tell a particular story to learn how. Some of my ideas have to twiddle their thumbs and hum a little song on the sidelines waiting for me to catch up to them but now I feel more confident I will get there. So even if you don't understand how it happens or can't see the process at work, its good advice. Write, write and write some more. Go try it. See?

2 comments:

maureen said...

Sometimes I think to myself, who are you trying to kid? You are just in the writing game because you need to justify all the reading you do...lol...
Researching...finding out how the world works trying to live in the moment...although there is a fight going on outside my bedroon door at this moment which I don't want to be a part of...
That's what I try to keep in mind, life is research for the writing.
The writing is the hard slog. And it's only the hard slog that gets you anywhere in writing.
Maureen- slogging away on book while outside the pool beckons the kids have stopped fighting...
small diversion reading Tania and Melindas blogs over.....

Melinda Szymanik said...

Yep - i think writing is just another way to figure out the world. And I can quite happily believe it will take my entire lifetime :)

melinda