Monday, May 28, 2007

Start honing your craft

Writing is a craft where, the more you do it, the better it gets, or at least that’s what we’re told by people like Stephen King and others. I tend to agree.

While I wouldn’t put myself in league with the likes of King, J.K. Rowling, or even a best-selling non-fiction writer, like Christopher Hitchens, my writing style has improved immensely, even since I wrote When Towns Had Teams. I consider myself a much stronger writer and am much more sure of my voice and where I want to go, than I’ve ever been.

Since November 4, 2004, I’ve put up over 500 posts, primarily at Words Matter (467) and here, where I post much less frequently and limit my posting primarily to the craft and business of writing. As King said in On Writing, in order to get published you have to be a good writer. Unless you are absolutely horrible, you should improve enough by writing regularly to reach the publication stage.

What’s been most interesting to me over the past year has been going back to work full-time, which was a concern for me, at first, as I thought it would result in fewer writing opportunities and the potential loss of writing momentum. On the contrary, the enjoyment of my new job, along with its many challenges, has injected my writing with a new enthusiasm, urgency and I am more productive and prolific now than I was when I was calling myself a full-time writer. In reality, I’m writing more now, for work and pleasure, than I was then.

As I travel about for work, I often meet people and have the opportunity to share with them my passion for words and writing. On several occasions, I’ve had one of these folks remark about how they’d like to write a book and are planning to when they have more time. My experience tells me that you’ll never have more time than you do right now. With that being the case, seize the moment and begin working on your craft, building towards writing that book that many people seem to think they have within them.

Writing is a mindset. If you are looking for the perfect situation, it probably isn’t going to happen. If you can carve a mere one or two hours out of your day and can spend some additional time on weekends to hone your craft, you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to do. Whether you’re looking to begin freelancing articles, become a specialist in crafting op eds, or you are determined to write the "Great American Novel,"start today and build towards your goal, one word and one sentence at a time. In order to do this requires some compromises. You may have to give up a favorite television program, or forego time at the gym. Maybe you’ll have to set the alarm to get up an hour earlier, or work later into the evening. Each writer is different. Find a routine that works for you and stick to it. You’ll be able to look back and point to your decision as your own personal writer’s signpost on the road to success.

Better yet, start a blog. It’s simple and easy—just make sure you are ready to commit to posting more than once or twice per month. While this blog in not regularly updated, Words Matter is and I challenge you to build your own volume of writing, just like I have. You don’t get to 500 posts by procrastination. Rather, you get there by making a pact with yourself to find something you’re passionate about and determine to write 500 or 600 words on that subject on a regular basis. If you can do that, you are well on your way to writing success.

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