Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Writers Write

When I was teenager, I was a member of a ballet company. One of my teachers was once told me that a ballerina could go three, maybe four days without practice, but every day after that, she was less of a dancer. I took her words to heart, maintaining a rigorous class and training schedule along with my rehearsal and performance schedule. When I stopped dancing, I felt what she meant as my muscles and flexibility suffered.

What does this story have to do with writing?

Well, I think my teacher’s advice can be applied to writing as well. Writers write, and if you spend a large gap of time not writing, you become less of a writer. Writing might not take hours of training and practice to build strength and flexibility, but writing regularly does develop skill and voice. It also builds a routine (even if your writing time isn’t set) and encourages the muse to make daily visits.

I think most people know someone who can tell a pretty good story. This person might have written a short story or two, (maybe even published them,) maybe they wrote a couple of chapters you are foaming at the mouth to read more of, or they wrote a book that is gathering dust in a drawer—whatever the case, they wrote something, but now it’s been months or years since they wrote more. The question is, are they a writer? Surely he or she was a writer, after all, something was written. But, writers write. Maybe they don’t write every day, but they write most days. (Or edit, or plot, or do other writing related activities.)

Did you realize that if a writer wrote only 250 words a day (approximately one manuscript page) she could take off major holidays and still write a first draft in a year? A little bit can go a long way, and as they say, the muse visits those at the keyboard, ready to write.

So, if you want to write, remember to (you guessed it) write!


Darlene C. Goodman said...

Yes ma'am. I'll get back to my writing now. ;)

purpleprose 78 said...

I would like to add that a writer should set a time limit on writing related activities. It should not take a year to plot a book. You shouldn't spent 10 years researching a book. (If it takes that long, write another book about something you know about). Editing/Rewriting can take longer, but at some point you need to say you're done.

haricot vert said...

Tell me then, if you enjoy the plotting and research, and you're making progress as you go, what exactly is the harm in spending 10 years?