Writing, like any skill, takes time to develop.
There are no skipped steps, no short cuts, and no hacks. Writing requires practice. Nothing takes the place of time on task, but developing a writing practice isn’t solely an issue of word count.
Building a practice means dedicating attention on different days to specific aspects of writing. Some days might be dedicated to developing characters, devising story, examining sentences, or returning to story in the form of structure, to name a few aspects of writing. Other days must be dedicated to bringing it all together as the components mesh, blend, and cross-pollinate.
Certain things may come easier to some than others. Everyone has gifts, but we all have shortcomings too. Everyone struggles. We don’t all struggle with the same things, but we need to give our struggles the attention they deserve without letting them overwhelm.
If you’re feeling frustrated, remember that practice takes practice.
“The first step is to develop a practice of writing that works for you…”
When developing a writing practice, the first step isn’t to write well. The first step is to develop a practice of writing that works for you, a practice that allows you to write and creates a context where you can see your mistakes.
Consider these questions:
- When in the day does your writing come easiest?
- When you sit down to write, what type of writing flows?
- Are you trying to write something because you think you should or because you think that’s what will sell or that’s good writing (literature)?
- Are you spinning your wheels?
What is the purpose of practice?
The purpose of practice is to work at the edge of your abilities, the point at which you improve.
Practice itself is a skill developed over time. Practice is not only an issue of repetition, quantifiable according to time on task. All learning derives from recapitulation, sure, but a lot of time can be spent repeating the same problems or trying to force the same issues. These mistakes, to a degree, are part of the process, but develop the process according to what you need and what’s working for you. Dialing in your practice, that’s the practice of practice.
Listen to what your practice tells you.
Your writing practice will be the foundation for your entire writing career.
Without listening and taking the necessary steps, there’s no practice. Without practice, there’s no skill. Without skill, there’s no identity. Without identity, there’s no final product. Without a final product, there’s no work.
The work is what writing is all about, and the work depends on practice.
Image by Kira auk Der Heide courtesy of Unsplash
How do you dial in to your practice? What challenges do you have? Tell us your biggest success or obstacle.
2 thoughts on “The Practice of Writing”
When I started writing, I had a hard time sitting at my desk for more than an hour or so. It took me weeks to get to the point where I could write for a long time in one sitting. I didn’t know other people struggled with that.
I write best first thing in the morning. I try to carve out an hour or two after my first cup of coffee.