Become a Better Writer: Write Every Day
Write Every Day
Want to become a better writer? Many people do. But what seperates the successful, working writers from the pipe dreamers? According to some of those successful working writers, the answer is simply sitting down and doing it.
Many writers recommend writing everyday. It can be in a journal or a notebook. It can be thoughts, observations or stream of consciousness. You can work on story ideas or what ever you like. The point is simply to write. It says in The Virginia Woolf Writers' Workshop that the purpose of this practice is to "sharpen the eye and ear or to warm up the mind for writing," whether anything comes of a particular entery or not. Poet and teacher, Natalie Goldberg, likens writing practice to running: "the more you do it, the better you get at it."
Beware the Angel in the House
Finding the time to write everyday sounds simple enough, but when it comes to practice, watch out. Virginia Woolf talks about having to kill her "Angel in the House," a selfless caretaker who puts everyone else's needs ahead of her own-- who thinks that her own work is unimportant.
Writer Ariel Gore talks about having to fight for one's time. Because she works at home, there is always someone who needs something, that they would likely not be asking her for were she working in an office somewhere. It even becomes difficult, she explains, to take herself seriously, reasoning that it would not take long to just put the laundry in the dryer, take the dog out, etc, etc, etc. She says it is especially difficult when you have yet to make any money from writing.
Put the Editor in the Closet
So, in order to become a better writer, one must write everyday? Yes. But that does not mean that one must produce award-winning work. On the contrary, Virginia Woolf said that allowing oneself to write badly is the only way to learn. And sometimes allowing oneself to meander and play can lead to new ideas for stories or insights into what direction to take a work in progress.
Sitting down to practice with an expectation, in mind, of writing something phenominal or simply telling yourself that you are going to write a story or a poem (unless you already have the work in mind) is the quickest way to freeze yourself. Natalie Goldberg recommends saying to yourself, "I am free to write the worst junk in the world."
Goldberg, in her book, Writing Down the Bones, gives more specific instructions for writing practice:
1. Keep your hand moving.
2. Don't cross (anything) out.
3. Don't worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar.
4. Lose control.
5. Don't think. Don't get logical.
6. Go for the jugular. (If something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it.)
Ariel Gore tells her students, "Forget the rules, write the story."
According to the experts, however you go about it, if you want to become a better writer, then the first thing you must do, is simply write.
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