Are You Proud Of Your Writing?
A Trip down Memory Lane
I had just finished mowing the lawn, sixteen years old and plans for the rest of the afternoon. My chores were done and my buddies and me, we were going to the lake for some sunshine, laughter and hopefully a look at Mary Jane in that one-piece bathing suit that showed off all of her curves.
I had hurried through the lawn-mowing and I might have missed a couple strips of grass, but it was hot out and Mary Jane was hot and hell, I could touch it up when I got back, right?
My dad didn’t agree. It seems to me that he rarely did when I was sixteen and full of piss and vinegar.
I will spare you the rather colorful language he used that afternoon to describe the job I had done on the lawn. Suffice it to say he was not pleased as he told me that if a job was worth doing it was worth doing it well. At the end of the day each one of us, he said, had to look in the mirror and the mirror does not lie. If I was willing to take short cuts on one job then a trend would be established, one that would raise its ugly head over and over again during my lifetime….a trend of complacency and half-assed effort, and was that really what I wanted to be known for?
That truth holds true in writing as well as any other endeavor we undertake during our life. And so I ask you: are you proud of your work as a writer? Do you attempt, in each piece that you write, to improve your craft, or do you just settle for the same old same old?
The greats that came before us set the bar of excellence at a rather ridiculous level, one that we may never reach, but that is no excuse for not trying. If you are a writer who just writes for views and clicks then read no further. If, however, you are a writer who desires to be better; if you are a writer who is not willing to settle for 50%, then I invite you to follow along as I tell you some goals I set for myself every writing day.
I am not capable of greatness with every piece that I write, but I am capable of writing one or two sentences that are vastly improved over previous work, and that is what I try to accomplish when I sit down at the computer. That is how we reach new levels in our craft, one step of improvement at a time.
Here, then, are some things I aim to accomplish as I go about my writing day.
Improve My Introductions
Mr. Jahner drilled this into my impressionable brain when I was a sophomore in high school, and the importance of the lesson is as valid today as it was then. The introduction may well be the most important part of anything that you write. If you do not gain the attention of your readers in the first ten seconds you will lose them forever.
This is a fast-paced world ladies and gentlemen. The same people who run through McDonalds drive-thru lanes in search of quick sustenance are looking for quick stimulation in the things that they read. If they don’t find that stimulation in your opening paragraph then they will find it online on YouTube or Wikipedia or heaven forbid, from another writer who is writing about the same subject that you are writing about.
Are you trying to improve your introductions? Make them interesting…make them attention grabbers…make them so captivating that the reader will be willing to invest another ten minutes to read the rest of your information.
Helpful writing tips
Similes and Metaphors
These are some of the great tools all writers have at their disposal and yet so few use them. Have you ever written a metaphor? A simile? People want to relate to what they are reading. Similes and metaphors allow that to happen, and if you can get your readers to relate on a personal level to your writings, it will be like a glimpse of Mary Jane in that swimming suit.
And if you were paying attention I just gave you an example.
Something to think about
- Writing Requires Patience
Writing is a tough road to travel, and often times reward is very slow in coming. Those are the times when the writer must remember to breathe deeply and settle in for the long run.
Do You Have a Voice?
Well of course you do; all writers have their own unique voice. A better question would be are you trying to develop your voice so that it will be memorable? Are you working on phrasing, on word usage, on rhythm and pace? Are you giving birth to a unique tone that only you can claim, or are you allowing your writing to slip forever into the mundane? Worse yet, are you becoming a clone of yourself or are you constantly striving for the perfect you?
For those interested in making money at writing
Are You Experimenting?
Have you tried writing in a different person? Perhaps you are comfortable writing in first person; have you even attempted second or third? Have you tried writing in a different genre? If your comfort level is poetry have you branched out into the scary waters of fictional prose or non-fiction?
Growth does not happen through the repetition of the comfortable; growth only happens when we stretch out on the medieval rack and have our arms and legs pulled to the outer limits of the joints.
Have you laid down on that rack or are you quite content in your Lazy Boy?
I love metaphors; don’t you? LOL
More helpful words of advice
How Is Your Vocabulary?
A dictionary sits on the left side of my writing desk and a thesaurus sits on the right. They are used daily. I refuse to use the same word three or four times in a writing piece. To do so is to be shoddy in my work and dad didn’t raise no shoddy boy.
The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that there are 171,476 words used on a regular basis with another 47,156 obsolete words to choose from.
Use them or lose them! Over 218,000 words at our disposal and each one can be used in a variety of ways. That, my friends, is a dizzying array of tools for you to become intimate with.
Join me on my writing blog
- Artistry With Words | A topnotch WordPress.com site
A writing site devoted to writers. Tips, discussions, suggestions and much more.
A few suggestions you might find helpful
- How To Write Travel Articles For Fun and Profit
Great suggestions for getting started as a writer of travel and adventure.
Are You Making Excuses or Making Advancements?
I can’t answer that one for you. Life gets in the way of most writers. We are spread thin on the best of days and finding the time to write is not an easy task for those with full-time jobs or parenting duties.
If you are to improve then you have to write. If watching “Glee” is more important than writing then I guess you have made your choice. If you listen to those who say you have no talent, and don’t write because of them, then I guess you have made your choice. If you listen to the voices inside your head that say you will never make it, then I guess you have made your choice.
So What’s It Going to Be?
Are you proud of your work as a writer? It is a valid question and requires an honest answer. I don’t care if you write recipes or travel articles or poems spawned from the heart….are you proud of your work as a writer? I don’t care if you write children’s stories or automotive how-to’s or fan fiction….are you proud of your work as a writer?
If the answer is no then get busy improving.
If the answer is yes then keep doing what you are doing because you are on the right track.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”