This morning I woke from a dream where I was seeing three things – three brown and newspapery objects in three locations on a white piece of fabric – very vaguely but very clearly. I have no idea what this means.
But I also woke with the strange conviction that I really needed to say this:
Writing isn’t easy.
It’s not just something you pick up (okay, maybe somebody was naturally born with the talent to write great prose, but I’ve never met that somebody, and if I did, I would definitely NOT LIKE THEM). And if you want to be good, it’s not something you will, with simply the passing of time, improve at doing.
Nope, writing takes practice. Lots of it. Regularly. Over years.
Then, you might be good. Or you might just be mediocre and need to keep at it for years more.
The thing is that for some reason some people seem to think that writing just “comes” to folks like the milk delivery arrives(and yes, you can still have milk delivered, just ask my friends in Denver). But that’s not the case. Like any skill – golf, piano, great pie baking – it takes practice. Day in and day out practice. This is part of the reason I hate the myth of the muse so much – it belies the great effort that writers put in.
So if you want to write, decide a couple of things:
1. How much do you want to be good at this thing?
2. What are you willing to sacrifice to be good at it?
3. What will you do to develop the discipline you need to get to good?
None of the answers to these questions is easily found or then easily followed. But I assure you that finding the answers, that itself is well-worth the effort, just as the writing itself is always worth it.
So what are your answers? How much do you want to write? What are you willing to sacrifice? What do you need to do to develop a writing discipline?