Unorthodox Writing Tips 36 – I Will Never

I will never be the world’s strongest man. I will never be the richest. I will never be the smartest, tallest, fastest. I will never be the world’s greatest writer.

All of these have one thing in common. They’re all true. The last is the only in the list that is subjective and some people may (some day) think it is true.

I can become stronger by lifting weights and working out. I can become faster by running. I can earn more money by learning more and working toward a better paying job or starting my own business. I can become smarter by reading, taking courses, and reading. I’ll never be taller (maybe I should have left that example out)

I can become a better writer. By writing. With all of these examples (okay, okay, most of these examples) there are measurable ways to note your progress. You lift more weight, you reduce the amount of time it takes you to run a distance, you have more money. When it comes to writing there really isn’t a way to measure your success.

Oh, sure, you can look at number of publications, number of books published, size of advances, but does any of that mean you’re a better writer? I’ve read a lot of people I would consider famous authors and I can’t stand their work for some reason or another. Perhaps it’s their style, or I don’t like the content, or something they’ve written that throws me out of the story. Perhaps it just plain bad writing.

I always look at what others have done and wonder how I could have done it differently. I don’t mean better, I just mean differently. If someone got published by a major publisher or printed in a major magazine, someone liked what that author wrote. Someone thought it to be good enough to pay the person for their words. If I don’t like it, it’s on me, not on the publisher, right? Not everyone liked the ending of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I thought it was brilliant. I absolutely hated the ending of Under The Dome. Others loved it. Two books, one author, two different reactions. Like I said, I look to see what I would have done differently, not better.

I don’t fancy myself a master wordsmith. Hopefully I’m entertaining and people enjoy what I write, but I don’t think of myself as someone who’ll one day be so rich I can just sit and decide which masterpiece I’ll carve out on a given day. Even if I do find myself as a full-time writer, I’ll still need to churn out words to make a paycheck and keep money coming it. It won’t last forever. At least that’s what I tell myself. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it does. Most likely I’ll have to maintain a day job and have a side-job as a writer. That’s more the reality I’m looking at.

That doesn’t mean I think I’m a bad writer either. As with any of the above examples, strength, speed, financial gains, they’re all obtainable to a certain level if you work hard at them every day. You can’t run ten miles one day then rest for a month and think you’ll be better the next time you run. You can lift 250 pounds once and think you’re done. You can’t earn a million dollars and… okay, maybe that’s a bad example as well. My point is that you need to work at getting better at whatever you’re doing in order to actually get better.

I spent ten years working on one book. I didn’t commit to it fully at any time. I would write a little here, write a little there. Piece things together. It was, for the most part, a mess. I left it. I abandoned my child and moved on to other works. I wrote fast, I write aggressively, I wrote consistently for a good length of time. I know I got better. My writing actually improved and over the course of a couple of years I wrote several more books and a good number of short stories.

I stopped writing. It’s no surprise that I had to re-learn much of what I’d already learned. I had to take steps to build my skill back up and to improve the confidence I had in my writing. At no time did I ever think it was going to be easy because it’s not. It’s taken a lot of hours over a lot of days. Writing daily has helped me get to where I am faster than all those years I spent dabbling with my writing. Sure, I could stop and come back to it a few weeks later, but I’ll lose my momentum. I’ll be taking vacations later this year. I’m far enough ahead of my annual goal that I’m not afraid of missing that goal. I know I’ll hit my 450,000 word target. I’ll likely surpass it. All because I’m writing daily.

I’m not just getting better, but I’m getting faster. By sitting every day and writing and typing for a hour here, an hour there, I’ve gotten much faster at sitting and getting words down. There’s no reason to wait to start. I set my in the middle of December and started writing that day. I didn’t wait for January 1st to get going, I got going as soon as I decided I wanted to be serious about writing. You need to do the same thing. Get better, get faster, and start now! Don’t wait for tomorrow. Don’t wait until you feel like you’re organized and ready to go, just get going. There are so many tools available to help you writing that you just need to open one. Notepad, textpad, google docs, wordpad, word, scrivener, there are so many tools, just pick one and go.

I didn’t build a mountain of words by waiting. I built them by sitting and writing. As I said at the start, I’m not the best writer in the world, but I’ve been improving because I’ve been doing this daily for 159 days. I’ve added to my word count each and every day. It’s difficult to get going, but it’s also difficult to get a train moving. Once it’s on a roll, it’s hard to stop. You need to be that train. You need to get yourself started. The only way you’ll get better is to sit down daily and write. I cannot stress that enough.

Ignore me. Stop reading this right now and go and write.


Until Next Time!


Posted on July 6, 2012, in Unorthodox Writing Tips. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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