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The Practice of Writing

If you’re a writer, you write. At the end of the day, nothing else matters. You can be the worst writer in the world, spewing drivel onto the page every day, but if you do it every day, eventually it will cease being drivel, or at least evolve into drivel of a finer sort. This happens automatically, because if you write you always improve. Alas, the opposite is also true. If you don’t write, you definitely won’t improve.

So that would seem to leave us with a pretty clear choice, wouldn’t it? Write, and improve; or don’t write, and don’t improve.

Why is it not that simple?

Because the forces of evil are arrayed against the desire to write. And the biggest evil of all is the need to be good. Burdened by the unrealistic expectation of all quality all the time, we often find that we just can’t write at all.

But in the practice of writing, quality is not the major concern. In the practice of writing, the only thing that matters is putting words on the page. In the practice of writing, the only fear is the fear of giving up the practice. In the practice of writing there is joy, because the practice of the practice is a goal you can achieve, and a triumph you can relish, every single day.

So how does one practice practice?  How can we constantly be closing the gap between the writer’s life we have and the writer’s life we want?  Here are some strategies and tactics you can try:

Writing isn’t easy, but it really isn’t hard. You put a word on the page, then another and another (and another and another) and soon you have some words on the page. You struggle to encode your thoughts in language, and soon you find that you’ve encoded effectively; your words are understood. You try to grasp deeper meaning with elegance and power, and by degrees you learn how to do so. With time, with patience, with effort, the practice of writing emerges from the desire to write. Over time, after much effort, the practice of writing becomes second nature, as much a part of your life as breathing. It’s not just a goal you can achieve, it’s one you certainly will achieve, if you only keep writing.

One final thought: Remember how blessed you are to have the sort of problems a writer has. This is a luxury that almost no one gets to enjoy in this busy blue world.

About John Vorhaus [1]

John Vorhaus has written seven novels, including Lucy in the Sky, The California Roll, The Albuquerque Turkey and The Texas Twist, plus the Killer Poker series and (with Annie Duke) Decide to Play Great Poker. His books on writing include The Comic Toolbox, How to Write Good and Creativity Rules!