Practice and the Craft of Writing

Why do we continue to perpetuate the myth that writing is a gift and can only be done by those who were born with the talent? Writers are made, not born. Serious writers work very hard to continue to learn about the craft, as well as making time to practice the craft of writing. Currently, I’m working on the second draft of my first novel. This entire process has been the most intense and most energizing project I’ve ever undertaken.

What does it take to write a novel? I had no idea when I began this journey three years ago. I talked to novelists, but I didn’t fully understand what they were saying. I discovered I had to live the process. I had to discover whether I was a pantster, someone who just sits down and writes from beginning to end, or a plotter, someone who outlines and maps out all the components of the book before writing the first word. On a spectrum, the panster and plotter would lie at opposite ends. I started out as a panster, and at the end of my first draft I’d discovered a lack of depth in my work. Obviously, I am not a panster, so I was back to square one in the process, following a recursive path to learning my writing style.

Now, I do a combination of outlining, using mind mapping software, and panster style writing. My style is to write in scenes. I learned that breaking it down in smaller components makes it easier for me to keep on track. It’s very easy to let the characters take control and create chaos within the creation. The important point to remember is to keep a semblance of control, but allow the characters to speak. Sometimes, I think I’m dealing with multiple personalities in my brain as I hear them speaking to me. We argue and we laugh and we cry together. I’m often amazed when it comes together into a coherent scene.

So, my characters and I will continue to spar, and I will continue to study my craft. But, most importantly, I will continue to practice. I will write and I will learn along the way.

Do you practice your craft? Are you committed to studying your craft? Let me know what you’ve learned along your journey.