In his 2000 craft book On Writing, Stephen King says,
You don’t need writing classes or seminars any more than you need this or any other book on writing. Writing-class discussions can often be intellectually stimulating and great fun, but they also often stray far afield from the actual nuts-and-bolts business of writing.
It sounds so simple, but there’s no way around it: the best thing you can do as a writer is write.
Isn’t it funny how much writers like to avoid the actual writing part? I’m certainly no different. Especially when it comes to my fiction writing. It’s so damn hard! It is so damn hard. Every day I sit down and I struggle. I write a horrible sentence, and another horrible sentence, and then I think to myself, I’m a fraud, I need to quit, this is absolutely terrible.
But even on my worst writing days, whatever I’m putting on the page is always way more useful than not writing anything at all. You might think long discussions about writing with your friends is the same thing as writing. You might think three and a half hours in a workshop is the same, too.
Workshops can be really helpful. Talking about writing with your friends can give you inspiration.
But always remember, to get better at writing, you need to put your ass in the chair and write. You need to work at this craft every single day and practice, practice, practice!
Writing all the time won’t necessarily make you great. But it certainly will make you good.
I’m currently drafting my twentieth novel. I’m almost to the halfway point. Is this my best novel yet? I have no idea. Probably not. But is this novel better than the first one I wrote nine years ago? Oh my God, absolutely!
Reading every day and writing every day has helped me become the best writer I can be after nine years of seriously working on my craft. I’ve gotten to the point where I can write a scene in my latest novel and I know how to find balance between description and action. I take more chances. I trust in my ability to pace the scene well. I recognize that any mistakes I make I can always work on later during revisions.
I’m still discovering new strengths in my writing. I’m still amazed at those amazing moments when you get lost in your story and the characters’ voices begin to take over. I’m still hopeful that this latest novel might be the one where I get everything right.
Or hell, maybe it won’t be. Maybe I’ve already screwed up this new novel to a point of no return, I don’t know. But at least it’s getting written.
Writing should always be your number one goal, remember that.
There’s a lot to enjoy about talking to friends about writing. There’s a lot to take away from writing workshops and seminars. You can’t just only write all the time. You need to mix things up here and there, and a little inspiration can go a long way.
But if you want to get better at writing, remember that the best thing you can do is write. Aim for at least thirty minutes a day, if that’s possible. Write a little in the morning or at night. Write at the time that works best for you, and stick to that schedule whenever possible.
Whatever you do, just keep practicing. Keep trying new things in your writing. Don’t let your stories and characters ever get stale. Don’t repeat something you’ve already written before.
Just write, write, write. Write to your heart’s content! And eventually amazing things will happen, I guarantee it.
Brian Rowe is an author, teacher, book devotee, and film fanatic. He received his MFA in Creative Writing and MA in English from the University of Nevada, Reno, and his BA in Film Production from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He writes young adult and middle grade suspense novels, and is represented by Kortney Price of the Corvisiero Agency. You can read more of his work at his website, brianrowebooks.com.