One of the most common bits of advice for aspiring writers (besides read, read, read) is to write every day.
I have been asked many times, ”Do I really need to write every single day?” This usually comes from someone who thinks the framework on which one hangs good writing isn’t necessarily right for them.
My answer is, “No. You don’t have to write every day, unless you want to become a better writer. Because, (and y’all reading this post know this – right?) as with anything – the more you do something, the better you get at it.”
That answer generally thins out the crowd. But, there are one or two people who honestly want to write, and they usually follow up the first question with this one. ”What if I’m a lousy writer? How will writing every day make me any better?”
I share with them (and you) this non-writing example.
When I was in Junior High, one of the classes we had to take was Home Economics (do they even teach Home Ec any more?) Anyway – one of our projects was to sew something that we would then have to wear to school.
Now, I grew up living with my grandmother, who was a seamstress extraordinaire. She made all of my sister’s and my clothes – usually following patterns that she fashioned from sheets of newspaper after she’d looked at a dress or blouse we liked. I hoped I’d inherited her innate talent – and, I figured it couldn’t be that hard anyway, because she made it look so easy!
You can well imagine the outcome. Even though I chose an easy “jumper”
not one of these… (found here)
but actually this: (found here)
It was far from easy to sew. And the fit was embarrassingly awful. But, I survived wearing it for a day – and also gained a load of respect for what Gram made appear so effortless.
Fast forward to me out on my own – a twenty-something without a lot of money to spend on expensive clothes – but nonetheless, wanting to be fashionable. So, I bought a couple of Simplicity patterns and started teaching myself to sew. I wasn’t very good, and I didn’t understand the pattern markings or the sewing terms – but I persisted and actually made a couple of dresses that I wasn’t embarrassed to be seen in.
And, whenever I’d visit my grandmother, she’d share tips and techniques. Eventually, I got better. By the time I married and had children of my own I’d studied a lot about sewing, read books on all kinds of sewing, taken some classes – and sewed on a regular basis. From the time my daughters were little, I made all of their clothes, and most of mine, too. I was good – quite good.
The key to my success as a seamstress was desire, study, and application (i.e, sewing a lot – often every day.) And, I didn’t just sew clothing – I quilted, crafted, made dolls, embroidered – you name it – I sewed it.
Well, the same holds true with writing. Although what you’re writing now may seem awful – ill-fitting, and not at all what you were trying to get across – don’t stop. Write every day and you will get better.
Study. Read. Write. Write papers, poems, essays, lists, journals, character sketches, scenes, and, of course, stories and books. The key is to write every day. Just the act of putting pen to paper (and, yes, that’s how I start every morning – hand-writing in my journal) is priming the creative pump. It’s necessary effort.
The cliché “Practice makes perfect” – is not cliché at all – it’s the truth. So – those among you who want to write… write. Every. Single. Day.