Being a great writer isn’t easy. Nobody, except our ten-year-old selves, ever said it was.
Improving our writing is something a lot of us work on all the time, and it’s something that I think comes in two parts. Two parts that I’ve written about before, and will write about again. Two parts called study and practice, thought and application, reading and writing. The two sides of a two-sided coin (as opposed to those three-sided coins, you know?).
The Tails side of the coin is important. It’s about learning all of the things that would have taken several years to figure out on our own, plus all of the things we might never have figured out at all. It’s insight and tips about the parts of writing we can imagine (plotting, characterization, prose, themes, techniques), as well as the parts we never even knew existed. A few of those tips have even made their way onto this blog. Reading books on writing like The Fire in Fiction and The First Five Pages, reading regular books, for fun or with a fine eye, and being on WordPress all fall on the Tails side of the coin.
But the Heads side needs time too. Today is Thursday, it’s been a long week, and it’s almost the weekend. It’s as good a time as any to close out Chrome or Firefox (or Safari or Internet Explorer for you less browser adept people out there) and sit at a desk or table. Maybe make a cup of coffee and turn on a little music. As good a time as any to do some serious work. To write 1,000 words. Not just any thousand, though. Write a thousand words that you’ve really worked at. Keep in mind three or four things you’ve learned about writing in the past couple of weeks and try to use them. Don’t be clunky or force it, but don’t be mindless either. Write until you’re finished, then sit back and feel accomplished. Going into the weekend with that feeling will make the whole week a success.
Because at some point we all have to stop searching for inspiration and realize that if we put in the work, we’ll get to where we want to go. This is something that’s hard to remember when one success is the accumulation of a thousand days of effort. It’s even harder when you’re right in the middle of your journey and stuck at day 500. But if day 501 doesn’t happen, day 1,000 will never come.