Community Magazine

Three Lessons in Writing

By Russellvjward @russellvjward

You’re a writer, right?
You either blog frequently, write articles regularly, contribute to books, submit guest posts, or might even be drafting that future memoir or novel.
So that makes you a great writer, right?
Being a writer just means that you write, not that you’re any good.
And here’s the rub. You may never be any good. Because not everyone can be a great writer.
You might write prolifically, from the heart, and with absolute passion. You might seek and receive positive affirmations from family, friends and peers. You might think you've achieved your ultimate goal. You’re writing and you’re obviously great at what you do.
But how can you ever be sure? Because a fellow blogger tells you?
You can try to do something about it. To hone and perfect your craft. To make yourself as good a writer as you could ever wish to be.
You can start by slowing down, learning from others, and appreciating the actual writing process itself.

Three Lessons in Writing

Photo credit: Dave Morrison (Flickr Creative Commons)

Lesson 1: Slow down and enjoy the ride
Why are we always in such a rush to achieve? To be the best. To gain sudden gratification. To reach the destination without appreciating the road by which we got there.
In a world of instant messaging and simultaneous downloads, we've become hardwired to want everything right here, right now. We’ve forgotten what it means to experience the long process towards becoming a good, or even great, writer.
You and I need to slow down, take our time, and savour what it is we’ve declared ourselves to be.
The path to good writing cannot be hurried. It’s a process of learning. It’s a process of intimately understanding our craft. It’s a process of practice, practice, and more practice.
Impatience is a killer. Good writing takes longer than you think.
Take the slow boat to better writing and great things will eventually come.
Lesson 2: Listen and learn from others
You can’t claim to be a great writer without learning from other great writers. Unless you’re lucky and one of the chosen few, you weren’t born with the full suite of writing skills (although I’m sure you’re not far off).
You therefore need to learn - and keep on learning. People who write well don’t ever stop listening and they never stop learning. They purposefully digest information but, most importantly, they learn from others. 
I follow a number of writing-related sites that I find are crucial to better learning the craft, whether it be for blogging, article writing, or thinking about that possible first fiction novel. Some of my favourite writing gurus include Kristin Bair O'Keeffe, Joanna Penn, Jody Hedlund and Jeff Goins. Other sites such as Copyblogger and ProBlogger are just as good.
These guys are excellent at their craft (as authors, self-publishers, novel writers, bloggers) but they didn’t get there overnight. They work hard at it - and it shows. And they aren't giving you a secret recipe to achieving immediate success.
They're showing you how to get there.
I follow these writing sites and I learn from what they share. Some advice I ignore, some I follow. I pick and choose, taste and appreciate. But I don’t assume these folks will give me the magic number because they can’t and they won’t.
All the same, they will set me on my way.
Lesson 3: See good writing as a journey not a destination
Good writing takes time to master, great writing takes even longer.
This is a long haul, a journey of writerly discovery and enlightenment. Once you realise this, you’re already well on your way.
You may never reach the end. The goalposts will change. The advice doesn't stop coming. No true writer worth his or her salt ever believes their craft is truly mastered and this is the way it is. Stick at it and you’ll see the results – and feel more confident in sharing your work because your homework is being done.
My own writing journey started the day I realised good writing was a process not an end result.
I started this blog. I wanted to recount my journey from there to here. I believed that my search was entirely about travel and a burning desire to carve out a new life abroad.
That was only part of it. My real journey was one of writing. I had an itch and it needed a damn good scratch.
I constantly learn from teachers like Jody, Jeff, Joanna and Kristin. I incorporate changes, tweak this, alter that. I ask questions and I practice non-stop. This is no quick win and I’m in it for the long haul.
Two month's ago, I was a finalist in the Sydney Writer’s Centre Best Australian Blogs 2012 and I have no doubt these three lessons were key to my minor success.
As a writer, it’s your responsibility to be the very best you can be. You’re accountable for the words you place on a page. So if you take one thing away from this post, take this.
The art of good writing isn’t a destination but a lifelong state of mind. You may never get there, but you’ll be a much better writer for the journey you take.
Now let’s get to it. We've got work to do.
What have you learned on your own writing journey? What writing-related sites would you recommend to others?
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