I posted this on our ACFWColorado blog this morning and thought I'd share it here:
Writing should be a discipline. How many of you look at it as such?
As I sit here at the pool for another long swim-team practice, I'm struck by that word - discipline. My kids are swimmers. We have practice six days a week, three hours a day. Then, we head to the YMCA and they swim for another hour or two. They are disciplined. Determined. Focused. When I was growing up, it was piano practice that took two to three hours of my day. My point? To excel at anything, you have to practice. It's a discipline.
I've met a lot of other writers since immersing myself in this world of an author. One thing I have noticed is how many "wannabe" writers - and even a few published writers - don't want to work at it. They want to be discovered, get published, become famous, and it all to happen overnight by osmosis. Because they have talent. They shouldn't have to work at it. They should just write and it be gloriously brilliant the first draft. I mean once you're published, you shouldn't need to attend classes at a conference, submit anything to critique partners, or work to polish your masterpiece. It's all about marketing, networking, and sales at that point. Right?
Ummm, that's a big fat NO.
You have to work at writing. You have to constantly be willing to learn. You have to practice the art of writing. It takes discipine. It takes diligence.
Just like one performance of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody takes hundreds of hours of practice at the piano, or one 100 meter Freestyle sprint in the Olympics takes swimming hundreds of thousands of meters - so one well-written manuscript should take work, practice, edits, and thousands of uses of the delete button.
Are you willing to practice? Are you willing to keep learning? Are you willing to be disciplined about this art and craft?
Don't get caught up in the old adage "practice makes perfect" - it isn't true. As I've told all my students over the years, "Practice doesn't make it perfect. Only perfect practice makes it perfect." If you are continually practicing the wrong way - it will never be perfect.
Be willing to stretch yourself. Be willing to learn. Be willing to grow. Be disciplined. Join a writing group like ACFW and surround yourself with others who will encourage you, hold you accountable, and help you along this writing road.
Write. Write. And write some more. Humble yourself and ask for direction, for help, for another set of eyes. And learn how to take constructive criticism.
Discipline. I'm learning even more about it from my kids. What an awesome way to learn.