I was recently asked by a student – “What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about writing?”
My answer to this question is – Behold the power of time.
There are so many instances where I’ve budgeted time to write and then *something* happens. The kids need a ride, I get a call in the middle, I’ve clicked on one too many articles on the internet, etc.
I’ve learned that if you want to write, really want to write, then you have to write. If that means closing a door, so be it. If it means going somewhere else to write, setting a timer so you stay in your seat to write, if it means you do anything you can in order to write then so be it.
Because you can’t be a writer if you don’t write.
I’ve also recognized that a written piece needs its own time. Time to mix and muddle – until its purest essence comes out. When I was in college I never did much more than 1 draft (why should I? I knew my writing was already amazing.) Now with years of experience behind me, I know that I have to do at least 3, if not more drafts on every publishable piece. Turns out I’m not as amazing as I once thought I was. You’d be surprised at how many typos I catch (my mind is already racing to the next sentence that it knows is coming.) And how I can whittle a piece down when I have some distance from it and I can begin to see redundancies and areas that need clarification. I’m a much better writer when I have reflection.
I’ve also realized that some pieces take longer than others. As a journalist I’m used to working on deadline.
“Wendy, have a 1500 word article in to me by end of day.”
“Yup, you got it, getting started on it right now.”
While I can do articles and assignments fairly quickly, (they follow a familiar template) my own creative writing takes a little longer. It needs to be coaxed and sometimes even pulled screaming with protest from the depths of my soul.
Different types of writing take different amounts of time.
So my answer to that question is -Time. It’s what I’ve learned is the most important thing about writing. You have to have it and you have to manage it well.
How about you? What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about writing?
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.