The most important thing I’ve learned about writing

 

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.

clockThere 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.

18 thoughts on “The most important thing I’ve learned about writing

  1. A good reminder to have, thank you!

    I am still learning a setting a schedule for myself, but so far what I’ve learned is that having a schedule gets my behind in my seat, in front of my journal or computer and writing. I write drafts, think about it for a little while, and then write it in my blog.

    I would not call myself great yet, but at least I’m doing it, and setting a schedule to get there. 🙂

  2. How absolutely right you are. Great post.

    When it comes to Time and Writing, I find myself caught up in the following: when I have a great deal of “free” time I tend to lose most of it to, well, drinking coffee, staring into space, flipping through a magazine–that just happened to by lying there–, reading, blogging, perusing books on Amazon and Ebay and whatever else! I look at the clock and gaaaa, it’s time for lunch, maybe a nap.

    So, I become my own taskmaster. Get to work! Write! I literally say this. Sometimes aloud. And it works. I get to the keyboard or pad and go at it. After a while, the resistance melts away, and on occasion I even forget about lunch!

  3. My problem is accepting that different things will take different lengths of time to write, and allowing them some breathing space. (I tend to be impatient and want everything done yesterday).

  4. Life is all about time, which is why writing is such an uphill endeavour 🙂 I agree about having to take the time to review and make changes at least 3 times when it comes to my “writing” writing. I usually find myself cutting sentences, paring, changing word order and I strive for more umph in the descriptions. This is why now I only write on computer, as re-doing written notes would be too messy and … time consuming in the end.

  5. Pingback: Where Does The Time Go? It Literally Flies Away! – Dianna Donnely's Real Food Meals and Books

  6. You’re so right about time. There’s always some excuse for filling time with something other than what gives us happiness. And great question at the end. Besides time, I’d have to say trust. Trust in your writer’s voice, trust in your need to write, and trust that your ability to write is the best you can make it at this moment in time, even when that inner critic is shouting at you.

  7. Thank you very much for your excellent advice on writing. Yes if you want to be a writer then you need to write !!! My blog is rather new and still getting round to doing it properly. Its a blog of mental health, my journey on becoming well giving Hope and Inspiration for others. Will keep your valuable writing tips in mind. Thanks again 🙂

  8. I am finding it harder and harder to find time for writing but our writing group leader gives us homework so if I have to write something each month. I forced myself to write a poem this morning but it was before and during breakfast and by the time I had edited it and got it on the computer i had no time left for any other writing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s