I wrote plenty of bad stories after that. I still write bad stories sometimes now.
More on that in a moment...
The journey I took to learn how to write was a unique one. A circuitous one. From the moment I started writing, I was sure I was better than most other writers. Because of this foundationless confidence, I saw no reason to actually find out what others had to say about the craft. The way you're reading this blog post right now? - I would never have done that.
I went into college with a double major in writing and business. I soon dropped the writing major, deciding I could learn far more on my own than I could in the classroom. In a way, this turned out to be true for me; I have always had a thirst for knowledge - especailly in areas that ignite a passion in me - so I spent a lot more time studying writing than any writing major would have to. But even as I learned on my own, I continued to refuse to search out what others had said on the subject of writing.
As a writer, your goal should be to create something new. Something different. Something that has not been done before. In pursuit of this goal, forging your own path is great. It allows you to come up with unique, original thoughts and ideas - thoughts worth thinking; ideas worth pursuing.
But you can also learn a lot from those who have gone before you. You can learn from the things they say that you agree with. You can also learn from the things they say that you do not believe to be true.
Last week, in my thoughts on reading, I explored the idea that the more you read, the more you know what has and has not been done.
It's the same way with studying what others have said about writing. The more you read about writing, the more you can decide what you believe about writing yourself.
This is one of the primary keys, I believe, with writing. You have to know what you believe about writing yourself.
Your picture of writing will likely be fluid. But the more you study, the more you understand, and the more you write, the more concrete your view of the craft will be.
Through this time, a lot of what you write will be practice. I never saw it that way when I was 15 years old and thought I was working on my first novel, or thought I was working on stories that would light the world on fire. I didn't see it that way when I was 19 and finished my first manuscript, or when I was 23 and had two more finished manuscripts, or when I was about to turn 24 and had just finished the first draft of The Great Lenore. I don't see it as practice now when I am writing a story that turns out to be no good. Whenever I write, I write with the intention of the story being something beautiful. Something brilliant. And sometimes (perhaps even often), this turns out to not be the case. Sometimes, your writing is practice. But that never means you should approach it as such. After all, you never know when something you have been working on will turn out to no longer be practice - will turn out to be that breakthrough you have been chasing. But this only happens if you approach writing with the goal of creating that piece you dream of creating.
And you know what? That's my opinion. Perhaps you agree with it. Perhaps you do not. And either way, you are right - because either way, you are further forming your concrete understanding of how you view the craft.
What have I learned about writing?
In summary: You have to study and understand what you view literature as being. And you have to write. All the time. Always believing that you are writing what you dream of writing.
That's what I have learned about writing.
How about you?
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