Practice Makes Much Better

Practice makes much better

Melissa’s post last week started with the idea that we learn to write from our writing. I would like to take this idea and expand on the most important thing I have learnt from my writing practice. That is: that our writing can improve. We can get better. If there is an interest in learning and dedication to becoming a better writer (by doing the writing) then the writing will improve.

There is an idea that a creative skill, such as writing, is inherent not learnt. Not that I think I’m great – I still have a long way to go but I am certainly better able to craft a story and develop a character than I could when I started scribbling down ideas.

It is a case of practice makes much better.

 

There are several key areas of focus to become a better writer:

Learning from the writing itself.

It is the practice that makes us better. I track a lot more of my writing time; what I don’t do (but should) is journal more about what I learn from the writing process itself.

I know from looking over earlier works that my writing has improved. That first drafts make more sense and require less work. Still need work, editing and the like but not to the same degree.

Reading

Lots of reading and everyone says this and that is because it is a good idea. I have heard the idea that you should read at least 100 books in the genre you are writing.

I like to read a whole range of books. I enjoy fantasy but I think there is a lot to learn from other genre, mysteries, romance etc.

Study of the craft

This doesn’t have to be formal but I did learn a lot from my Masters course but reading blogs and articles by other writers and experimenting with their learnings and what works and doesn’t work for them.

 

I believe that writing can improve and that we can all be the writers we want to be with work. To get better there must be practice. That is something I have reviewed lately. I moan that I’m not getting done what I would like but then I’m not putting as much time into it as I would like. The more time, the more practice, the more thought and therefore the better the writing becomes.

Strange things – Learning from writing

strange learnings

Today’s post is by Melissa at The Lone Creature.

The strangest thing I have learnt from writing is that for all my schooling and researching about ‘how to write’ it comes down to actually doing the writing. The more I do, the more I learn. I believe everyone ‘can’ write, and I believe everyone should write, something, somewhere. I believe those who make good fiction writers are the ones who are able to make ‘that’ special connection with readers. That special connection is where the reader is able to suspend disbelief and not just enter, but engage, with the writer’s imaginary world. I have learnt that to achieve such connections it takes crafting and love. There is an art to giving the reader enough information to see what you see, but not so much you crowd their own imagination.

Therefore, the strangest thing I do is to balance my descriptions of scenes and settings with leaving something to the reader’s own imaginations using the idea of schemas (models) and gestalt (making sense of partial images to form a whole image). For schema, if I say ‘classroom’ you immediately have your own idea of what that looks like. So, should I spend time describing every last detail if the setting isn’t that crucial, or is it more important to take time on the plot, character development, and other? For gestalt, I might say ‘blue skies, sparkling calm ocean, and rocky edges’ you form a whole out of those parts. It’s a schema if I say ‘rugged coast line’.

Put them together: Sam walked down the rugged coast line and then stood looking out to the sparkling calm ocean and blue skies. That isn’t a lot of detail but depending on your style of writing, or genre, it should be enough if you want to focus on your character in that setting and scene. And, your reader can choose to visualize according to what they like. For example, Sam could walk in the sand, or on rocks, on a grassy section, or even in the water. Now, here’s the thing – what sex is Sam, or rather, what sex did you as the reader assign? In a full story ‘Sam’ would normally be male or female, but you can also choose to leave that detail for the reader to work out.

Finally, the strangest thing I practice are drabbles – these were first mentioned in Monty Python’s, 1971, ‘Big Red Book’. Drabbles are 100 word stories usually with a beginning, middle, and end. I use drabbles for discipline, to spark my imagination, to help with a setting/scene, to try a different genre or apply a specific skill, as a challenge, and finally, for fun.

 

I have a website where I like to play – www.lonecreature.com.au

The name came from the fact I was essentially a ‘lone creature’, and then I found twitter https://twitter.com/LoneCreatureTM and tweet stuff that comes to mind.

Author Biography: https://about.me/mypompeii

I hope you enjoyed my first guest’s thoughts on the strange things you can learn from writing. What have you learnt from your writing practice and was it wonderful or strange, or maybe both?

Why I’m choosing to self-publish my writing

Self Publishing

Do you only self-publish when you can’t get a traditional publisher to pick up your book? Or do you go it alone because it is the best option for you?

And deciding to self-publish wasn’t an easy decision. There are times as I wander through the book shop that I think it’s a bad idea and that I should be submitting to someone else.

 

But after careful consideration this is why I’m choosing to go this way.

1 Getting my stories out there

I am doing this not to make money (but it would be nice if I could support myself through writing). I am doing this because I love to write and I want to share those magical stories with others. I am still amazed at what unfolds across the page and the wonderful characters that appear and start bossing me about. I still get lost in my own stories (still cry at times even though I know what’s coming) and I want others to experience that too.

 

2 Getting more stories out there

I can publish as often as I like and I can write different stories within the worlds I have already created. Such as short stories or novellas based on the characters of those worlds. I already have a list of short story ideas to develop from ‘The Mark of Oldra’ and as I work through the Raven Crown draft I am developing a similar list for minor characters or what might happen to characters after they leave the main story.

 

3 Control

I may be somewhat of a control freak – not that I would openly admit to that. But being able to determine when my book is released and that I don’t have to change the story to suit a publisher, or the cover, seems like a bonus. I get to determine when the sales periods are and I can give it away to whomever I like.

 

4 Easy

It is much easier than I thought to self-publish. There may be some fiddling about with readers, editing, covers etc but I think you would have that working with a publishing house too. Then it is uploaded and away. No waiting six months for it to hit the shelves. There is a lot of help out there and I have found that Amazon does make it easy.

 

5  Freedom

This is kind of related to the earlier points. I get to produce whatever story I want (or that wants to be created). I don’t have to think within strict genre guidelines, I can label it as what it is. As long as I am clear for the reader then all good.

 

This is not the only option. But it seems to be what is best for me at this time.

Meeting My Writing Goals

Goals for writers

I wanted to follow on from last week’s post about regular goal checking and goal setting. It is important for me to ensure my goals are written down and that I am meeting them.

It can be a risk to get carried away in planning, that it can distract from the doing but all of my projects are working reasonably well.

Today’s post is more of an update on where I am at. And I’m sure I’ve provided lots of these recently but it helps me to write down my actions as well as my goals.

 

‘Snow’ Fantasy Novel

Now called ‘The Mark of Oldra’ this draft has gone out to beta readers. I am reasonably happy with the way it came together in the last edit. Although amazed at the little mistakes I still found.

I even ran a check over the document for my “problem” words. We all have them, those words we use too often or ones that creep in during an early draft that we shouldn’t use at all. One of mine was “seemed to”. I’m not going to tell you how many instances of that I found in the check except to tell you it was too many.

 

Iski Flare

I had hoped to start this on my retreat but the edit for the fantasy novel had to take priority. I have now started drafting. I’m hoping to have the first draft and first edit completed by the end of October. I’m so excited to be finally getting into this after what seems like forever planning it.

 

Raven Crown Series

I’m fighting with Scrivener on this one. Handy for separating out each scene and as I write all over the place (and really all over the place with this series) it is great for slotting a scene into the right place. I’m having trouble getting it to compile the file into a word document, or at least put all those scenes into one place.

I spent far too much time copying each document (individual scene because that is all it would let me do) and pasting it into a word document so that I have each book in a form I can work with.

Still a long way to go with this but hoping to have the first draft completed by the end of the year. I’m also really excited to get back to these characters and find out where they are and what they have been doing while I’ve been in a different world.

 

The Flow of Ink

My website needs a little loving too. I need to spend some time reviewing SEO work, planning out blogs and I’ve got a plan for some guest posts and interviews. I also need to use social media a bit better and I will be working with the blog posts for this. I am also working on the newsletter, which didn’t quite go to plan but it is coming along. To receive the newsletter, please add your details on the right hand menu.

 

Onward plans

Last week I stated that what I do in this quarter will lead into what I’m doing next year.

I have started drafting out my goals for next year and they are yet to be refined but they include more Iski stories and the publishing of at least the first two Raven Crown books.