Practice Makes ... my daughter began to play the ... most of the notes she played were ... off key. Soon the notes were more or less correct, but the melody was lacking as she took
Practice Makes Perfect
When my daughter began to play the clarinet, most of the notes she played were painfully off key. Soon the notes were more or less correct, but the melody was lacking as she took long pauses to place her fingers. As she practiced, she was able to play a few simple tunes, with only two or three notes, from memory. Now she can play more complex arrangements, she can read music and translate the little squiggles and bars into counts and beats and twinkling notes, her fingers can find the notes by touch and she is ready to perform to a small audience of family and friends. Someday, she may be able to perform to a larger audience.
If you have ever played a musical instrument, this probably sounds very familiar.
As a writer, have you taken this same approach to honing your skill? Have you learned the fundamentals of grammar and language? Have you applied the basics to practice writings: articles, essays, short stories, journaling, writing exercise? Have you read books, paying attention to the pace of the story, the character development, the integration of plots and subplots? Have you shared your writings with trusted family and friends, soliciting feedback?
To be a successful writer, you must practice and hone your craft.
Please, don’t expect your audience to suffer through your learning curve. Write just for the sake of writing. You’ll gain competence and confidence and when you decide to perform in front of an audience, of agents, publishers or readers, you’ll be ready.
Try these exercises for practice:
1) Start by writing every day. A journal may be a good place for this. Sometimes it’s difficult to clearly articulate your thoughts, whether personal musings or story ideas.
2) Write personal essays. This is a wonderful way to capture special moments, memories and family traditions. Start your essay with “I remember the day…” or “Nothing reminds me of summer like…” or “The thing my Mother/Father/Grandparent taught me…” or “I learned the most about myself when…” I have written essays after family vacations, holidays or memorable events which I keep in a notebook for my children. This is the legacy I will leave to them. Sometimes, I add photos, ticket stubs, napkins, matchbooks or other items to the essays.
3) Write an article to share your experience as a writer. The best thing you can share with others is yourself. Even if you think you have nothing to offer fellow writers, I assure you: Your words will make a difference. There is someone who needs a word of encouragement, or a helpful hint, or maybe they just need to know they’re not the only one who struggles.
These are just a few ways you can practice writing. Don’t expect every word to a succulent treasure to be savored by a reading audience. Every word is not meant to be published: some will be thrown away or shared with a small audience only: your family and friends. However, these words serve a vital purpose. Someday soon, you will be presenting your work to large audiences, and they will appreciate every hour of practice spent.
Lisa Hood is the author of "Shades of Betrayal" and “Shades of Revenge”. She has been writing for over 10 years and is presently working on her third suspense novel, “Shades of Jealousy.” She is also the Talent Liaison @ BOOKJOBBER.com. Other articles by Lisa Hood can be downloaded from http://www.bookjobber.com/articles.asp or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org