By David Rawlings (@DavidJRawlings)
Every writer under the sun wants to be a better writer.
Each of us has the carrot of being a better writer dangling a few feet in front of us, always out of reach. Even those whose names grace our bookshelves – including the ones whose names feature again and again – want to get there. In fact, the best writers never stop reaching for being a better writer.
So apart from the usual advice – you know, you need to do 10,000 hours before you become an expert – how do you actually get there? Surely it’s more than “keep practising?”
Here’s another way of thinking about that: what if “better writer” was the journey and not the destination? As I’ve continued to develop my writing skills, I’ve spoken to countless authors and read everything I can get my hands on when it comes to what I need to reach the Holy Grail of being a “better writer”.
Treating the drive to be a better writer as the journey does something inside my head. Once I start to think about improving and developing as I go, it does a number of things:
- Take the pressure off. If you realise you are always becoming a better writer, rather than short of your elusive goal, it can take pressure off you. I know it has with me. Any improvement is an achievement, not step #5 in a 5,000-step process.
- Help you to enjoy the journey. I’ve found when I travel that if you focus too much on the destination, it can make the journey seem like something to be endured, not enjoyed. And I want to enjoy this journey - I'm putting so much of myself into it.
- Realise your improvement is a constant, not a goal. I set out on my writing journey thinking if I learned enough things, I’d eventually make it. But it’s not that. I’ve learned you need to keep learning.
- Puts my earlier efforts into context. I look back on my first manuscript, or my first draft of my current WIP, with different eyes. It’s no longer a poor first effort, it’s now the best I could have done AT THAT STAGE OF MY DEVELOPMENT. And now I’ve developed beyond that.
About David Rawlings
I can see a typo from across the room and always – always – make sure my text messages are grammatically correct. My manuscripts have finalled in the ACFW's Genesis competitions and the OCW's Cascade Awards.
And now I'm working with the Steve Laube Agency as my agent to find that elusive first publisher.