Every Little Bit Helps…

“A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules.”
Anthony Trollope

Yeah, buddy.

This is what writing is all about.

“Don’t call yourself a writer if you don’t write every day. It’s an insult to all the people out there who are writers.”
Melisssa Scrivner

I have been teaching this stuff for fifteen years. I see this all the time. “I’m gonna take time off and do it,” is something I hear a lot. It’s a death trap. YOU HAVE TO WRITE EVERY DAY or you will never do it. Saving up vacation time to write your novel is no good. Telling yourself you’re a writer is no good. You have to WRITE every day. Take one day off, which one is your call.

I hear this from professional writers all the time. Write every day!

The fear of perfection is something that slows writers down. For some reason, lots of people see the need for it to be perfect, the first draft, as an occasion they must rise to. Why? It’s writing. The first draft is supposed to be crap.

Melissa Scrivner is a writer for CSI: MIAMI and she knows her craft. She’s way talented and spoke to my class this past week. She said that the first draft is like a cocktail party, you can talk to people but you really don’t know them well… only in the second and subsequent drafts, can you get to know your characters.

I have had students so afraid of their work not being perfect that they didn’t turn in an assignment all semester. Not often, but I have seen it enough to know that it’s not that unusual. They were afraid that what they would do would not be perfect, so they wrote nothing… that meant, of course, that they had nothing they could fix… so they ended up with no little pile of pages and an F for their trophy case.

Write every day.
You’ll be surprised how thick that pile of pages will be in a month or two.
And, the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Pretty soon, it will be 1.) less effort and 2.) more fun than NOT writing.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Every Little Bit Helps…

  1. Melody Lopez

    My self defense instructor quoted Malcolm Vladwell (sp?) who I’ll parapharase as having said “practice a skill 10,000 repetitions to make the effort unconscious and 10,000 hours to master it.”

    In my opinion, most skills are likely “perishable”… which is how the qualify “shooting”… you have to keep practicing and conducting drills to keep your aim steady, your shot groups tight, etc… and I think that’s the same thing with writing…you have to practice writing every day in order to keep your prose sharp, your grammar correct, your story telling clear and compelling, etc…

    because Will Akers is a pro and I’m a hopeful writer…it took you less words to say the same thing…damn, he’s good….

  2. JBC

    Great advice as always Dr. A, and worthy of repetiton. One thing people don’t realize about writing is that its like any other skill and has to be practiced.

  3. Pat

    I just wrote something about this. I think a prime example of writers writing is Walter Gibson. In 1931 he signed on to write four 60K word stories for a quarterly periodical called the Shadow (detective pulp)for one year. After two issues it was so popular they switched to a monthly magazine so he had to write twelve 60K word stories. He finished his contract a few months early which worked out well because the following year the Shadow came out twice a month and he wrote all 24 issues. Over the course of the 18 year run he ended up writing 282 of them.

  4. Well said. As someone who has only recently been immersed into the world of writing, I find this to be a valuable suggestion. I also believe that like writing a lot, reading a lot is also helpful. It invites you into the minds and worlds of other writers which can be pretty educative.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Reading is the best! For so many reasons. I am trying to read an hour each morning and it’s a wonderful way to get the mind engaged.

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