What's Your Favorite Piece of Writing Advice?
Quality Writing Emerges from Writing -- a Lot
Foster, a writing community, asked members to submit a short piece on “What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?” I contributed the following essay.
Conventional wisdom demands that we value quality over quantity. In writing, that would translate to writing with perfection – or at least excellence – in mind. Agonizing over the message, the flow, the choice of every word – and ultimately only publishing pieces we deem to have met our quality standard.
To test that advice, let’s take an example from family life.
Mom and Dad work so much that they see Johnny and Jane for only a little time each day. To make up for it, they plan an amazing family European vacation!
But guess what really happens on that European trip?
The flight to Paris gets canceled.
It takes two extra days to arrive, by which time everybody feels exhausted and pissed.
In the meantime, news comes out that Mom’s company is getting purchased. Mom spends most of the trip on her computer in the hotel room.
When she strays outside, she’s glued to her phone at the Louvre.
So much for quality time with Little Jane and Little Johnny!
Another Mom and Dad have a different approach. After dinner every night, Dad reads with Lizzie, and Mom reads with Bobby. One night, Lizzie reads to Dad. It’s a book about her favorite flowers, hydrangeas. After finishing the book, she practices writing the word “hydrangea” and drawing the flower. She becomes pretty good at both. She turns to Dad and says, “Dad, I will always remember when you helped me spell hydrangea and draw my favorite flower too.” And she will.
And so will Dad.
This holds for writing too. Spend the time writing. Write every day, even if only for ten minutes or 150 words.
Dissect what you wrote.
Find someone to review and edit your work. Revise the piece. Experiment with new approaches to your storytelling. Publish it all. Take feedback seriously. Then sit down tomorrow morning, and do it all over. Again. And again.
One day, from the quantity of time and effort and energy and sweat and mental exertion, quality writing will come forth.