A Disciplined Approach to Writing

The funny thing about the title to this article is that as I sat down to write the article, I really didn’t feel much like writing. Sometimes that is what it’s like when you are an aspiring writer though, you need to write as time permits and sometimes that means writing when you aren’t in the mood or even when you are sick.

Several years ago while attending a small music school outside of Memphis Tennessee I was taking a creativity class of some sort and wrote a short story for it. A couple days later the professor offered to take me out to lunch where she then encouraged me to think about going to college to be a writer. This was meant to be a compliment to my writing skills, not an insult to my musical abilities. I was pleased with the compliment but I never did go to college to be a writer though being a writer is something I’ve wanted to do most of my life. I don’t believe that any one needs to go to college to accomplish this task. You simply need to be reasonably good with spelling and grammar and be able to craft a good story. There are dozens of good books available on the subject such as $30 Writing School by Michael Dean and On Writing by Steven King. In addition to books there are many more resources available. A few that I like are Writing Sci-Fi and Fantasy by Jeffrey A. Carver, Fictional Discipline by Stan Man X, yes I borrowed the idea for the title of this article from him, and Writing Excuses.

Taking a disciplined approach to your writing is the best way to improve your writing ability. I spent years thinking up great ideas for stories but then never getting those ideas out of my head and onto paper. That’s not writing, that’s day dreaming and anyone can do that. Without dedication to see an idea through to completion you won’t ever be a writer. I used to always struggle with story length. I could come up with great ideas but somehow couldn’t expound them into anything approaching the length of a book. I always felt like I was trying to add fluff to my stories just to make them longer instead of actually having any real content. Something strange has happened though as I have started to write on a consistent basis: The length of my writing has consistently increased without even noticing the change. If you want to see some proof take a look at the first month of posts on this blog and compare the length of the entries to the length of entries I am doing now. Like any other skill you must work at writing consistently if you want to see improvement.

I’m not going to pretend to have this writing thing all figured out because I certainly don’t. I’m just trying to find my way in this craft and hoping to help other s along the way. Of all the things I’ve written only one piece was ever published beyond self-publishing that I’ve done on the Internet. And that was a poem about 5 years ago in an Art festival’s literature magazine. If I ever do get out of the rat race, I certainly hope that writing is a key element in that but it will take consistent dedication and perseverance for it to become a reality. Spending all your time saying that you want to be a writer without actually writing anything will never get you anywhere. Put the effort in now not later. You’ll be happy you did.

Writing Tip: Something that I have found very helpful while writing is to not look at the screen at all. I find that I get easily distracted and what I do write seems to come out slower than if I simply stare blankly at the keys. I don’t need to see the keys to type but it’s the best place I’ve found to look while writing that won’t encourage outside distractions to slow me down.