I've put this picture with this title because walking up mountains is something I don't practise. So back last summer when we had a family hike up Snowdon this was about as far as I managed to get. About 2/3rds of the way. Of course young niece of only 15 managed it all the way without having done the practise thing but I didn't. As one gets older one needs more practise. Husband of course made it but then he is out hiking over mountains much more rugged than Snowdon at least once a month and has been doing it for over 30 years.
As writers we must practise our craft too. For some that book does just leap out of their heads and it goes down on paper but more often than not it then needs much editing, reshaping, and honing to take it from good book to salable novel. That is where the blood, sweat and tears comes in and where many can give up, get discouraged, go for the self-publishing option. So what should we do instead?
For a long time I thought going to groups and writing retreats, etc meant I was not a good enough writer. By hanging out and really listening to others in these groups I am discovering that they all come along because they want to be better. I attend a monthly writing group with people who are published in various forms and yet who are still learning. I run a couple of writing groups with amazingly talented writers who still want to learn. I got to a regular writing retreat with amazingly published writers who still want to improve what they do. I am starting a mentoring programme next month where my work will be critiqued and encouraged where the person who is my mentor has been mentored herself and will be mentored again. She will also be supervised whilst mentoring me. It is a bit like a good counsellor is one that attends regular counselling sessions herself. And so a good writer is one that attends regular writing groups his/herself.
Yes there is still the slog at home of writing exercise. Yes there is more to writing than just writing that book. Most writers do journaling, do regular writing exercises, spend time doing character sketches, writing bits that will never enter the novel but help them with where they are going. Most are doing some form of research too because even with present day fiction there are still details one needs to get right.
Also there is the reading. I had a lovely lady attend yesterday's evening group who said "I am a reader but not a writer" But because she was a reader the pieces of writing she wrote were amazing because she was absorbed in the world of words. I have being writing some pieces to do with Medieval battles and my friend I share my work with said "I am sure you have never been in a battle like this but you write it so well." The reason being I have spent a lot of my time reading books about knights and battles and am immersed in that.
So as well as the regular writing exercises there is the regular reading. There is so much more to writing that novel and honing one's craft than just writing getting published. But also there are authors out there who do not share the slog of it all with others.
And as I always end each of my newsletters "Keep Writing"