Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Proof is in the Pudding

The other day I found myself sitting on a bench with my youngest daughter's BFF (Best Friend Forever). We were watching my daughter take a karate lesson, which gave the BFF and me plenty of time to talk. First we talked about karate. The BFF asked about the progression of the karate belt colors, getting tips placed on the belts, and preparing for belt tests. Then, we talked about gymnastics and other activities. Eventually, I found myself telling BFF that you can do anything you want if you just practice, and that the only way to get better with something IS to practice.

Hmm. Sounds like good advice for a 40-something year old wanna-be writer too. Actually, good advice for a writer at any age.

You may be familiar with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where participating authors from all over write a 50,000-word novel in one month. For me last November, it translated into a lot of writing, much more than my usual daily quota. It provided an opportunity for a lot of writing practice.

Shortly after NaNoWriMo, I wrote a short story that had been a plague to me for some time. Calling the story a struggle is like calling a tiger tame, but nevertheless, I finally got the story down and finished. Fairly pleased with the story, I put it out for feedback.

As always, I received some great suggestions from my writers' group friends on ways to improve the story. But the most memorable comment was from my mom. She simply said that she liked the story very much, and she could see my improvement from when I first started writing.

Wow. It felt so good to hear that my ability at this craft of writing was improving!

It's true in writing, as in everything else of life, the more we do something – the more we practice – the better we get. After a full month of dedicated writing on my novel, the short story I completed afterwards WAS better than my previous work. The proof is in the pudding.

Armed with this knowledge, I look forward to writing more and better stories. Keep practicing!