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Tuesday

Writing4Success, Marg McAlister

Writing4Success Tipsheet #5
Building Your Skills
© Marg McAlister

Sometimes, it seems that the more you learn about writing, the more you realise how little you know. Beginning writers often look at the work of published authors and despair of ever being that good. Some even give up the idea of writing altogether - which is a great pity, because writers NEVER stop learning.

Persist! If you enjoy writing, don't give up because you pale in comparison to others! You might be giving up just before you jump up a couple of levels at one time. A number of writers have found that their writing seemed to suddenly take a leap forward - they didn't gradually improve; they dramatically improved, almost overnight.

For some, this 'quantum leap' may happen as a result of hours of study and rewriting and feedback suddenly all coming together - a light bulb goes on, and their writing blooms. Others are lucky enough to get a flash of insight from someone who has critiqued their work.
Take heart from these quotes from two successful authors.

1. Emma Darcy (author of romances and mysteries)in her book THE SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL ROMANCE WRITING, talks about 'stepping up':

"The concept of stepping-up can best be explained by analogy to a motor car that can travel at ten km/h, or 20 km/h, or 30 km/h, but at no speed in between. The idea of stepping-up is not a fiction; it is a statistical fact... I can describe empirically how it works. In the chapter on heroines, I told how Jacqui Bianchi improved the appeal of my books by inducing me to write heroines who took greater emotional and/or physical risks than I was used to writing. This was not a small upgrading of my work. At one blow I took a large step forward in reader appeal.

"Stepping-up has to do with a large instant leap forward. Any author who learns how to go from being prosaic to emotionally gripping will make an enormous advance at a single step."

2. Leonard Bishop, in DARE TO BE A GREAT WRITER, talks about developing good writing habits:

"Developing good writing habits does more for the writer than just getting him into the habit of daily, scheduled writing. Every craft problem the writer solves brings him to a conscious understanding of how to write more effectively. The writer uses these insights from the moment they are realised. He consciously applies them to whatever he is writing. Through a constant use of these insights the writer gradually NO LONGER THINKS ABOUT THEM. It becomes his habit to use these craft insights as part of his everyday habit of writing. He is freed to concentrate on resolving more complex problems.

"His knowledge of writing becomes as automatic to the writer as his knowledge of having teeth. He does not consciously think of his teeth while eating. He does not coax his teeth, "Go on, teeth, chew. There, that's a good loyal set of teeth." The only time anyone consciously considers his teeth is when they hurt. WHEN THEY CANNOT CHEW.

"The only time a writer becomes aware of his ignorance is when what he knows about writing no longer works for him. It is not enough for what he wants to accomplish. He must know more. HE BEGINS HURTING."

Take a look at where you are now with your writing.

Have you recently arrived at a blinding flash of insight that has improved your writing dramatically?

Have you been hurting, thinking "I'll never be good enough?"

BOTH of these feelings are good for your writing. It's great when that lightbulb goes on - but it's just as good for you to realise that there's more you need to learn. Both will help you to move forward in your writing - the only thing that can stop you is giving up!

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