What it Takes

I just read this article. *

My favorite quotes are these:

“Without a narrative structure in place, even the most elegant and powerful prose plops to the ground in a heap of moist, quivering helplessness.

Order and structure is always – whether planned or retrofitted – a function of design. And design, by definition, is a practice based on certain physics, principles and those proven laws and models.

Learn them, then build your writing upon their proven strengths, and your story will be set free to elevate itself to art.”

This has taken me awhile to latch onto but it’s true. There must be a plan–maybe loose, maybe tight, but it has to be there. I am a messy, unorganized person and writer and sometimes I like to say, you know, that i just follow my character around and see what happens. That sort of does happen but in truth, I have a plan. Whether it’s in the back of my head or written out on a piece of paper, there has to be a goal. With my latest novel, which happens to be very plot driven, that this even more crucial (and painful).

“Writing is very much like singing, playing an instrument or excelling at athletics. The more you do it, the more evolved and polished your sensibilities become, until finally you can instinctively add subtlety and nuance to your performance.”

Writing takes time. It takes practice. And the more you do it, the more you can feel the rhythm of it. The more you sense when it’s working and when it’s not. When the pacing is slow or way too fast. It’s one thing to trudge through twinkle twinkle little star as a beginner and another to play a concerto onstage as a guest performer. The beauty and excitement of writing can come, but it’s not without a lot of hard hard hard work.

“Persistence is every bit as important to a writing career as talent and craft. This isn’t a business for the thin-skinned, and it isn’t a marketplace for the uninitiated.”

Never ever give up. Take a break. Get some rest. Rewrite. Start over. But don’t give up. It’s a journey and it can be brutal, but it’s worth it.

“Your story needs more than a genius writer, a crack idea, a ruthless editor, a maniacal advocate and a few lucky breaks. It needs someone to love it.

Someone to will it into a state of excellence, who understands and accepts that good isn’t good enough in today’s market. Good is just the ticket to someone’s submissions inbox. The ultimate winners bring more.

What they bring is the love of their story, forged and coached and loved into existence at a motherly level of commitment.”

You have to love your writing, love your book, your novel, love it enough to work you tail off for it. To push yourself, to make it happen, to be resilient and be willing to write and rewrite and send it out and revise and send it out again and through all of this, to love it.

So what do you think?  Do you love your book? Do you want this? How much do you want it?

*there’s a little language. FYI. Sorry.


Filed under Ann Dee

2 responses to “What it Takes

  1. I like that writing takes time. And practice. It’s so true. I’m encouraged by comments like this. Sometimes when I feel like my writing is crap, I think, ‘it’s just practice.’ And good practice makes for better writing. Right?

  2. Andrea

    I agree with Emily–I have to remind myself that all this writing I’m doing is practice. I’m honing my craft, and I doubt I’ll ever feel that I’ve truly mastered it. There will always be something to improve. But hopefully with every paragraph I write, I’m getting a little better and becoming more sensitive to what works and what doesn’t.

    Excellent article. Thank you.


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