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Sunday, 25 November 2012

Practice Makes Almost Perfect


After my last, slightly indulgent post about the agent hunt, I wanted this post to reflect where I am now. I am in reflective, creative mode again. It's strange how you grab onto things floating around that resonate with where your head is at a particular time. I came across this quote on Facebook a few days ago, one of those things that gets shared and spread around. It's a quote by Ira Glass, a writer and radio host from the radio program, This American Life.
This American Life is one of the things I forget to listen to living over here and I miss hearing it. If you've never heard of it, you can listen on-line at the NPR website. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives

Anyway, I love what Ira Glass says here. I hope you mother writers, no matter what stage of the process you are in, beginner, intermediate, advanced, also find it insightful. I think the growing process is what makes writing so wonderful. You are never done learning.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

I like that he focuses on working hard and working regularly.  For me, I get into trouble when the focus is off the writing and on the external, like getting approval or recognition, both of which are important. but can distract me tremendously.  There is no mystique to it, you just have to keep writing and keep improving, no matter how great a writer you have become. It goes with new narratives of success being about lots of hard work and practice, and less about virtuosity. A recent documentary with Ian Rankin talking about his writing process also showed the same thing. He just works hard and gets his head in the zone on a regular basis. And he doesn't make any bones about how this in itself is kind of drudgery some days. But, he's Ian Rankin, so I think he knows it's worth it!

Until next time...get back to work!

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