This week, as I prepare to dig deep in order to revise my recently completed novel, I’ve been thinking a lot about craft. A writer’s craft, to be precise. I’ve read so many books and blogs and articles that all essentially say the same thing: to become a better writer, you must simply write. And write. And write some more.
The iterations on this conventional wisdom are endless. They say (whoever ‘they’ are) that all writers have one million bads words inside them, and only once they’ve all been written can true quality pour forth. In his book On Writing Stephen King states that ‘Writing equals ass in chair.’ Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers famously posits that everyone must spend ten thousand hours in practice of any given skill before they can reach excellence. But is that all it takes? Time and practice?
Yes, I think that to be a writer, one must write. And write. And write. But I’m not sure that just setting down mediocre words on paper in the hopes that they will eventually transform into words of beauty is necessarily enough. Without the intention and the desire to improve, that metamorphosis will never happen. Our words are not caterpillars, destined to magically transmogrify into beautiful butterflies. No–as writers we must not only write, and practice, but also envision the change within ourselves, and manifest it in our actions.