Friday, June 21, 2013

Make Yourself Good

In order to even learn how to play his instrument, it takes the guitarist weeks to build calluses on his fingertips; it takes the saxophonist months to strengthen her lip so that she might play her instrument for only a five minute stretch; it can take the pianist years to develop dual hand and multiple finger coordination. Why do writers assume they can just "write" with no training whatsoever - and then expect on their first attempt, to be published internationally! What makes them think they're so much inherently greater, need so much less training than any other artist? 

~Noah LukemanThe First Five Pages

 If you decide to write, decide with conviction. Practice and study it until it's right. Why the practice and training matters:  
  • You don't want to buy a house built by a contractor who hasn't been an intern under someone else's watchful eye.
  • You don't want surgery from a person with just a bachelor's degree in pre-med.
  • You don't want a shade-tree mechanic rebuilding your car engine.
  • You don't want someone with twenty hours flying time piloting your 747 to your destination.
  •  You don't want a wedding dress prepared by home-economics students.
 Value comes with invested time and practice. Both convert into credibility. 
  • You don't pay $650 for a watercolor when the person just graduated high school and took two art classes for extra credit.
  • You don't pay $1,000 for a handcrafted bracelet . . . made by someone who just bought his tools two weeks ago and decided to get creative.
  • You don't fill an auditorium when you've just started your band.
  • You don't find the funding for your movie idea when you've never made a movie before.

Make yourself credible. Make yourself marketable. Make yourself respectable before you throw your name out there and prove that you are not. Make yourself a wonderful writer.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Yes, a beginning saxophone player tortures the brass valves, and the result? Sounds similar to the noises a dying goose would make...and they're so awful, you want the goose to die quickly.

A beginning writer can write with a pencil or tap away on a keyboard and the result might LOOK--at first glance--like something passable. But poorly crafted writing is an assault to our sensibilities, just like a new saxophone player's music is an assault to our ears.

Just because we can grip a pen or use a laptop does not make us a writer...

widdershins said...

I practices the sax for months and never got very far past the strangle goose sounds. That's why I'm a writer.

Kelly Robinson said...

I'm appalled at the number of people who write, yet don't read. I can't even wrap my mind around it. It's like being a cook who never tastes food.

Hope Clark said...

It is amazing the writers who don't read. Sad, actually. That's like trying to continually pass an exam and never going to class to learn the material.

Erica said...

Or they read just one style or type of writing. A writer's reading diet should vary. Study what works, what doesn't and why. Learn new words, try new ways to phrase things and absorb some new ideas.

Study, practice, repeat.

Unknown said...

So true.
One must quietly labor many thousands of hours to achieve a great standard.
Many people are confused by the ones who are famous for nothing, and strive to achieve just that.
Getting closer to perfection is beautiful.
Like making Ferraris or other precious items.
Great post, Hope.
It's best to understand and accept the need for effort and toil from the start.

Jennifer Brown Banks said...


Very eloquently stated. Amen to this!

Hope Clark said...

So glad you liked it, Jen.