Friday, August 17, 2012

Practice, Practice, Practice

According to medical research, people who suffer strokes can relearn skills they lose by practicing them to re-establish connections in the brains for those skills.  There's a very good series on PBS about how elastic the brain is that goes into this in a great deal of detail. This explains how I was able to recover my writing skills after I suffered from burn out.

Burning out is like a very localized stroke in the sense that old skills are lost. But by practicing my craft I was able to regain my writing skills to the point where, now, I have a novel in the process of being published.

What that means for new writers is: you must practice your skills regularly.  Keep a journal if you have to.  And don't expect your skills to materialize overnight.  It takes months or years usually depending on how sharp your mind is, how well read you are, and how much you practice your writing skills.

For me, I had to recover my general writing skills so I could string words together before I could focus on a specific type of writing.  I found reading helped a lot, especially clearly written non-fiction, just so I could see the proper way to put words together again.

Once those skills were in place, it took years to hone my creative writing skills because I did not practice them often -- life has a way of intruding -- and because I was not thinking clearly about my material.

Several years and several rejections later, when I really focused on this work, I made several major changes in characters, plot, and the very way I told the story, all of which yielded the result I wanted.

Of course by then I had all made several life changes so I could write more regularly.  I increased my reading too.  I even did a little reading about writing creatively just to make sure I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.

So practice, practice, practice.

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