Speaking of passion and persistence, as the last few posts have, leads pretty naturally into something I want to talk about that doesn’t get stressed often enough.
My former sister-in-law is a symphony orchestra cellist. My step-brother is a world-class, make-a-living-at-it target shooter. Both of these professions have several things in common with what I do as a writer. First, the success rate is very low. Second, they require extreme passion. You can’t get there without really wanting it. Third, talent. There’s seems to be a minimum level of talent without which there wouldn’t be much point in starting down the road. Fourth, lots of hard work. And that’s what I want to talk about here.
Hard work. Kari and Matt both dedicate thousands of hours a year to practice. So do I. For some reason this idea often surprises people. There is a not uncommon belief, fostered perhaps by the fact that most people learn to write as a matter of course, that writing is something one can just do. People who would never expect a professional cellist to be able to play without rehersal, or a target shooter to be able to hit the mark without practice, seem shocked by the idea that you have to write a lot to master the craft. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked about short cuts or the aghast looks I’ve gotten when I say that there aren’t any.
Which brings me to my next point and the subject of tomorrow’s post:
Practice—Write the next story.
(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog Sept 24th 2006—original comments may be found there. Reposted as part of the reblogging project)
Nota Bene: minor changes have been introduced in the opening paragraphs of this post to make it make more sense out the context of the Wyrdsmiths blog where we were having a more general discussing of passion and persistence. The relevant thread takes place here.