Have you mastered your writing?

by Lana Wayne Koehler

When someone hears that I’m a writer, it usually elicits the same response: “I’d like to write a book someday, too.”

I usually smile and wish them luck. But luck has little to do with it. Writing takes time, talent, and tenacity (thanks, Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton). Only then can luck even begin to play a role. 

Every successful writer that I know keeps a schedule of writing. For some, it’s every morning, and others write better in the afternoon or evening. I write best when I can block out days of pure writing time so I can marathon my stories. It helps me to maintain continuity of characters. Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book “Outliers” that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. That’s about 40 hours a week for five years.

Whether or not you subscribe to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule, you have to admit that some of us are tempted to put in the time and expect miraculous returns. But, even Gladwell had to define its limitations:

“There is a lot of confusion about the 10,000 Hour Rule that I talk about in Outliers. It doesn't apply to sports. And practice isn't a SUFFICIENT condition for success. I could play chess for 100 years and I'll never be a grandmaster. The point is simply that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be made manifest. Unfortunately, sometimes-complex ideas get oversimplified in translation.” http://www.businessinsider.com/malcolm-gladwell-explains-the-10000-hour-rule-2014-6#ixzz3ZCseZy5n

The Oxford Dictionary defines Tenacity as: NOUN; the quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly; synonyms: persistence, resolution, endurance, stamina.

Do you have these qualities? Are you willing to persist through dozens of rejections; resolve to send out your manuscript one more time; and endure until an agent or editor embraces your work? If you do, then your stamina will take you far.

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." ~Seneca

Are you prepared? If not, get going now! You never know when opportunity might come your way.
There’s a party joke going around among writers. It goes something like this:

“What do you do for a living?” he asks.
“I’m a writer,” I respond.
“When I retire, I’m going to be a writer, too.” He beams with satisfaction.
“What do you do for a living?” I ask.
"I’m a neurosurgeon,” he replies.
“When I retire I’m going to be a neurosurgeon, too.” I respond, as if it were a possibility.

The fallacy is that if you can write, you can be a writer. For those of us who take our craft seriously, we know how much time and effort it takes. No less, at times, than a practicing surgeon, as we hold the life of our characters in our hands.

Have you mastered your writing yet?

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