Please don’t tell my daughter that when she practices playing the violin I have these crazy images that float through my mind. It is really important for her to practice even if it reminds me of cats in heat or animals being slaughtered.
You can’t tell her that because it would hurt her feelings and she wouldn’t practice. That would be bad for a million different reasons not the least of which is because I stress the importance of practice in everything.
It is why I participate in Just Write and Yeah Write each week.Â They are two of my favorite writing communities because they serve multiple roles and I see them as being part of my writing exercises.
How Do You Become a Better Writer?
How do you become a better writer is a question that I think about often because writing is my craft, my art and my love. It is a place that always feels like home to me and I would be diminished were I ever to give it up.
Practice is important to me because I hate when potential is unrealized. When I think about my biggest fears one of them is to let myself and others down by not living up to my potential.
I might not ever play for the Dodgers or the Lakers but I can become the novelist I have dreamed of. I can become the writer that people want to read.
So when I ask the question about how to become a better writer it is for both selfish and altruistic reasons.
Books and Movies
I try to read a lot of books and watch a healthy chunk of movies. I devour magazines and newspapers and dip my nose into dictionaries.
Stories are a big part of my world and the life I am trying to create. I want to be able to tell lots of them. I want to be able to sit down and know I have a hundred that I could recite and a hundred more that I could just make up.
It is part of why I have multiple blogs and why I sometimes ask you to go visit them. The comments on my stories help me figure out whether they are good tales that are of interest or things people hate.
One day I’ll give my children the keys to my blogs and invite them to pull a dusty tome off of the shelves and learn something about their father that they might not know.
Writers Need Egos & Thick Skin
It helps to have an ego and to believe that people want to read what you can or will write. It helps to have a thick skin too because some people will read your words and tell you that you are an ignorant, no talent jerk who ought to be forced to live in cleveland or Detroit.
Your ego will be bruised and abused but if you believe in yourself you will keep going.
Blogging helps with all of this. It helps provide a place to practice your writing and a place to practice developing the thick skin you need.
I want to be a good role model for my kids. I want them to see how much time I spend practicing but it is hard to do that in a way that doesn’t take time away from them. It is hard to show them how many hours I have put in here and to do so in a way that doesn’t mean they are ignored.
My kids are a big part of why I write. They helped me remember who I really am and what I really want to do.
They are why I started calling myself a writer again, but I continued doing so because of me.
I continued because sometimes names and labels have power and I would wield it to serve my needs.
I am Jack and I am a writer.
craig McBreen January 15, 2013 at 7:46 pm
Ha, I know the feeling. My son played the sax, but for some reason he switched to the French horn. Cats in heat? How about Caribou in heat!
I just wish I had taken up daily writing many years ago. For me, it’s better than meditation. Just picked up Stephen King’s “On Writing.” Very hard to put that down.
Jack January 15, 2013 at 11:47 pm
I almost spit out my coffee, caribou in heat is great. Hee hee.
Love the King book, I just found it to be useful in so many ways.
Jared Karol January 15, 2013 at 5:38 pm
Jack, powerful and pertinent words as usual. Always inspirational when I read your stuff, whether I’m flying high or struggling to put anything down. We’ve been connected via writing for over two years now, and I hope that that relationship continues for a long time, and that perhaps one day we will meet and share stories in real life, perhaps over a couple beers while our kids play in a backyard together.
Jack January 15, 2013 at 11:46 pm
That would be great. I would really enjoy some real life time. It is always a pleasure to speak with you and I am glad you are still writing.
Hajra January 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm
I worry about criticism. Sometimes, way too much.
You are a wonderful and an inspiring writer.
Jack January 15, 2013 at 11:45 pm
I still think about it too. It doesn’t go away, you just learn how to push it aside or so my theory goes.
I appreciate the compliment, thank you.
Jens P. Berget January 15, 2013 at 10:52 am
The hardest part for me, was to stop thinking about what people would say about my writing. Now, I just write, because I love to write, and hopefully, someone will enjoy it in the end 🙂
Jack January 15, 2013 at 11:43 pm
It is hard to set that concern aside. It takes a lot of practice, but once you get to that place it is very freeing.
bridgetstraub.com January 15, 2013 at 9:16 am
I have a scene in my first book Searching for My Wand, where the main character discusses having to help out in her daughter’s Kinder class as they attempt to play violin, which is the one part of the book that I took from real life. It can be brutal! Good for you for being so supportive. Hopefully she will quickly improve.
Jack January 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm
I sure hope so it’s painful. But we can deal with it for a while.
Gina January 15, 2013 at 6:59 am
It was a long and brutal year. The one where Amanda took up the flute. Have fun because I know exactly what it’s like!
When I don’t feel like writing, some of your words about practicing daily run through my mind. It’s like you’re haunting me 😉
Jack January 16, 2013 at 10:55 am
Does Amanda still play the flute?
I charge double to haunt people in snowbound areas. Payment is due upon receipt. 😉
Gina January 16, 2013 at 10:57 am
Lasted one year, thank God!
It’s beautifully sunny today and a balmy 25ish degrees. Feels just like spring! Can’t squeeze blood from a turnip!