Writer, Professional, Good – John Scalzi on what it means to be a writer

Writer, Professional, Good – Whatever.

My advice to anyone who wants to be a good writer is simple: Stop thinking about being a good writer and start thinking about being a better writer. Work on the things you know you want to improve on. Stop thinking that you’re going to cross some line and then suddenly you’ll be a good writer. It doesn’t work that way, and even good writers still have things to work on (trust me on this).

Good and timely advice for someone who has just spent several weeks writing, submitting, and then rewriting two 1500 scenes for my writing course.

After the two courses I’ve done this year, I’ve learned just enough to get a sense of all the things I don’t know. I’ve arrived at the place where natural skill ends and work begins. I can knock out words with the best of them, but it takes work and more work and then more after that to produce something finished, something that does what I want it to do.

I find being a novice difficult because I expect myself to be good at things, so this new place is both daunting and enormously exciting. Daunting because I don’t know what I’m doing and exciting because I’ve learned that I can get better, that work leads to improvement. I don’t have to sit around waiting for the lightning flash of brilliance, all I have to do is practice. Brilliance is out of my control, but practice, that I can do.

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2 Responses to Writer, Professional, Good – John Scalzi on what it means to be a writer

  1. iamroewan says:

    This is so true. I remember starting at my current job thinking that while I wouldn’t be brilliant at it I would at least be “good at it” given my smarts, my experience, my work ethic, etc. In the first six months I almost quit at least five times, thinking I can’t do this! Turns out it takes self-awareness, a willingness to listen to advice (even unwelcome advice), patience, and lots and lots of of practice. I still learn something new almost every day.

    • Janettes says:

      Being a beginner is a bit chastening when you’re used to being good at stuff…I’m still getting my head around it. It seems that you’ve got it sussed now though…

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