Writing is an appreciable skill that, too often, can seem exclusive to gurus and savants. While it’s true that there will always be those who are naturally good at something, some of the best writing comes from those who needed to earn their accolades through near-constant practice. This is not to say that naturally gifted writers do not need to practice – of course they do. The vast majority of good writing, however, comes from those who honed these skills over countless hours.
The old saying is “practice makes perfect,” but this is misleading. “Perfect” cannot exist for writers – and any writer who believes they’ve achieved it probably is not that good of a writer. Writing is a wholly iterative process, a forever-unfinished sort of work. Such an idea is hardly unique, but one worth remembering at all times: practice makes better.
Coming to terms with unending work may sound daunting, depressing, and taxing – compounded by the realization that perfect cannot exist. With the end result of any piece inherently imperfect, one must choose to see the beauty in one or both parts of producing content: 1) the accomplishment of progress or 2) the joy of the journey.
The first choice is somewhat simple to grasp: recognizing the improved quality of one’s work. Using one’s past work as the benchmark for current work is the only fair way to grade one’s writing. While it may be tempting to grade against others, there are already third parties doing this. An individual can draw inspiration or drive from others, but the only true judgement they can impart is on their work compared to past work.
Assuredly, comparing current work against old work can also be frustrating at times. Writing may be an appreciable skill, but it is also one that atrophies quickly. To judge against old works may irritate, but it should not discourage.
The second choice is a bit more abstract: enjoying the process. Each writer must determine for themselves what this could mean. It’s likely that most writers do enjoy the process, but what they enjoy about it can vary wildly between individuals. One can take pleasure in researching, drafting, outlining, revising, or any other part(s) of their process.
Some writers, however, may see the process as a means to an end or even suffer through their process. The work “passion” comes from the Latin “pati” which literally means “to suffer.” Consider that for a moment, one’s passion requires a level of suffering.
Whether one takes joy or simply endures through writing, all who choose to write have their own mandates. One thing remains clear, though – to write well means to write often.
Practice makes better.