...just like "a player's gonna play, play, play, play, play, play;
and a baker's gonna bake, bake, bake, bake, bake, bake."
Sorry for the Taylor Swift reference - but it seemed a catchy tune to illustrate the idea that writing is something you do over and over to improve on! The ability to write in a way that will make other people want to read it is not something you're either born with or you're not. This has caught my attention a lot lately, in internet-land. It started with this cheeky response from fabulous author Neil Gaiman who was asked by someone on tumblr about how to get your thoughts on paper. He said this:
"Write the ideas down. If they are going to be stories, try and tell the stories you would like to read. Finish the things you start to write. Do it a lot and you will be a writer. The only way to do it is to do it.
I’m just kidding. There are much easier ways of doing it. For example: On the top of a distant mountain there grows a tree with silver leaves. Once every year, at dawn on April 30th, this tree blossoms, with five flowers, and over the next hour each blossom becomes a berry, first a green berry, then black, then golden.
At the moment the five berries become golden, five white crows, who have been waiting on the mountain, and which you will have mistaken for snow, will swoop down on the tree, greedily stripping it of all its berries, and will fly off, laughing.
You must catch, with your bare hands, the smallest of the crows, and you must force it to give up the berry (the crows do not swallow the berries. They carry them far across the ocean, to an enchanter’s garden, to drop, one by one, into the mouth of his daughter, who will wake from her enchanted sleep only when a thousand such berries have been fed to her). When you have obtained the golden berry, you must place it under your tongue, and return directly to your home.
For the next week, you must speak to no-one, not even your loved ones or a highway patrol officer stopping you for speeding. Say nothing. Do not sleep. Let the berry sit beneath your tongue.
At midnight on the seventh day you must go to the highest place in your town (it is common to climb on roofs for this step) and, with the berry safely beneath your tongue, recite the whole of Fox in Socks. Do not let the berry slip from your tongue. Do not miss out any of the poem, or skip any of the bits of the Muddle Puddle Tweetle Poodle Beetle Noodle Bottle Paddle Battle.
Then, and only then, can you swallow the berry. You must return home as quickly as you can, for you have only half an hour at most before you fall into a deep sleep.
When you wake in the morning, you will be able to get your thoughts and ideas down onto the paper, and you will be a writer."
-Neil Gaiman, from tumblr.
I loved this - the simplicity of "just do it! " yet the acknowledgement that it isn't easy - perhaps finding the berry would be easier??!
Then I loved this quote from a book called Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, “You make good work by (among other things) making lots of work that isn't very good," found on Goodreads. So, the more you do it the better you get; or as the old saying goes - 'practice makes perfect;' or to be super fancy - quantity begets quality (don't you love that old-fashioned word? - not to be confused with a baguette that you eat!)
This reminded me of seeing 'The Rosie Project' and 'The Rosie Efffect' author, Graeme Simsion at an author talk at Berkelouw Books Hornsby. He spoke about how he was never told that writing was something you could improve on - he felt like you either 'had it' or you didn't in terms of creativity and ability - and he didn't think he 'had it' when he was younger. Well, eventually he realized that writing is something you can get better at - and the rest is history as far as the runaway success of his books.
So, Swifty fans or not it's over to you - A Writer's gotta write, write, write, write, write, write...