Writing Advice

The interview started with the question: What one piece of writing advice would you give to young writers?

I knew the answer immediately without even thinking. Isn’t it obvious? If you want to write, then that is what you should do. The only way to become better at writing is to pracitce and to write. Write. Write. Write.

The mistakes you made in your writing yesterday, you don’t make today. And the errors you will make today, you won’t make tomorrow.

One of the best things I ever learned in my writing came from Julia Cameron, she got me started on morning pages, a practice I’ve been using for many years. I write for at least 20 minutes each day. I do a mind dump. I’ve adapted the practice to meet my needs, but I still use writing to calm me, to make sense of my crazy world and to find out what it is my heart desires. I use writing to capture my whiney complaints. I use writing to cry out my feelings of injustice with the world. And, I use my writing to give words to my dreams.

For several years I attended a writing prompt workshop hosted by Nancy Peacock. Writers got together on a Saturday morning. Nancy would give us a prompt and we would write for 15 minutes. Based on instructions from Pat Schnider and Natalie Goldberg we would write, not edit, not worry about spelling,–just write. If we couldn’t think of somehting to wrte, we were told to just keep writing, “I can’t think of what to write,” over and over until we were moved to write something else. If we ended up somewhere in our writing that we didn’t want to be, that was probably where we were meant to be and we should just keep writing.

The interesting thing for me is this practice forced me to write. It allowed me to write even if I knew the writing wasn’t going to be interesting. But what happened was that always there was something I learned from the writing. I learned not to worry about my writing, to just let it happen. Because it is better to have less than great writing than no writing at all.

I’ve recently been playing with art and sketching, using colored pencils and pastels. I have found that facing a blank page is the hardest thing I have to do. Often, I know what I want to draw, but I know before I start that I won’t be able to do it as well as I’d like to. This dooms the project before I even start. So I often don’t do the art, or I’ll revise my idea to something less. I know what I need to do to get over this because I have my writing practice. So now I have a writing practice and a little art practice that I do daily. What piece of advice would you give to young writers?

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