In the middle of all these heavy topics about writing scenes, characters, conflicts and so on, it is easy to lose sight of the basics. This is about as basic as I can get: writing is like shooting free throws. Really. (March Madness is in the air…)
Every free throw attempted is taken for two purposes – to count, and to practice for the next one. You can’t practice for the last one; not one free throw you take in a game or in practice will improve what you’ve done in the past. It might improve what you do in the future. Whether it does is up to you. It takes practice. It takes concentration.
Every time you go to the keyboard, or typewriter, or pen, work to write better sentences, shorter phrases, more crisp descriptions, clearer subject references, cleaner paragraphs. Do it for the same two reasons – to score on what you’re writing, and to practice for what you are going to write in the future.
There are no exceptions: if you write sloppy emails, someone will think you’re a sloppy writer. If you post fractured messages on Facebook, someone will think that is the kind of writer you are. And, no matter how much you practice, you can’t improve what you have already published in the past. It’s gone. Write for what you are doing now, and for the future.
And, like a free throw, if you hit the first one, you might get another one.
See you after the Final Four….
Jack Woodville London