Take a stroll through your local brand-name bookstore or peruse one of the big online book sellers and you will find thousands of books claiming to espouse the secrets for success in any given field, be it business, exercise, organizing, etc. Writing is no different.
I am often tempted to increase my knowledge base by investing in the newest, latest, best book, hoping that it will provide me the “edge” I need to get ahead. And, to be honest, I do think that it is important to continue learning and expanding my mind. However, I think that it can also be a crutch that keeps me from writing.
If you read interviews with any of the great authors throughout time, you will find that the one thing you must do to be a writer is, in fact, to write. Quite the revelation!
So often, we writers spend more time thinking about and pondering our writing than we actually do writing. I think it is natural because we operate in the world of thought and ideas. And most of us absolutely love reading. But we cannot stop there. While writing does require thought, if I never put ink on paper or strike the keys on my keyboard, I am no more a writer than the next guy.
Can you imagine a dancer who did nothing but think about, read about, and study dancing? Or a painter who only studied art theory, color, and materials, but never put paint on canvas (or plaster, or wood, or whatever he is painting)? These artists must take a leap of faith (quite literally, in the dancer’s case) and actually perform their crafts. The dancer will fall, will produce awkward movements, and will twist an ankle from time to time. The painter will choose a “wrong” color, or will find difficulty in creating the image she desires. But it is in the “doing” of their chosen fields, to include hearing the ugly voices of harsh critics from time-to-time, that will help them to hone their skills and produce things of beauty.
Writing is no different. My writing leaves much to be desired. And so I am tempted to buy each book that promises to improve my skills and help me to write the next bestseller. But these are sales techniques. I’m sure that there are nuggets of truth in many of them, and I’m sure that there are great tips that can help improve my writing. But, as many of the “Greats” will attest, the only way to really learn to write, is simply to write.
I believe that this applies to any craft.
So, what is it that you want to do? Well, then, stop thinking about it, and DO IT.