The Trouble With Writing

Writing is a bit like cooking.

The more you do it, the better you get at it. If I think back to my first attempts at writing, oh, and my first attempts at cooking, I can look back and laugh until my sides split. While writing seems to many like such a natural thing to do, many miss the fact that it takes a long time to understand what good writing is all about.

I admit to being a very slow learner, so it took me a few books to understand that writing is not about writing a series of nicely spelt words and sentences with impeccable grammar – though it helps. What I discovered was that writing is all about readers. Similar in fact to cooking. You can cook to feed, or you can cook to wow your dinner table guests.

When I started writing, I was getting stuff out of my head and laying it down onto the pages of a book. Cathartic yes, but readable? Well, my mother quite liked it. What I didn’t think about was how readers would react, and more importantly, I wasn’t thinking at all about giving them value. Yes, I could feed my dinner guests fish and chips, but they were expecting something more refined for a Saturday night sit down dinner. Similarly for my readers.

What readers want is the same. A book that has engaging characters, a plot that develops and surprises and that intangible element of leaving a memory in their heads that stays long after the book has been read. Not an easy recipe, but then again learning takes time. Whether it be in the kitchen or at the keyboard.

So for sure be proud of any book you have written, but it’s worth having the mindset that it’s not as good as your next book will be.

The Trouble With Writing
Tagged on:                         

7 thoughts on “The Trouble With Writing

  • 23/04/2012 at 4:09 pm
    Permalink

    Glad to see you’re back. I missed your posts. So true about the book thing. As writers, I think we fall in love with our “babies” even though others can’t see the beauty in them.

    Here’s to that next book, which will hopefully be better than our last attempt. Until then, I’m going to keep pushing my “baby” until others see the beauty in it. ;-)

    • 23/04/2012 at 8:33 pm
      Permalink

      True TC. Our books are always our babies, but then not every reader shares our love for them, so we just have to accept that and move on to write more popular ones. The task of a writer is complex, so you need to balance the want to write for yourself and the need to write for readers. Not always easy to know.

  • 23/04/2012 at 4:37 pm
    Permalink

    I look upon writing as a continual learning curve Derek. The more you do, the more you realise how little you actually know about the subject. :)

    • 23/04/2012 at 8:34 pm
      Permalink

      Ha Jack. I always admit to knowing nothing, and look up at the height of the learning curve. Steep huh? lol

  • 24/04/2012 at 3:39 am
    Permalink

    Hi Derek.. All things can take a lot of practice and expertise.. Even writing, you can be a great one someday even if today you are just a beginner..

  • 27/04/2012 at 7:25 pm
    Permalink

    I agree writing is like cooking. You don’t know people will like it or not but you need to put a lot of effort in it to make readable. Thanks for sharing.

  • 30/04/2012 at 1:50 am
    Permalink

    No one expects a person to pick up a musical instrument and start playing it like an expert. And writing is no different… just because a person can read a book they seem to feel they have the innate ability to write one as well. It looks easy… but writing is hard work! Like learning to play a musical instrument, it takes years of right practice and thousands of hours of experience to master any artistic endeavor. And even then, even after we have become ‘masters’ at our chosen craft, we must continually strive to become better. We’ll never achieve perfection.

    Cooking is an apt analogy to be sure. Everyone has differing tastes… some like spicy food, some don’t. Some people savor gourmet dishes while others are content with hamburgers and fries. But we all value food that is well-prepared and cooked with loving care. And learning to achieve this level of care doesn’t happen overnight, nor are we born with the culinary ability that satisfies both the hunger of the body as well as the hunger of the soul.

    Thank you for sharing… it is always a pleasure!

    Dan

Comments are closed.