How do We Keep Improving our Writing Practice?

Writing Your Destiny picI spent over a decade of my life as a professional business writer. Add to that my years as a Sustainability Director at a non-profit in Chicago, which required that I do a lot of grant writing and create many types of marketing collateral,  I did a lot of writing.  Even during my years as a product engineer, writing was a big part of what I did to make money.  And during all these years, I appreciated editors.

I never had much problem in receiving criticism on ways my business writing could be improved.  It wasn’t difficult to keep a distance from my writing.

Creative writing is different for me, but probably shouldn’t be so much.

Many years ago, I took a few classes where my creative writing was critiqued in workshops, and I mostly hated the process.  I can’t really imagine getting a MFA where my creative writing would be workshopped and made to fit some mold.

Yet, I have to admit that I will need an editor for my novels.

I have been refining and editing drafts of my novels for years.

This year, I will finish the first novel, because my attitude about writing the novel is beginning to feel like it did when I was writing professionally for someone else.

I have stopped thinking of my creative writing as needing to be perfect or precious.  I want it to be beautiful, which I believe is a different focus.

Thought for today:  How do you view your writing as less precious, so that it can be edited and refined to be the best it could be?

Reading to Improve Writing and Life

stephen king on writingFor the last several months, I’ve been reading, writing and coaching a lot more, but sadly blogging a lot less.

So, I wanted to share some insights from some of the books that I was reading.  Today, I’d like to discuss the insights I received from On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King.

This an older book, and a somewhat odd book for me to read.  I don’t like the horror genre much.  I tried to read The Stand and it scared me too much.  However, I very much felt inspired by King’s book on writing.

If you’re looking for a book to encourage you to take a long view of your writing career, this is a good one.  He also gives some recommendations on how to get started and perhaps to get an agent. I also liked that Stephen King doesn’t use outlines.  I probably need outlines, but I somehow like that Stephen King proves that you don’t need to use an outline to write best-selling novels.

The funny thing about this book is that the way it helped the most, was that it inspired me to start exercising every day.

Not only does King write and read every day, at least according to this book he walks 4 miles every day.  I decided to try a 4 mile plan.  I’ve been walking or cycling 4 miles a day for a month and I have so much more energy for writing and the rest of my life.

Daily Contemplation:

Have you read any books lately that have helped you with your writing or life?

Reading Vs. Writing Vs. Living

Hildegard reading and writing

Hildegard reading and writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time balancing my love of reading and writing with the art of living well.  I have always loved to read. I prefer reading to writing, though I can’t live without writing either.  Unfortunately, I’m not quite as blessed as Hildegard of Bingen as shown to the right receiving holy guidance as only a saint can.  

To this day, years after beginning my journey as a writer, I feel so lucky that I have found ways to make a living as a writer, and live a life of imagination. At the same time, I have often felt a bit guilty about working with thoughts and ideas as a business. I tend to admire farmers, construction workers, marine biologists, athletes and anyone who spends a lot of time immersed in the “real” world as people doing real work.  I sometimes wonder if it’s indulgent to be a writer when so many people in the world have to do mind-numbingly difficult physical labor.  It almost seems wrong that I can garden for fun and take yearly road trips to beautiful places.

But fortunately, I have been reading some great books lately, that remind of why we need writers in the world.   Through the writing of others, we get to inhabit other worlds and get a sense of what it is/was like to live in other places and other times either through reading or writing. I enjoy reading the blogs of so many of you — all with your unique perspectives on life, and your contribution to making the world a better place.

As I considered how to approach Writing Your Destiny this year, I decided to pick a theme for the year that seems important to so many of us – Integration

To find a way to live a life we love, we must integrate all our disparate parts.

One way I am going to integrate this year is to write more about other authors, and the importance of writing our truth.  There are a few books that I just finished reading that I am eager to share with you in the next few days and weeks.

Here’s to integrating your passions into the most meaningful life you can create this year!

Daily Contemplation:

Are you struggling with integrating the disparate parts of your life?

What needs integration in your life?

How do you integrate reading and writing into your life?