Writing. Heh, it’s a weird thing, it is. No different than anything else though, I guess. Just as with other endeavors, once someone gets involved in it they want to be “good” and want to know what it takes to be “good” and why some people are “good” but they are not. Well, let me tell you something: In the long run, it isn’t about being good or bad, it’s about you, and small improvements along the way.
I’m a chess player, as many of you know, and once you get the basic rules and strategies down, you have to lose a lot of games to better players. I mean a *lot* of them. Eventually you ask yourself why you are being beat all the time, and analyze your games to find out your own personal bad habits. Why should writing be any different? If you read someone’s work and they blow you away, analyze it a little to see what really grabs you about it, and then try and apply that to your own musings. Step by step is the key, here. Nobody becomes Stephen King overnight simply because they’ve decided they want to write. It doesn’t work like that.
Rather, through a series of small improvements (and practice, ladies and gentleman – lots and lots of practice!) we get better overall. Write for you, and write things you enjoy. If you write with other people in mind you are going to fall short of the mark, almost every time. Write prose and poetry that *you* enjoy, and always put emotion into it. You can’t get a drink from a dry lakebed, know what I mean? Wet it up at tad.
Just remember, nobody wrote a masterpiece best-seller as their first novel. And if they did, they didn’t write that novel a month after they decided they wanted to put pen to paper. It takes time, so be willing to pack a suitcase and stay in a few motels along the way, so to speak.
If you don’t like your own work, it’s likely nobody else will, either. Read a lot, write a lot, then read some more. I believe those to be very important elements to keeping our muse alive and kicking, and ever improving. Write and write until your own stuff puts a smile on your face. Only then are you ready to be competitive and branch out into the world of publishing.