Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Writing Muscle

We often hear about our brain being a muscle and how it needs to be fed, nurtured and exercised if we want it to function optimally. I tend to tune out when I hear people talk about things like that, because I'm hearing it constantly. Yeah, yeah, exercise, eat healthily, I get that message thank-you-very-much its sensible advice. But my exercise routine is all like...

I think we ALL get the message. Whether or not we can all subscribe to that healthy ideal is another issue entirely. Yes, eating salmon, going for a walk, doing a crossword, and making sure you get at least six hours of sleep is probably as good for your brain as it is for your health, but ... It won't transform you into a fabulous writer. It might help you focus, might help you write more efficiently, hell; it might even help you think of fresh ideas and overcome writers block! So I'm certainly all for it. But there is only one thing that can really improve your writing - and that's writing!

Most of us complete our first MS (that we have spent the better part of a year or more pouring our soul into) and our focus becomes the success of that MS. We dedicate ourselves to revising, getting critiques, entering contests, querying, and sometimes forget to keep writing new things. When we stop writing our skills become stagnant. If you are a new writer and have written one MS, it is going to be very difficult to hone your craft sufficiently through revision alone if you are not creating new and more refined words regularly.

If you have taken your MS as far as you can and it is not getting to the response you have been hoping for, starting something new might be just what you need. It's strengthening your writing muscle.

This reality has struck home recently. I began two more full novels in the same style as my first, and then tried two new ideas - just for fun. I tried a POV (third person) that had not tried before, and another (also in third) in a genre I had not previously dabbled in.

It was not surprising that each new MS would better than the first, but there was a big surprise... The ideas I tried just for fun? Well they turned out to be the ones that seem to be working out the best. The thing is, if I had not experimented I would never have evolved.

 Yes, our writing skill is like a muscle. Use it, practice it, and become a stronger writer. 

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