Are you ready for the challenge?

How good of a writer can you become? How much do you want it?

30 years ago John Naisbett published his book Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming out lives. It was based on ten years of research and wound up on the New York Times bestseller list for two years.  Much, if not all, of what Naisbett predicted has come true.

We are living what he predicted.

We are in the age of information he foresaw.  The lion’s share of our  economy is based on the exchange of information.  Companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet and blogging, think tanks, research institutions and corporations, international news agencies–all those and many more more traffic information.  It has become the coin of the modern world.

Bottom line: Having skill with your language is vital.

It always has been, really. But now more than ever, it is indeed vital to your success. It is vital if you want to make yourself heard, not to mention be taken seriously. It is vital in your relationships with the people who are dear to you.  It’s part of being human.

It’s an addiction

If you’re a writer, or if you merely want to feel comfortable calling yourself a writer, understand that being accomplished at speaking or in conversation and at putting words on a page is a life long pursuit.  Good writers get better because they want to. It’s an addiction, a good one.

Is there a writer you admire?

His words move you, amaze you, tear up your eyes or make you laugh? You think, “Wow, would I like to write like that!” Your next thought will probably be, “Yeah, but I’ll never be that good.” Hey, I’ve been there.

Don’t be hasty.

How good you can get remains to be seen, doesn’t it?

Your potential is alwyas there, waiting.

One thing I’ve learned about human beings: our potential is real and mostly uncharted territory.  You just never know how far you can get until you try–and keep trying. A terrible accident and a little girl is trapped under the wheels of an SUV, and her frantic father nearly kills himself lifting the car up by himself, and she is rescued.  Climbers survive a freezing storm and make it to the top of Everest, then live to tell about it.

And Jon Morrow, a life long victim of muscular dystrophy, who has faced death several times, who must use speech recognition software and a mouse moved with his lips to write, is now one of the most successful and respected bloggers on the Internet. And if that is not enough, the Web has dropped into our laps amazing opportunity.

So what will you say?

What do you want to tell us? And more to the point, how well can you tell us?

Will your words be dead on arrival, or will they grip us?

Will they persuade us, challenge us with language that wakes us from a walking slumber and delight us like wind chimes in a  breeze. Will it clobber us with potent ideas that cause us to resonate inside with silent shouts of “Yes!”

Being a writer is a good thing.

Becoming a better writer is a worthy goal.  Yes, it takes work. It takes a lot of work, and not just on an occasional weekend. You have to keep at it.

So what can you do?

1. Make up your mind that you will get better–as good as you can get.

You’re in this for real, you’re serious, and you will go for it. And you won’t quit, even when you fail and get discouraged at times. You’ll fight for what you want. You’ll do the work.

Sandra Madeira of mywritingchallenge.com just completed 366 days in a row writing blog posts, each day.  She works. She has a family, children to take care of and read to at bedtime. She has more than one blog. And today, a year later, she is a better and more confident writer. She and her daughter baked a cake for the celebration. You should have seen her smile.

2.  Put that piece of writing by an author whose writings you love on the lab table and dissect it, analyze it. Find out how it works. Discover its secrets. Learn its magic. Then do it!

3. Be on a perpetual quest, not just to get better at the writing craft, but also to figure out the things you can do that will be worth your time and study and produce tangible results in your writing.

And you’ll pause at some point on your writing journey and notice something: I really am getting better.

It’ll warm your heart.

“Pros are always looking for a chance to get better, to improve their craft just a little more.”
— Jeff Goins in You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One), Kindle Location, location 198.

_________

Note: Sandra Madeira’s blog address as I listed it in the post above has changed. It is now http://mywritingnotebook.com/

You’re invited to check out her posts which I anticipate will continue to  include interesting insights from her writing journey as well as her usual practical writing advice.

8 thoughts on “Are you ready for the challenge?

  1. Sandra Madeira

    Hi Bill
    Great post with lots of very useful advice as usual. We are definitely in the age of information. Thank you so much for mentioning my blog – that’s very kind of you.

    (Bill – hope you don’t mind me saying that it’s mywritingnotebook.com not mywritingchallenge.com in case anyone wants to pop by and see the posts).

    Thanks
    Sandra

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Thanks Sandra,
      I will update the post and include your new blog address at the end, and of course I don’t mind your mention my oversight.

      Reply
  2. Daphne Gray-Grant

    Interesting post! I think you’re missing one key tip, though: People who want to write need to write DAILY. (And by that I mean five days per week.) You wouldn’t call yourself a hairdresser if you didn’t cut hair every day and you wouldn’t call yourself a mechanic if you didn’t fix cars every day. To be a writer, you actually need to WRITE — not just study writing.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Thank you Daphne,
      And that’s certainly true. Doing it every day is one of the key ways to get good a nearly anything! Glad you added that reminder.
      Appreciate your comment.

      Reply
  3. Joe Matsch

    I love this challenge!
    Very motivating to pursue, but what about those who lack creativity?
    Is there any semblance of hope for those destitute in imagination?

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Hi Joe,

      Glad to see you visiting, and thanks for the comment.

      Hmmm, creativity: The capacity for creating something new, either something totally new or a new version of something that already exists–that results in value that can be shared.

      You wrote, “Very motivating to pursue, but what about those who lack creativity?” I’d bet my favorite palette of watercolors that you’re already creative, Joe. Perhaps you just don’t recognize it when it occurs. Creativity is figuring out some new fun activity to do with you sons. Creativity is finding a new way to give training to the guys at your station. Creativity is discovering anew route to drive home after work or planning a dynamite vacation.

      Creativity takes many forms. It can affect everything. It is mainly an attitude of openness to the possibilities and then the courage to act on them, at least some of them.

      You also wrote, “Is there any semblance of hope for those destitute in imagination?” Absolutely! Imagination is an integral part of human thinking ability. Think about it: how could we plan without imagination? Right now, can you imagine an emergency occurring, a scary one, hard to face, that sets of alarm bells–and how you might respond? Of course you can.

      Both creativity and imagination are mental muscles. When you go to the gym, you don’t get as sore you did when you first worked out, do you? You’ve trained, practiced; your muscles are used to the effort pretty-much, aren’t they. You can even get creative in the gym without disaster, I bet! 🙂

      Use those mental muscles and you get better, it gets easier.

      When I started painting watercolors years ago, I believed God would give me the abilities I needed. I’ll leave it to you to judge whether He answered that request!

      Thanks again, Joe. Say hello to all at your end, Myrna and the boys!

      Reply
  4. Amy Deardon

    Hi Bill, great post, as always. Writing every day is certainly important — my most productive times are when I keep a log posted on the refrigerator and actually RECORD my daily word counts. Sadly I’m not always as disciplined as I should be. You’ve got a great reminder here.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Hi Amy, and thanks.
      Yes, I’m a real record keeper. That sense of accomplishment in putting down how I have managed to make progress on my writing projects, as well as others, is a little reward for me. Course any blank spots remind me when I haven’t been diligent. And, I see that my weight has been climbing slowly lately. Should be an incentive to eat less, right? 🙂

      Reply

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