It’s NanoWriMo season again, and it’s time to talk about patience. Believe it or not, this is not an anti-NaNo piece. On the contrary, writing quickly is often one of the best ways to shut up the inner editor! However, it’s important to understand how your skills as a writer develop and what realistic goals you can set for yourself.
Writing is a Skill
Yes, it takes some degree of talent to write. However, even that talent benefits from frequent practice and exercise. No matter how initially talented you are, you will get better the more you write. That means you probably won’t do your best work today – or even tomorrow. Everything you write today, though, moves you forward, and you’ll never reach the skill level you dream of without doing the work today.
Think of it like athletic training. Someone may always beat their siblings in basketball games without any training at all, but in order to make it on the high school team, they need training. That practice in high school prepares them for college, and college gives them the training and connections they need in order to play professionally. Writing may not have such clear “level-up” moments, but the principles are the same. You practice, you work, and you improve.
Good Writing Isn’t Always About Publishing
Here’s the dream: You write a novel, barely have to edit it, and then a publisher snaps up your work and you become a best seller. We all have this dream. It’s really lovely. It’s important to remember, however, that the art, joy, and life of writing go well beyond this dream. You may achieve parts of that dream, like getting published and writing a bestseller, but you may not hit those goals right away.
Writing is beautiful and time-consuming. Even if you’re a quick writer who exceeds the NaNoWriMo word count every year, developing skill takes time. Writing is intensely personal. Writing involves honing your thoughts as much as developing your vocabulary. You must train yourself to not only notice things, but consider them. That’s how good writers become great. This also takes a lot of time, and whether or not your very first (or second, or third) book gets published, you are still writing, so you are still increasing your skills.
Walking around with a story in your head is exciting, and you want to commit that story to words as quickly as possible. That’s great! There is nothing wrong with writing quickly. You simply have to understand that writing quickly won’t necessarily bring you the things you want at an accelerated pace. You probably won’t write like Oscar Wilde the first time you pen a play, and your first YA novel likely won’t go to press. You are still moving towards those goals, though. When you write, focus on your writing, not how rich you will be when you become a bestseller. Writing is its own reward, and all the best things come slowly.
Have patience with yourself. Writing takes time, even if you type quickly. The good news is, every word you commit to your latest project increases your skill.