Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Credulous Skeptic, Apr 15, 2009.
Has your writing gotten better or worse over time? Or has it stayed the same?
Better. MUCH better. Why do you ask?
I asked because I'm getting the sneaking suspicion that practice is futile. At least for me it may be.
The only way to get better is to practice. Don't make the mistake of thinking that practice doesn't help. Writing is a skill, and just like any other skill, it will wither if you don't practice. I once went for a month without writing, and it was pretty painful trying to get back into it. Never again.
I think anyone would get better over time. If your writing is getting worse with practice, then you're doing something wrong. Maybe you need to switch genres, or mix up your style, or change your point of view (first person, third person). I tried all of those at once, and it worked wonders on my writing.
Practice definitely made me better. Not only did my prose improve, but the quality of my essays for school improved as well.
Of course it's not going to help if you don't believe it will.
Of course there's a limit to how much better you can do just by practising, it's not going to help much unless you also continue to read other similar books and have your worked critiqued (by yourself or others) to figure out where you're going wrong. [/Obvious]
Practice CAN reinforce bad writing habits, but I believe that combined with harsh self criticism and plenty of reading, your writing will improve with practice.
Keep your older writing, and compare it occasionally with your current writing, If you really think your older writing is better, dig in to try to find what has changed for the worse.
Strangely, I dug up a story that I wrote back in high school. It's probably the only one that escaped my destroy-these-out-of-embarrassment spree of '04. I was surprised that I wrote it-- somehow, reading it over while it was still fresh, glazed every sentence with ugliness, but now I see that it had a smoother and richer tone than much of what I write now.
That said, there were some things I didn't know then, or have an eye to catch. For example, I was taught that third person was always omniscient. This piece was unconsciously third-person single-focus, so it gets confusing when it shifts to omniscient just because I was taught that third-person was made to do just that.
My point, I guess, is... I don't know. Maybe you're still looking too closely at your new stuff, to judge if you're getting better? Maybe it's a matter of learning the improvements on technicalities, but at the same time maintaining the innocent passion? Keeping in the groove of consistently expressing yourself, until you're comfortable and confident with doing so, like FMK described, is certainly supposed to get better... but, in terms of the product's readability, maybe not necessarily. Maybe the self-edited penultimate draft is actually where we see the most improvement from experience, but I wouldn't really know... Good question!
Most of my writing is short and to the point.
I admire writers who can elaborate on an idea for hundreds of pages, especially nonfiction writers. How do they do it?
It's called filler...
Well, it can also be that the person is very passionate about the subject. Remember, writers aren't writing about every subject in the world. They're writing about what they are good at writing.
Heh, I pity you, Credulous Skeptic. If you want to write so badly, then just DO.
None of us here even know how well you write.
I have a problem with writing "flowery" writing. I wish I could be right on point, like you. Writing, combined with feedback, is improving my ability.
You should see some of my essays-- most of them are in The New Yorker. Oh, and just for kicks and giggles, I regularly contribute to The New York Times.
Send some my way? I'd like to read them. What are the essays about?
They are about brilliant.
The article you wrote on staying out of the slush pile was pretty informative. It fits right in there with a lot of books I've read on the subject.
That article was taken from the slush pile. You'll notice no difference in the way I write and the way others write. I have connections. How else do you think I can write for such a highly regarded publication. Steve Martin was lucky, too, because of his connections, and also gets to write for The New Yorker.
I'm going to take your advice and use fancy paper, and printed borders next time I submit an essay to the New Yorker. I'll have to look into using 16 font. Large letters should grab their attention.
So just to see what you were going on about, I went to one of the stories you've posted. I didn't read the whole thing (not yet anyway), just glanced at the way you constructed your sentences. You write well, if I can base that opinion on pure syntax. But even good writers have room to improve--there is no such thing as a writer who has reached the top and the inability to strengthen their writing in some way.
As for writing improving over time...I only notice that it has for me because I keep journals and a couple years after I've written them I'll dig them out and look at them and go "I wrote that? That's horrible!"
Progression as a writer doesn't happen over night--and it only happens when you write *every* day. That's why it's so important that we *write* as writers.
Hope something I said helped..
What's wrong with this? There is no point in being jealous of others' skills. My cousin, Daniel, is beating himself up because he doesn't think he can be good as Bob Dylan (who is father hero-worships). I told him that it doesn't matter if he ever gets as good as him. All that matters is that he tries to be the best Daniel he can be.
My writing has greatly improved after practice. Don't think yours won't; give it some time.
That's quite an emulation!
For some reason I've been around Bob Dylan stuff all day today.
Most writing is; 'once you start woffling you start being boring' as my girlfriend would say.
Thanks for all the replies.
"Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect."
I guess that goes along with what Cogito said about practice potentially reinforcing bad habits. Just make sure you're doing the best you know how right now, practice, and always look for opportunities to learn more about the art. Then you are bound to get better in time.
I don't necessarily think my writing has improved very much in recent years (probably due to a lack of any practice, perfect or otherwise), but my ability to self criticize and find errors is markedly better, especially after a few short months on this forum.
Separate names with a comma.