Monday, March 17, 2014

Ask Me Monday: How is writing like a dragon?

So I was sick last week and got nothing done, no Ask Me Monday, no Teaser Tuesday, nothing. But I'm back, and today's Ask Me Monday is going to be a little different.  Instead of answering a question, I want to talk a little bit about writing, practice, and why it's so important to not give up.

One year ago, I began sculpting.  I hadn't taken any classes, I didn't really know what I was doing, I just knew I wanted to sculpt.  So I got some clay, watched a tutorial video online, and then proceeded to sculpt a dragon.

This is my very first dragon.

Back then, I was really proud of him.  I'm still really proud of him.  I know that, at the time, I couldn't have done better.  But I wasn't experienced enough to see the flaws that I do now.  He's terribly uneven.  His limbs are stuck on, and he's a bit smooshed in places.  There are dings, scratches, and fingerprints everywhere, and the orange parts are dirty and mixed with black.  But I didn't know this, couldn't even see it, because I had no experience to draw on.  One year ago, I thought he was almost perfect.

And then, I started making more.  I practiced.  I learned new techniques: blending the limbs to the body so they no longer looked stuck on.  Smoothing the clay so no fingerprints were left behind.  Keeping the different colored clay parts separate so they wouldn't bleed into each other.  Skills that only came with time and practice, with doing something over and over and learning how to get better.

Last month, I recreated my first dragon.  I tried to make him about the same as my first attempt, only I used all the skills I'd learned since then.  This is what a year's worth of practice looks like.

It might not look like a huge difference, but there is no doubt that this dragon is the more refined one.  You can't really see it in the pictures, but the first dragon is lumpy, squashed, bulky, and uneven, with scratches and fingerprints everywhere.  The second one is much more polished and clean.

Put them side by side, and you can really tell the difference.


So, why am I showing you this?  What point am I trying to make?

It is this: the art of writing is very much the same.  When we first start out, we think our writing is awesome. Its perfect. It doesn't need work, its ready to be published right now.  We don't see the flaws, the dings and bumps and uneven parts, because we simply have no past experience to draw upon.  Like sculpting, like ANY skill, the only way to get better is to practice.

I can take out my first dragon and smile at his goofy imperfections, because I know this is where I started, and I've come a long way since then.  I know I still have a ways to go, things I still need to learn, but he is proof that I have gotten decidedly better, and will only continue to improve.  And, if you're a writer, maybe one who is trying to get published, it will be the same for you.  One day, you'll look back at your first story and see the flaws, but also realize how much you've grown.  So don't give up.  Keep striving, keep practicing. You can only get better from here.



  1. Great advice Julie!!

    I am one of those struggling writers myself. Although I do think I have come a long way! I look at something I wrote when I was 13, when I decided I wanted to be a writer and basically knew nothing. OMG, those beginning stories make me cringe!! But definitely agree that they were stepping stones and learning experiences!

  2. I believe so strongly in this idea. Even though I have sculpted clay since I was a child I too will improve. My writing has changed so much in a few years time. Thank you for such a wonderful reminder and beautiful example of progress.

  3. This is great advice! i will take them to heart :)

  4. You are totally right. Looking back on my very first stories (when I was twelve), I see all their flaws and, sometimes, it's frightening. Of course, that means I got better, thugh I still have a lot to improve.

    Well, thanks for your advice, Julie :D

    PS: I love the clay dragons.

  5. Great post! Yes, you get better over time, even if an earlier version is still quite awesome :) I want one of those dragons!

  6. Thanks for the advice! I aspire to be a bestselling novelist when I am older and I make sure to write everyday.

  7. How old are Ash and Puck in the Iron Fey? …fan question!!!

  8. I still want to know how Puck and Ash met....and their ages as well.

  9. Mrs kawaga when ash got a half fey (bc of the soul) did he get other feelings for Meghan or is the feeling Feys think love is the same as humans have when they love?

  10. Hello Mrs. Kagawa! Thank you so much for the advice. I hope I am not too late to ask a question but I have one that has been bugging me for a while. If I am I might ask again in the next one. How do you feel when you finish writing a book? I am just finishing up one that I started when I was very young. Over the years, characters got changed and the story became more complex as I got older. I am now in the final stages of finishing the book but part of me feels hesitant. As odd as it sounds, I feel as if I don't want to finish it because I am going to miss writing it so much. Is it weird to feel like that? Haha! Thanks! :)

  11. For Easter, can you please bring back Ash in a bunny suit? Also, did Megan ever get her permit?

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