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.