Writing Secrets: Craft shouldn’t interrupt the flow

 In Jo-Anne Richard's blog, Tips for Writers

Every now and again, we come across people who are hesitant about learning the craft, thinking that it will interfere with their joy in writing.

It will make them feel stilted, they believe, halt that magical flow they feel when it’s going well. That’s fine – if you wish to write only for your journal, and if no-one will ever see it but you. If you do want it to have a wider audience, there’s a certain point at which you have to come back and refine it.

Writing is a craft. The more you hone it, the better you’ll become. There’s an advantage in that: it means there are not simply a couple of specially gifted people out there who can write. Sure, some people are born with a talent, or perhaps pick it up early through reading and writing. But what it does mean is that everyone can improve – no matter what their level of talent – sometimes significantly so.

As you practise what you’ve learnt, many of the skills become intuitive. You’ll no longer have to think about them so consciously. And if you forget some in the rush of a creative moment, who cares? Learning the skills means training the eye so that, when you come back to read through it again, you’ll be able to spot the aspects that don’t work as well as they could, and fix them.

People write in different ways. Some people allow it all to gush forth, while others plan and write more deliberately. Some people do something in between: a modicum of planning, coupled with a level of spontaneity. It doesn’t matter. All these methods work for different people.

But the less planning you do, the more work you must be prepared to do in the rewrite, and the re-rewrite, and possibly the re-re-rewrite. There’s no shame in that. It’s part of the method.

But no matter what your process, learning the skills to follow your chosen path will help you to be the best writer you can possibly be.

Read Richard’s latest blog: ‘Monday Motivation: Embrace it, you’re a sadist and a masochist

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