Your Writing Never Gets Better Unless You Are Willing to Fail
Growing up as a writer in the newspaper business is not for the proud, or for those who believe what they write is perfect the first time every time.
You sit at a desk, minutes before a deadline, pounding on your keyboard and waiting for the scream, “I need it now” from the editor now standing a few feet away. You hit send; then wait for the inevitable beating that follows.
Five minutes later he throws a printed-out version of your story on the desk with enough red ink to make any college writing professor drool in envy. Now you rewrite in minutes, submit again, and then give way to a copy editor who will clean up the second attempt with what you swear is a smirk.
If you survive as a newspaper person, you learn to write with intensity in minutes what most writers take a morning to create, and you can only survive if your ego will let your writing fail.
If you want to be a proficient writer, you have to get humbled early, and often, and be willing to understand your best work hasn’t been written yet, and won’t be, until you master your craft.
We get better when other writers, those with more experience and craftsmanship than us, look at what we do and tell us, “Close, but try again and think of this.”
You need to get read by someone who has gone before you
Your writing will get better quickly if you have someone who is doing exactly what you want to do read and critique your efforts.
For example, if you read someone’s work you admire, ask that person if he or she will look at what you are doing and offer some guidance. Offer to pay for this help.
Take the criticism, walk away, think about it, and begin again. Someone else who is successful living your dream can help you find your own path forward.
You need a writing coach who objectively shatters your world
Hire a writing coach and do the homework. Professional writing coaches can shorten the pain by eliminating all of your common mistakes early in your career.
A good coach can help you create efficient, tight writing that applies to anything you might want to create. As you get better, seek a specialist coach, such as a person who only works with fiction people.
You need to submit your best knowing it still might not be good
Submit your best and expect the worst, at least until you get your first few pieces published. Often rejection is just that; you submit, and then never know why you weren’t accepted. Submitting gets you in the game, and you can spend days studying the type of work they do accept; then compare why your work is different, or a lesser version.
Rejection and criticism is the art of writing. You only get better when the best you can write is objectively critiqued, opening up a higher level for you to chase.
It doesn’t matter how good you are now, getting humbled is always the way to get better.