Everyone knows that musicians and dancers devote years to practicing their art before performing professionally. And professionals continue to practice and grow in their art even after they’ve “made it.”
Why are writers considered different? Is it because we all learn to read and write in school and everyone can do it? Do we devalue the art of writing as a result?
Whether people do or not, it does not absolve us from the work. Practice, practice, practice! Because Ms. L’Engle is correct. If we don’t practice, we’ll be lousy writers.
Each time I put pen to paper (or fingers on keyboard), there’s a certain amount of practice involved. Not every story idea works. Sometimes a character doesn’t fit. Rather than force it, I’ll stop and try it again. Or make something different out of it. Or admit that despite my best efforts, it’s not working and I should start over.
I’ll be honest. It’s not possible for me to write every day. But if I go too long without trying, when I do start again, my efforts are stale. Repetitive. Unimaginative.
That’s when it’s important to continue. To put in the time. And it gets better, the warm-up that leads to a smooth passage or transition that makes a story work. But without the practice (which is often garbage writing that deserves to be trashed), the good stuff wouldn’t be there.
Practice! It’s the mark of a professional.