Day 23: Writing Experience and the Only Way to Get It

I'm sitting pretty going into NaNo Day 23 with a word count goal of 38,333. I had a break through in plot which I shared yesterday and I a great writing session followed. I wrote a new scene and really felt everything working and coming together. How did I know? Experience. I've written (and read) enough bad stories and lacking scenes to know when they are bad and lacking.

For me, writing is a lot like hockey. You think it's going to be hard to skate on a thin metal blade on slippery ice, but if you understand the blade and gain experience with it, then it isn't anything more than practice and time before you're taking off on the ice. Just like there are misconceptions about writing, a skate blade is also misunderstood. The blade isn't a single, knife-like point touching the ice, but more of an upright rectangle with the middle curved upward. Because of this shape, a blade actually has two sides: the inner edge and the outer edge.

The inner edge (basic storytelling) is relatively easy. It's there, right under you, you lean in either direction, the edge gains pressure, and you spin in that direction. The only real difficulty of the inner edge is having the inner thigh strength (determination to write) to control it.

The outer edge (word choice, pacing, characters, etc.) is much more difficult. Lean too far on that outer edge without enough momentum and you're on your ass on the ice. Don't lean enough and you have no grip whatsoever. Mastering the outer edge takes practice and time, just like mastering these more difficult aspects of writing. Through these things, you start to trust yourself to move.

It's that simple: Practice + Time = Experience

Once you've gained experience, you're ready to carry the puck, check people into the boards, and throw snow in a goalie's face without even thinking about your blades because your body and mind instinctively know how to skate. You can feel it. The same happens when you write. There's a sense you have when a scene is working or not working. Experience not only gives you this sense, but also tells you why something works or doesn't.

Even if you're struggling right now, I hope you remember that anytime you are writing you're working on your experience.

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