Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E is for Effort

I've met a lot of writers since I admitted to myself  that I've been infected by the writing bug.

Actually, I've met a lot of people who called themselves writers.

There's an old joke: There's two kinds of people in the world, those who divide people into two groups...

I'm going to separate writers into two groups.  There are those who don't write, as much as they want to brag that they have written.  It sounds cool, to say "I wrote a 700 page book about the History of Coffee."  (Although without the cool pictures and the humorous twist that only The Oatmeal can give, it also sounds deadly boring.)
from The Oatmeal

The people who want to be writers for the cool factor (which is something of a joke, but let's allow them that) join writers groups and attend social meetings made up of other writers.  They proudly tell friends, family, and co-workers that they're writers.  They'll go to open mics to get the polite applause a reader always gets, and to mingle with other "artistic souls."

It's true that even a badly written memoir is harder work to complete than many realize (though far too many people accomplish this feat anyway.  And then, self-publish.  <sigh>)

Many who call themselves writers don't actually want to put the effort into writing.  Writing in such a way that our writing improves over time takes a LOT of work.  It means reading well-written books in our genre and blogs and short stories.  It means writing - our own blogs, reviews, short stories, poems and essays.  It means always keeping our minds open for jotting down or recording  story ideas, regardless of where they hit us.

We may or may not tell anyone we're writing.  If we do tell people we're writing, it's more for the joining together of like minds, than the idea of "Ain't I cool?  Please pat me on the back and admire me."  We may or may not "do" open mics, but if we do them, we will also join critique groups, either in person or online, where we can get solid, reliable feedback that makes our work better.

Listening to criticism is unpleasant, but opening our ears to it is part of the necessary effort we must make to make to improve the quality of our work.  Writing another book, while we're waiting to hear back from an agent or publisher and improving our website and reading, always reading... hard work.  The best writers never brag, "Oh, I've peaked, I can't write at any higher level."  The best writers are always reaching for excellence. 

If we're real writers, we want to put the time and energy into it, because to us, the effort is worth it.  Even if nobody ever pats us on the back and says, "Good for you," we do it anyway.

If you've read through to here, you're clearly someone who cares about writing.
So you get my pat on the back.  :-)
What's your story about Effort?