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Improving the Craft

May 26, 2014

Here’s something else you probably already know: the craft of writing fiction, like any other art form, requires practice to produce quality work, and writers of all levels can always improve and refine their craft. This blog’s major purpose is to give me a reason to practice writing when I’m not able to focus on actual stories for whatever reason. Between working on longer form projects, dealing with eye-strain headaches, and life’s many distractions, there hasn’t been a lot of new material posted here lately. I don’t know if that’s going to change in the near future, but it does worry me somewhat that I’m not really getting in the practice that I need.

(I often do a fair amount of writing for my day job, but it’s not really the kind of writing that I think of as creative. Maybe that counts for something in the way of practice. Maybe it just contributes to my eye-strain headaches.)

So, besides actually writing, what other means do I have of improving my creative skills? Well, for one, those that aren’t doing can always watch. Or listen as the case may be. I’ve been downloading and listening regularly to Writing Excuses.

Writing Excuses is the weekly podcast of three professional novelists (Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Mary Robinette Kowal) and one web cartoonist (Howard Taylor of Schlock Mercenary), all about the craft and business of writing fiction. Each episode is typically less than 20 minutes long (despite the tagline). I’ve been sporadically working my way through their back-catalog and, besides being informative, I’ve found them to be invaluable sources of motivation. They frequently have other writers come on the show as guests as well, so listening to a season is like getting a survey of what’s hot in speculative fiction right now. I definitely recommend Writing Excuses for any fiction writer who isn’t already making a living at it. (And if you are making a living at it, I’m sure you already know about Writing Excuses, because one of the hosts is freakin’ Brandon Sanderson!)

For two, there’s the old tried and true method of putting oneself in a situation where you have to write. Since I can’t seem to find other writers in my position who are able to make time for a writing circle, I’m setting out to kill two or three birds with the same hand grenade, by attending a local writers conference. From June 27-29, I’ll be attending the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference, which is hosted annually at L.A. Valley College. Maybe I’ll see you there?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 28, 2014 8:08 am

    That’s really great that you use your blog to practice writing and hone your skills. I find I go back and forth between writing properly here and writing more casually, just doing info-dump or using lots of… ellipses and not really caring about syntax too much.

    I think all writing is practice, even if it’s not a practice in creativity. I’ll definitely check out Writing Excuses. Thanks for the tip! 🙂


    • May 28, 2014 8:55 am

      I agree all writing is practice. And I often don’t worry too much about syntax myself when blogging. Or at least I try not to….

      Thanks for stopping by.


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