Last week, I confess that I struggled to find consistency in my writing. Fellow amateur, fellow aspirant, that should not be. Too much is at stake. Without further introduction, here are 4 reasons why we should write.
Consistency Builds Strength
If we take for granted for a moment that writing is intrinsically valuable, then there is only one way to improve – practice. There is a moderately famous experiment in which a college ceramics professor told one class that their entire grade was based on one pot and they had all semester to research theory and methods, and produce their individual creation. The other class was graded based only on the number of pots they created. I’m sure you see where this is going. By the end of the semester, the class that made the most pots, graded only on quantity, not quality, still produced better work than the group who slavishly studied the One True Pot.
I play the guitar. Not well, but I can keep a rhythm and give you any of the most common 20 or so chords. Even after nearly 18 years of strumming the strings, I cannot for the life of me play an E-flat. I can see the arrangement of frets I need to hit in my mind, but I cannot do it, because I have not practiced it. I physically cannot stretch to hit both that fourth fret on the second string and the first fret on the fourth string, and that shortcoming is entirely my fault, because I don’t try.
By all means, reader, read about writing. Consume advice from more experienced authors. Read for pleasure and absorb good writing by osmosis. You can learn best practices and glean some tips this way, but the only path to improvement is to then apply what you learn. Repeatedly.
The Joy of Creativity
Human beings take pleasure in beautiful things. There is a unique joy in finding just the right phrase to powerfully convey the image in your mind. The title of this blog, Write Before Dawn, is both terrible wordplay and terribly literal. My writing time is about 5am. At the time of this writing, it is summer here in the northern hemisphere, so I catch a beautiful sunrise every morning. The foliage of the mature oak in my front yard scatters blushes of crimson and creamsicle as the first tentative rays dapple my picture window. Do you see it?
Conversely, if there is no joy in it, there is no point. Life is too short to dedicate hours to pursuits you do not enjoy.
You Have a Unique Voice
Reader, no collection of atoms, electrical potential, and that mysterious force we call consciousness, spirit, or the soul has ever existed or ever will exist in the exact arrangement that we call you. While we share a common humanity, and nobody need ever be truly alone, your individual experience is unique. That distinctiveness gives you a singular perspective shared by nobody else across history. If writing is something you love, then there is no better way for you to share your unique story with the world. I sincerely believe that for you.
Fiction changes minds
Have you ever stopped to consider why, in a good novel, you react emotionally to the characters and scenario on the page? If we step back and look at the situation logically, there is no reason that should be. You are sitting in the comfort of your home, staring at ink on paper, picturing the product of somebody else’s imagination. The reality is, we are hard-wired to engage deeply with fiction.
We remember narrative more easily than any other form of communication. Stories create empathy, as our brains treat imagining an experience almost identically to the real thing. We instinctively seek deeper meaning in stories, particularly in ones that challenge or reinforce our core beliefs. You may not be writing the next 1984 or To Kill a Mockingbird, but in your writing you have the opportunity to reach across time and space to impact your reader’s thoughts. Every work of fiction is therefore also a challenge, a responsibility, and a privilege.
That’s all for this week’s novel update. I plan to start substantive editing next week! What gets you up early or keeps you up late writing? Let us know in the comments!