The importance of being earnest…

category: Articles
by Alexis Leon


Earnest means “serious in intention, purpose, or effort”. It means serious in the pursuit of one’s goals. One of the qualities all successful writers have in common is the earnest desire to write. It is a quality that every writer, who wants to become successful, should acquire.

Like any other creative profession, writing too is 90 percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration. Every successful writer will tell you the importance of making writing a part of your daily life—a routine activity or habit like sleeping, eating, or bathing.

The amount of time, the exact time of the day (or night), the place, the writing material—all can vary depending on the individual.

Some people choose early mornings to write. Some others write late in the night, after everyone has gone to sleep. Yet another group of writers write both in the morning and evening. Some of them use mornings to write and evenings to revise and edit. Some write for 4-5 hours at a stretch. Some others write for 2 hours in the morning and 3 hours at night. It is a matter of individual preference.

Some people use pen and paper; some use computer; yet another group writes their first drafts or outlines on paper and then key-in the work once they have got their ideas in place. Some writers use a Dictaphone to capture the ideas and later transcribe them on to the computer or notebook. Again it is a matter of preference.

One important thing every writer needs is a writing space—a quite place where he can practice his craft without interruptions and disturbances. It can be a well equipped study, it can be a table in corner of your room, or it can be the dining table when it is not used. You can use any place as your writing space as long as it is comfortable, you can write without interruptions and disturbances, and it is available every day at your preferred time. Some writers have the gift or ability to write whenever they want and wherever they want. But for most writers, writing space is a must for producing quality output.

Irrespective of the location, duration and mechanism of writing, one factor that separates successful writers form others is that they show up to write; day after day, week after week, month after month, and no doubt year after year.

Some days you won’t be able to write anything. You just keep staring at the blank page or the empty screen. Don’t get upset or become frustrated. It happens to all writers. There are good days and bad days. But the important thing is to show up for work—to write, to read, to research, to edit, to revise, to rewrite and to write again.

You can do many things to hone your craft on your bad days. You can read, learn new words and new usages of words you know, read books on the craft of writing, solve crossword puzzles, play word games, and so on. So even if you are unable to write on a particular day, it won’t be a waste of time. You are improving your craft, learning new skills, practicing the ones you already know; all with the aim of improving your writing.

If you are stuck or you don’t have a topic to write about, you can use the prompts available in many books on writing and idea generation. But for a person who keeps his eyes, ears and mind open, I don’t think there will be any shortage of ideas.

It is not very important whether you write or do some activity related to writing. If you write, what you write is not very important. The important thing is to sit in front of your computer or notebook at your allotted writing time every day without fail. Some days you will be able to write and some days you won’t. Some days you will write pretty ordinary stuff; some other days you will write exceptionally well and on a few occasions you will create magic. But for creating the magic, you have to show up and be prepared to capture it.

As they drove away, Gallagher asked, voice slightly muffled, “How did you manage to do such a difficult task so naturally and this fast?
Practice, Sean, that is what it takes. Lots of practice,” Martineau told him and turned into the road that led towards Red house.
– Jack Higgins in Night of the Fox.

Once you start and continue practicing your craft day in and day out without fail, your writing will improve and there will be more days when you could write brilliantly and create magic. Once writing becomes part of your daily routine you will find a lot of things to write about as your subconscious mind is always working in the background generating ideas and crafting stories for you. So, as you progress, your writing will become effortless, the ideas will flow smoothly, the words will come marching out and arrange themselves into beautiful sentences and most of the days you will be able to write something worthwhile.

Once you become a ‘daily writer‘ your output—the amount of quality material that you can produce—will improve and soon you will have something substantial to share with others—an article, an essay, a story, a poem or even a book! Happy writing…


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