Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Goal of Improvement

When I was much younger, I had dreams of becoming a best-selling novelist. Imagine, millions of people waiting to purchase my next book as soon as it comes out, flooding my inbox with questions and comments, and my only job would be writing. I know that there are best-selling authors in the world, and despite how few of them there are, I find a lot of beginning writers share a very similar dream.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with lofty aspirations, but I suggest a goal that all of us can work towards regardless of whether or not anything we write ever becomes published: to improve our writing. We should be able to look back on something we wrote a few years ago and recognize the fact that we’re writing better now than we were then. Why do swamps smell? Because the water is stagnate. Our writing can become fairly putrid as well if we stop moving forward.

By focusing on the craft itself, we find something achievable to set our sites on. No more disappointment (or at least not devastation) because the last story written didn’t make it into a professional market as we’d hoped. No more pity parties because we just turned X years old and still don’t have a novel published. Instead, we look to the improvements at hand and say, “Yes, this story is better than the ones I wrote a few years back, and I’m going to work on some weaknesses to make sure the next few I write are even better than this.”

Let’s work on getting better. No one can stop that dream but us.

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