Write. Write and write and write. And write some more. Write on days when writing flows. Write on days when writing is hard and words are elusive.
Remember. Both types of days are good writing days.
Read. I read books both of the type I write and the type I don’t. I keep an annotated bibliography for my MFA program, where I note a few craft techniques that I admire in each book. I plan to continue this after I graduate because it helps me read more deeply.
Learn from other writers. Classes, critique groups, discussion boards, a mentor. Right now I'm in the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Help other writers. This is a win-win practice. When we help other writers that means there will be more good books in the world. Plus, I find that when I help other writers, such as when I critique their stories, I learn--and in the process I become a better writer.
Critical analysis. This is less scary than it sounds. It doesn’t need to be as formal as a paper or the essays I wrote for my MFA. It can be as simple as a question of how to best write some aspect of our story. Then we can look at how other writers tackle writing craft. I'm doing more critical analysis than normal as I write my thesis this semester.
As I look at this list I realize that all of these practices are part of what I do in my MFA program. The synergy of writing, reading, mentoring, being mentored and thinking critically help as I write my stories.
As I write this I realize there are other things I do. Walks. Hikes. Nature. Sunshine. I often go on a walk when I feel stuck. Seeing things, going new places, visiting museums, wandering around, meeting people, hanging out with friends and family and other writers. All feeds my writing.
Living life fully, in addition to the practices I mention above--is the best thing for my creative work.
Clete Barrett Smith and MR 60%!
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