I came across a link on Twitter the other day to writer Dean Wesley Smith's blog. He's been writing a how to write guide on the web and publishing it chapter by chapter. I've read a couple of the recent chapters, but this post hit me where it hurts. What he does is take myths that people believe about publishing, and debunks them. This is, of course, for the folks like me, who aren't published but would like to be, that need real advice and not wrong ideas to follow.
As I read through it, there was one idea that made the biggest impact. He says that writers need practice, which is something I've always understood, writers write, right? But then he said that tinkering, polishing, and reworking a story that you have already written is futile. The way you learn to write is to write, not tinker. Sure, fix the typos, but after that, send it off to editors to get rejected. Then, using their comments, write a new story, working on whatever it was they said you needed to improve. He calls it focused practicing. You should never write a story that doesn't have some kind of improvement you are focusing on.
I've started in on the whole practicing thing. As a matter of fact, I just finished writing the story that I mentioned a few weeks ago.
But now, I need to make sure that the practice I do is for a purpose. I need to get better at something with every story that I write. I'm not writing to get typing practice, but writing practice.
For example, Liz Mierzejewski just read one of my most recent stories for me to give me feedback. She said that I needed do more showing less telling and to avoid info-dumping. So, I'm going to focus on that in my next story writing effort. I've had this idea for a long time that involves a computer crash. Now that I've got a lot of good first-hand knowledge and experience of the subject, I think I'm going to try to write it. So, focus on showing in the story I was thinking of calling Megatron (although, I suppose that'll never fly if it ever gets published, but then again, I don't expect it to. I've got a lot more practicing to do I think).