Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It Takes Time

About twenty years ago I started a course in public speaking. Over the course of two years, making twelve speeches on different subjects, listening to and evaluating hundreds more, I learnt how to speak in public effectively and without fear. Well, not much fear anyway.

For my first speech I was allowed 5 minutes and, like all the new people, I was wondering how on earth I was going to fill that 5 minutes without repeating myself endlessly or stumbling over my words. By the time I got to the end of the course, I was allowed 10 minutes and was wondering how I could keep within the time limit.

'What's this got to do with writing?' I hear you ask. Quite a lot.

When we first start out, we wonder how on earth we are going to write 80,000 words. How can I describe a mountain, a hill, a person? We look to other authors for help, but find that we can't replicate it, or when we do it sucks.

By the time we've been writing for a while, we wonder how we're going to keep the story under 150,000 words without missing out on vital details. It's how things go. We learn by practising our craft and by experimenting.

Today, look back at your early work and see how far you've come as a writer. Treat yourself for growing and learning and remember that in a few years time you'll be even better.

Enjoy the day.


Milo James Fowler said...

I sure hope so -- I look back at things I wrote earlier this year and I cringe a little. I can only imagine how much I'll hate my current work in a few years! But you're right, by then I'll be much better.

Martin Willoughby said...

Milo: I cringe at things I have to correct in my current WIP. Every piece of writing teaches us something. Terry Pratchett's early books are good, but they show how raw a writer he was. Look at him now.

Freya Morris said...

hmmm interesting. I think I'd like to do a course like that. Sounds very useful and I could do on brushing up.

Nick Wilford said...

I have a pathological fear of public speaking - I volunteered to go into my stepdaughter's school to talk about my work as a writer, and I was absolutely sweating beforehand. However, there was no problem in filling the 5 minute timeslot - waffling has always been my main downfall. Now I edit myself as I go along to make sure I'm getting somewhere, and I see this as the main improvement over stories I wrote say 10 years ago, which invariably never got finished.

Martin Willoughby said...

Freya: The best tip is to remember that you know what you're going to say, the audience doesn't.

Nick: Every improvement is a step in the right direction. Keep at it.