What if “better writer” was the journey and not the destination?

[This blog post appeared on International Christian Fiction Writers on January 29, 2018]

Every writer under the sun wants to be a better writer.

Each of us has the carrot of being a better writer dangling a few feet in front of us, always out of reach. Even those whose names grace our bookshelves – including the ones whose names feature again and again – want to get there. In fact, the best writers never stop reaching for being a better writer.

So apart from the usual advice – you know, you need to do 10,000 hours before you become an expert – how do you actually get there? Surely it’s more than “keep practising?”

Here’s another way of thinking about that: what if “better writer” was the journey and not the destination?

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As I’ve continued to develop my writing skills, I’ve spoken to countless authors and read everything I can get my hands on when it comes to what I need to reach the Holy Grail of being a “better writer”.

Treating the drive to be a better writer as the journey does something inside my head. Once I start to think about improving and developing as I go, it does a number of things:

  • Take the pressure off. If you realise you are always becoming a better writer, rather than short of your elusive goal, it can take pressure off you. I know it has with me. Any improvement is an achievement, not step #5 in a 5,000-step process.
  • Help you to enjoy the journey. I’ve found when I travel that if you focus too much on the destination, it can make the journey seem like something to be endured, not enjoyed.
  • Realise your improvement is a constant, not a goal. I set out on my writing journey thinking if I learned enough things, I’d eventually make it. But it’s not that. I’ve learned you need to keep learning.
  • Puts my earlier efforts into context. I look back on my first manuscript, or my first draft of my current WIP, with different eyes. It’s no longer a poor first effort, it’s now the best I could have done AT THAT STAGE OF MY DEVELOPMENT. And now I’ve developed beyond that.

So that’s why I now view being a better writer as a journey. How does that sit with you?

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