inspiration, Reading, Revision, Writing Exercises

My Three Keys for Writing Success

TLDR: The three keys for writing success (or any success really): practice, seek knowledge, challenge yourself.

In my opinion, there are three keys for writing success (or any success really). To grow and develop, it’s best to intermingle these three activities:

  1. Practice
  2. Learn
  3. Stretch

Practice is where you cement the skills you have learned. Practice nudges you toward stability and strength. Learning is the intake, it fuels the possibility of improvement by adding new knowledge, techniques, and skills. I use stretch to mean, reach beyond your old accomplishments, challenge yourself with goals that you have to stretch to attain. Stretching is the chaos, the risk, the destabilizing force that makes room for big improvements.

I practice by creating new writing and by revising old writing. I push forward the Silver Pod story here on my blog and also privately write new stories as the ideas occur to me. There is plenty of internal pressure to revise: I have a polished novel. One more revision pass with my critique group then I’m going to look for an agent and push to sell it. I have two short stories in the final rounds of revision before I submit them for publication. Others practice with daily writing goals or flash fiction.

I learn by watching youtube videos while I cook dinner. ShaelinWrites is my latest favorite writing channel. I learn by reading books on writing. Stephen King’s On Writing is my latest favorite book on writing. I aim to accelerate my learning. I’ve applied for Clarion West.

For stretching I like contests or aiming to publish in a particular magazine. Contests are good because they have deadlines. Aiming for a particular publication is good because it forces me to read and learn about the style of writing that is popular and sought by the publisher.

Recently I was invited to read a short story at a fundraiser. What should I read that could take under five minutes? An excerpt? That could be a disaster without context, especially with science fiction. The pressure kicked my mind into gear and I wrote a new story that I am very excited about. I had already been reading with the idea of writing a piece targeted at that publication. The short form is ideal for a public reading and is what that website wants.

The three keys are connected and build off of each other. Their proportions will shift, but I find that keeping the trio in mind is a great was to maintain balance and keep forward momentum.

What works for you? How do you practice, learn, and challenge yourself?


2 thoughts on “My Three Keys for Writing Success”

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