Most of us experience doubt at some point in our creative lives and all of us are constantly striving to improve. So, how do you make your work match your ambitions? How do you make yourself a great writer?
First, you need to love writing and you need to know what good writing is. As Ira Glass explains, most people get into creative work because they have good taste. They may not be able to create great work immediately, but they know it when they see it. You have to read enough to know what good language tastes like, what it feels like on the page. Even Hunter S. Thompson used to type out pages from “The Great Gatsby” just to feel what it was like to write like Fitzgerald.
You need to understand the rules. You need to understand structure and character development and plot and the cadence of spoken language. You can get that from reading, from asking questions, from taking lessons, from whatever source you fancy, but you need to make yourself an expert in your chosen field. Then, once you know the rules, you can break out of the structure, or choose stay with in it. You can be as creative as your imagination will allow.
You need to see your writing as a job, a skill that you want to hone. You don’t have to write on a typewriter, or only write great work, or ask for others praise. You just have to write. You have to write every day. You have to have faith that the rubbish you are putting down on paper will gradually improve into something you can be proud of.
It may take you years but, once you have created something that you don’t hate, you should start to get feedback. Start off with your mum or your best friend if you want. Give yourself a little confidence boost. Then choose people from your field and ask them to be brutally honest. Heed their advice. Edit. Show them again. Try not to be destabilized by negative reactions. Start again if you have to. Push yourself to improve. Don’t give yourself a hard time if it takes a while. That’s normal. Keep going. Finally, be proud of yourself. Be proud that you stuck with it. Be proud that you have created a piece of work that you don’t hate, something that know is pretty great.
That’s my advice but what do you think? How do you make your work as good as your ambitions?
Check out this great video made to the words of Ira Glass: