Saturday, August 2, 2008

Why I Write: To get better at writing

Writing is a long slow (and conscious) process of building my ability to write.

I’ve been writing for a fair while now. Though I haven’t achieved as much as I feel I should have in that time (due to my various struggles with writing), I have written quite a lot.

One of the main outcomes of all that work is my growth as a writer. Looking back at my writing history shows me how much I’ve grown. Which gives me hope that I will one day become the writer I want to be, and create the work I aspire to.

I want to be always growing as a writer. I’m disappointed when I feel I’m not continuing to evolve, and that’s been a source of frustration for me the last few years.

But ultimately I find the fact that I have gotten better as a writer incredibly exciting. It’s part of my journey through life. Who knows where it’ll end up?


Benedict Reid said...

I think that every writer (or at least most of the successful writers) feel that they haven't written enough, and that they are still trying to get better. As you know... I listen to a lot of podcasts of screenwriters talking about writing (it helps me feel like I'm not alone in this struggle). The interview Kim Hill did with Greg McGee yesterday included him explaining a version of your "to get better at writing" concept.
I have to paraphrase here (as I heard the interview yesterday), but he said that he hates "Foreskins Lament" He's sat through hundreds of performances of it and never wants to see it again. But when people come up to him and are excited about it, he's always careful to be cheerful and polite. This is because he once saw Oliver Stone yell at someone who said they liked "Salvador". Stone was ranting about what a terrible film it was and how much he'd learnt since he'd made it. When McGee saw that happening, he realised that it's important to support your past work. While you always must believe you're getting better as a writer, you have to acknowledge that the work your past self did was also good in its own way.
Boy. That was rather long-winded. But I hope you get my point. You do get better as a writer... but that doesn't mean that the scripts you have in your bottom draw are less good than the stuff you're writing now.

Sean said...

Thanks man - those are wise words.

I do have a problem with dissing my old work and always wanting to get past it - in fact I'm going to be discussing about some of that in a future post. Really it's another form of perfectionism - believing that at some point in the future I'll get perfect and the now/past is never good enough in comparison.

It is good to own what I've done and support the person I've been and what I've accomplished. And also to respect the opinions of people who have enjoyed that work for what it is.