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Nov 9, 2017
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How to create a DIY writing apprenticeship

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Quantity is the path to quality (or, practice makes perfect-ish)

Someone left a comment on my post about my experiment of writing here on Medium everyday for thirty days that said, basically, it’s quality that matters, not quantity.

And on the surface I agree. Obviously, writing mountains of crap that never gets any better is not a solid writing career plan.

But the truth is that there is only one real path toward quality and that leads right through quantity.

In other words: practice makes (kind of something sort of close to) perfect.

French author Jules Rendard said:

Talent is a matter of quantity. Talent does not write one page, it writes three hundred.

I bet if I could ask him, he’d agree that talent actually writes 300 pages, and then keeps going. Talent writers 300 pages, then does it again. And again.

If you you want to become a good writer, you have to write a lot.

“A writer’s apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he’s almost ready to begin.” — David Eddings

I get how hard that is to absorb.

Because the idea of writing starter books no one will read is like the idea of locking your starter babies in the attic so you can gestate a better one. Unthinkable. Barbaric.

I love the idea of early writing as an apprenticeship.

There are so many resources out there, where you can learn from masters without ever meeting them. Without them even needing to be alive.

Ray Bradbury spelled out exactly what an aspiring writer should do to gain mastery. I wrote about that here:

He also collected essays that are a master class in writing in his book Zen in the Art of Writing.

Stephen King gave simple, concise, intensely useful advice in his book On Writing.

Chuck Wendig’s blog Terrible Minds is full of great advice. This article changed the way I write.

Hugh Howey gives aspiring authors advice about indie publishing.

Here’s one way you could put together your own DIY novelist apprenticeship.

  1. Make an agreement with yourself to write five books in five years, even if none of them are published.
  2. Learn as you write, so that each book is more well-written than the last.
  3. Find another writer at about your level of skill and experience and develop a partnership with them. Be critique and accountability partners. Exchange work weekly and pay particular attention to improvement.
  4. Follow Bradbury’s advice: read a poem, an essay, and a short story everyday for 1000 days, and write a short story every week.
  5. Read a writing craft book once a month for a year.

By Shaunta Grimes

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