Writing is a process … a long and hard process full of frustration, about-faces, and much pencil-chewing. As R.A. Salvatore put it, “If you can quit, then quit. If you can’t quit, you’re a writer.”
I’ve been working on Outlaw Security for over a year now, and am just starting to feel that I’m getting the hang of this writing thing. I’m confident in my ability to produce a “clean copy,” for instance, which means I have mastered the basics of the English language such that I don’t make a lot of grammar and punctuation errors. I’m starting to see how to ramp up the tension and create a riveting storyline. There were spots in the original manuscript that I knew were slow and boring, but had no idea how to fix; I’m starting to get ideas at this point. I read somewhere that the average writer revises a manuscript three or four times before sending it out to the agents and publishers. I believe it.
Whether you’re just starting out or have been writing for years, you can always learn something new about the craft. Like any other skill, writing improves with mindful practice, which means consciously working to better your abilities. A skilled writer aims not to impress with flowery speech, but to fade into the background and allow the magic lantern-show that is the story take center stage in the reader’s mind.