Several months ago, my wife decided to pursue a post-graduate degree online. Being that she’d been 15 years removed from a classroom, naturally she felt a bit verklempt about having to write research papers. “How am I supposed to write a research paper?” she asked. No, she didn’t. She didn’t have to: the look on her face betrayed everything. So what’s a husband to do during this time?
Simple: write a few of her papers. SHH! DON’T TELL ANYONE! Look, before you accuse me of being a ringer, let me just defend myself by saying that I raised the idea of writing a few of her papers. She trusts my writing instincts. I can write an academic paper. I can write a technical requirements document. I can write a proposal. I can write a blog. I can write prose.
So what does that have to do with this blog post?
Even though I may only squeeze a few hundred words for my Work in Progress, I don’t ever feel as if I haven’t done any writing for the day. I’m constantly writing, writing something. Some will argue that a writer should only focus on what they’re writing, i.e., a manuscript, but I don’t think that’s very valid.
At the risk of firing off a corny cliché, writing is like exercise: the more you write, the more fit your writing becomes. And like exercise, you have to mix up your workouts in order to get into the best shape possible. I started this blog a few weeks ago as another writing exercise, a writing workout, so to speak. Sometimes you hit the gym and do some weight training. Other times, cardio. Sometimes you want to take a long run. In writing, sometimes a 500-word piece of flash fiction is just the right exercise you need. Other times, it’s a blog post. Other times, it’s a NaNoWriMo challenge. Whatever works.
Blogging has been a constant form of writing exercise for the past 7 years. I would dare say that blogging made me a better writer. Having an audience means keeping that audience’s attention, and doing that means you have only so much times (and can use only so many words) to continue grabbing their attention. I learned to stop rambling, and be more concise. I learned how to properly craft a sentence. And all this happened because I was blogging on a nearly daily basis.
Another form of writing exercise I like to engage in is the review. I know, I know, reviews are like assholes: everyone’s got one. Point taken. The best reviews are the ones that go beyond “Hey, I liked it!” I go for an approach that includes how a book or film or song impacted me. Recently, I’ve gone as far as to take a more dramatic, free-form approach to reviewing. Again, more writing workouts that can only make my writing fitter and healthier.
Whatever it is I’m writing, I’m flexing my writing muscles. And that’s helping my writing out a great deal.
So flex those muscles, my fellow writers. Flex those muscles.