During a conversation with other writers yesterday, I became shocked, SHOCKED, at how many think that they are so good that they don’t need further study or guided practice. At how many choose beta readers for a pat on a back instead of real feedback. At writers that don’t revise. At writers that think that BOOK REVIEWERS don’t have useful critiques and are only good for marketing and promotion (I always take reviews to heart. Someone went through the trouble of pointing out strengths and weaknesses. I won’t disrespect them by ignoring it). At writers that don’t read. At the pure arrogance of thinking that you are at the height of your powers and don’t need to grow anymore. It’s the height of elitism.
Could you imagine a professional musician that doesn’t practice for hours a day? Can you imagine a doctor that doesn’t follow new breakthroughs in medicine. Can you imagine an athlete than doesn’t practice or go to the gym? Can you imagine any job where you don’t try to improve on it?
Writers maybe be born with an inclination and talent toward writing, but without people to guide them, they will never get better than that innate talent. Their arrogance stunts their growth. A good writer is humble and knows that no matter how good they are, they can always get better.
It’s simple. The difference between an amateur and a professional is that a professional understands that they have far to go, no matter what their skill level. They stay on the quest. They absorb knowledge and put it to use. They learn from other writers, whether they feel that they are better or worse. They read books of all kinds and analyze style and form.
They never stop growing.
There’s no such thing as a perfect story or a perfect writer. There is no ceiling. A writer can always grow, and a writer that chooses not to will never get better. Instead they will reinforce the weaknesses in their work. Just because you like the smell of your own farts doesn’t mean that anyone else will.
Writing is a craft, a learned skill. Learn that skill, and keep learning. Don’t get high on your talent, because it’s not enough. And if you think that your talent lets you write “great stories because my friends tell me that they’re great,” think about how great you’d be if you got over yourself.
Dammit, get over yourself.