Read most author blogs about the writing process or listen to authors talk about their craft and one thing becomes clear with regards to becoming a strong and successful writer: you have to write. Everyday. Even if its only half an hour. It’s about practicing. Professional athletes do it, they go out to the court or the field, run, shoot hoops, left weights. Athletes condition their muscles and their minds. Same goes for writing.
Between 6:30AM and 5:30PM I am at a job, a corporate position. I’ve written about this job. It’s analytical. Numbers. Financial statements and tax returns. Problem solving. Boring stuff for a writer who wants to escape inside his own head, move characters around a world of his own making like chess pieces on a board, test their limits, push them to new emotional levels, just invent crazy creatures and new exciting places. Break that down to its basic level and I want to tell interesting stories. I am a storyteller. A communicator.
Now I do this primary through writing novels. At night I step inside my worlds and spin tales out of those crazy places that exist inside my head. Thing is, I also communicate during the daily grind of my corporate job.
Part of my job in those eleven hours is not simply to crunch numbers but to communicate what those numbers mean to my bosses who sit high up in the ivory tower of the bank I work at. I do this through memos and reports, I even write policy for the bank. Yeah, I’m kinda important to the bank’s success and continued operation. I’m just saying… Anyway, those bosses need to understand what the numbers mean so they can decide if what I recommend is right for the bank. My co-workers need to understand the goals of the bank and the rules the bank needs to follow to comply with regulations set down by the government.
All of this I do by writing. All day I’m writing. I’m communicating. Now, I can tell my bosses and coworkers what is good for the bank and how our processes works. However, I am more effective showing them. Authors say the way to engage readers is to show and not tell them about the worlds and characters in a story. Engage the readers. Take them to the world. Make them part of the story.
Sometimes I get carried away. Really. My first supervisor in my first position (literally two days after I graduated college) referred to me as Dickens because I used what he called “flowery language” in my loan reviews. Too many adjectives he complained with playful grin. Eventually I found a way to create a hybrid writing style that worked for my professional corporate writing. But corporate writing did teach me something. It taught me simplification and most importantly… I learned that writing was not about me and my prose but the reader and giving he/she value. Authors call this “killing your darlings”. Faulkner said it first I think. Anyway… bottom line, same translates to writing fiction. So I learned something about writing in my corporate job. I am a better writer today because I never stopped learning and I write all the time, even at work.
Everyday I practice my craft. I write at work. I write at home. I’m exercising my creative muscles, improving how I transport my readers to inside my worlds.
If you’re a writer struggling toward success, know that every bit of writing you do teachers you something, it’s author bicep curl toward the buffness of the greats like Martin or Sanderson. Remember that as humans we communicate with each other every day. We share stories, myth, history, our daily adventures, even why or why not as business should be granted a loan. Never stop communicate. Never stop writing.