To become an expert you have to practice. This goes for writing too. I look with amazement at people who tell me they “write” and when I ask “What have you written?” they say “Well, um, nothing yet.”

I mean – can you imagine someone saying “I’m a doctor”, and you asking about patients and him saying Well, um, I don’t have any yet.”

To be a writer you need to write. I know I’ve said that before but I think it bears repeating. When you go to bed at night ask yourself “How many words have I written?”

Never mind that the dog got sick or your in-laws came to town or  you had to take your car for servicing – how many words did you write?

Never mind that your friend was on the phone to you for an hour, you couldn’t miss your soap opera or you just had to give yourself a manicure – how many words did you write?

Some writers set themselves a daily goal of, say, 1000 words a day. The number doesn’t matter as long as it is reasonably achievable for you. You need to write a lot to become a writer. Some of A lot of what you write will not be great but you need the practice.

Parents used to tell their kids “Practice makes perfect”. You don’t hear that a lot these days, and perfect may not be realistic, but still … practice is the only way to improve anything.

But what will I write? Write a character. Think of someone whose path has crossed yours in the last day or so and describe that person. Describe them as they are, describe them as a horrible villain, describe them as a brilliant inventor, describe them as a medieval saint.

Describe them as if you are in love with them, as if they annoy you, as if they are dying, as if they are suddenly twenty years younger.

Tired of characterization? Try setting. Describe your house, your best friend’s house, your dream house. Describe a kitchen in a hovel, in a mansion, in a train.

And dialog. Dialog is hugely important and it takes practice to write that well. Practice dialog between two people who love each other, but disagree on this one issue. Dialog between two people who dislike each other but who are forced to get along to get the job done. Dialog between a child and his imaginary friend.

Write a journal, write a blog, write letters or emails. But write.

Make it a habit, a good habit, a habit you’d never consider breaking.

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