Third first time post: Weakness

Last week, I blogged about a Slacktivist post on how practice makes us, if not perfect, a lot better.
Down in the comments, someone alluded to a study that found one of the things that make great musicians great (and ditto golfers and others) is that they don’t simply practice a lot, they target practice to fix problems. Weak putting? They work to make it good. Particular passage of Mozart where their playing is sub-par? They do the same.
I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with this idea (Quite aside from “practice” for writers being obviously different from physically practicing a particular skill).
•Agree: If there’s a problem with a particular story, saying “Well, I hope all the good stuff outweighs it” is not a good approach. I’m a firm believer Murphy’s Law applies in writing: No matter how many stories I see published with cardboard characters, weak plots or stupid ideas, I never assume I’ll get that lucky: I make mine as good as I possibly can and fix every problem I spot. And if an editor points out a new one, I fix it again. Not that this translates into instant sales. Or even sales after a few months (or in some cases, years). But I figure it must be improving the odds.
•Against: It’s very easy to focus on what we can’t do to the point we ignore our strengths. If I’m great at erotica and incompetent at fight scenes, writing stories that focus on the sex and minimize the fisticuffs makes more sense than trying to add action scenes and struggling to be good at them. Mystery writer Lawrence Block said in one of his Writer’s Digest columns (and if you can find either of his books on writing, I highly recommend them) that he’s seen writers convince themselves that good writing is whatever they can’t do; then, in the quest to become better, they concentrate on that and ignore what they can do.
I suppose the best approach is to fix weaknesses in every story we write, but to pick stories to write based on our strengths.

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.