Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Just Like Your Mother Said

One of the irritating things about growing up is that you discover yourself saying things your mother said to you. Once you rebelled, now you've become a doppelganger. My mother used to say Practice Makes Perfect to the grumpy teenage me, and it made me determined to do as little practice as possible. But grudgingly I have to admit that, as far as writing goes, practice makes...well, not perfection, but it does make it easier.

I can remember those essays at school when filling two sides of A4 seemed an impossibility. At university essays were supposed to be longer, though I'm not sure I ever achieved anything like the required length. My first short story was 400 words and I couldn't imagine how on earth it could ever be any longer. On my MA, I can remember gaily padding out my 3000 word essay with as many quotes as I thought I could get away with. (I only just managed to squeak a pass mark so I think they noticed.)

But now, nearly ten years of writing short stories and novels has left its mark. Give me a keyboard and I'll rattle off a couple of thousand words without a problem. Novels are about 500-700 words an hour, other writing - blogs, emails etc - is more like 1000 words an hour. Transferring words from my head to the page has become, with practice, a natural process. Writers write, and the more they write the more writerly they become. Just like my mother almost said.

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