When writing, I sometimes find myself frustrated with my ability, or lack thereof, to convey my ideas through words. There are days where my mind is married to language, and I can write productively for hours. The ideas flow through my fingers and I lose track of time. On other days, I feel like I’m wrestling with the Kraken. It’s on these days I need to remind myself that writing is a craft, and it’s only as good as the time I put into it. That said, sometimes I procrastinate by searching for writing advice, hoping to find some useful suggestions for improvement. A few days ago while doing one of these searches, I came across the counsel of Ursula K. Le Guin:

Inexperienced writers tend to seek the recipes for writing well. You buy the cookbook, you take the list of ingredients, you follow the directions, and behold! A masterpiece! The Never-Falling Soufflé!

Wouldn’t it be nice? But alas, there are no recipes. We have no Julia Child. Successful professional writers are not withholding mysterious secrets from eager beginners. The only way anybody ever learns to write well is by trying to write well. This usually begins by reading good writing by other people, and writing very badly by yourself, for a long time.

Just the swift kick to the pants I needed to get back into writing, and maybe justify reading a few more good books, too.

Note: For fans of Ursula K. Le Guin, check out this amazing documentary project that’s underway about the author’s life.


Photo credit: Gorthian (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) ], via Wikimedia Commons