Honing Your Craft



We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master
Ernest Hemingway

For a long time, I had a hard time calling myself a writer because I didn’t have a portfolio of finished writing. I can see how in the beginning, all that hiding I did was part of honing my craft. Do I know exactly what it did? It opened me up to a world of other people who liked writing and words just as much as I did. At first, I wasn’t aware of how I was working my craft because I didn’t think I was. I didn’t believe I had any talent as a writer. In my mind, I could never call myself a writer until I had written a full length novel. If that was the case, I’ll forever stuck in the honing stage of my craft.

That’s as it should be

A friend of mine was desperate to get out of her cashier job at a locally run grocery store. It didn’t matter they offered some benefits, and a 10% discount off anything she bought in store. For three or four years, she lived in suburbia and renting a room. It wasn’t her idea of ‘this is your life.’ She would rather work on her craft of writing. Then in June, she was offered a job by one of her customers who heads the second largest Union in Canada. She was excited by this new prospect, and to top it off, she had found a one bedroom apartment downtown.

A couple of months in her new job, she was having problems with the learning curve. There was a few aspects that she couldn’t seem to move past. In the end, she left and went back to pounding the sidewalk for that coveted office job. But she has a couple of incentives to keep her going: she wants to stay in her centrally located apartment (downtown) and she gained new skills while she tried to make her ‘summer job’ work.

What’s the point?

My friend is also a writer. We met at school while taking the same program, where she doggedly followed me for two years! Like anything that we want or desire, we must reach a certain level of proficiently whether that is being the world’s best office girl or writer. But I’ll take this a step further and suggest that this could be a way to honing her craft as a writer. It doesn’t matter what happens to you because it can be used to work out her craft. If it doesn’t kill you why not use it for characters that you have yet to meet.

A Further point

As disciples of Christ, we are honing our craft every day. Our craft is made up of kindness, charity, obedience, perseverance, patience, etc. And some are not easy depending on the situation we are in, but that’s why we are given second chances. A second chance to practise your smile at the pouting person you would rather throw daggers at, or at the person who is quiet and no one talks to because well they’re quiet. And they’re probably really weird or something like that. Just keep at it.

As a writer with dreams of being published, one of the first tasks that I do to hone my craft is: read. I read as much as possible, and according to Goodreads, I have read 202 books so far this year, and the year isn’t over. Another thing I do is besides reading, is read books on the craft of writing.  Right now, I am working on Pinterest to mould my boards to reflect my author’s platform and brand, which I am still trying to shape.

I have been outlining my novel

In March 2016, I started and gave myself a goal to outline a novel, and finish outlining it in a year. It is a very slow process. I have been taking the snail express, and in case you didn’t know, the shell of a snail is probably even more fragile than an egg-shell. I’m going to admit here the last time I completed a novel, it was 108 pages, and though I was only 12 years at the time, it was awful. Over the years, I have failed to write a book by the seat of my pants, so I finally broke down, and bought a book on how to outline your novel. I’ve always believed that the best way to write a novel was with no plans. Just an idea of the main character, and the secondary characters and just jump right in.

What convinced me to try outlining was an experience from last year. I had written 16 chapters of a novel, as I began reading it,I could clearly see it was the back story of the characters! I couldn’t believe it! At first, I felt that the time I had used was all wasted. But I decided I didn’t want to give up, not just yet. Another thing to hone as part of your craft is persistence, and I think I am at a point where I really had a drive to try something that I didn’t think would suit me well. I have nothing to lose, but another way to write a novel.

I’m not finished the outlining, but I gave myself a year, and I am over halfway through. So I’ll let you know this coming March how it went.


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