I have a dear friend who is artistic, creative, and a voracious reader. Earlier this year, she took her passion for self-expression, and for words in particular, to a new place and starting writing a blog about her dating adventures. She was hooked pretty much instantly. She writes honestly and well, and I’m always delighted to see another entry has been posted.
Last week she told me she’s seriously thinking about taking an adult writing course. We’d discussed the possibility before, and in our recent conversation I egged her on again. Whether it’s a memoir workshop, a course on nonfiction essay-writing, or a seminar on some other form of creative writing, I am of the opinion that learning to write better (read: learning to edit better) has myriad benefits—both personally and professionally.
Learning to write better does not necessarily mean making better words hit the page the first time around. It might mean experimenting with prewriting exercises or figuring out the critical, if painful, questions one needs to ask of oneself to improve a draft.
Before, during, or after the writing itself, learning the craft is about figuring out what’s important—plot points, characters, phrases—and what’s not. In a story, a business email, a personal letter, better writing is about communicating clearly. And that means clearing out the junk.
Likewise, sometimes we need to be critical of our thoughts, emotions, and reactions. What’s really important to us, and what extraneous stuff are we letting get in the way of our goals? If we call ourselves writers, are we making enough time to write for where we are in the process, or are we letting our fear holding us back?
Moral of the story: Writing is good for you. Editing is better.