The Non-negotiable Writing Exchange

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What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

For people dedicated to the craft, writing is an impactful part of their lives and identities. I mentioned in another post, “I acquired and honed skills to interpret and craft words, using a range of prose (and a tiny bit of poetry) to harness the resilient power of language for liberation and resistance.”

Endeavors to generate words can be powerful and empowering, making writing a tool and art form requiring commitment. 

Dedicated writers pick up their pens [or fire up their keyboards] to share their perspectives and stories. The better ones know that wordsmithing involves layers of composition, drafting, editing and revising—all of which require development. Only deluded writers think that their skillsets are fine and they don’t need to hone them. 

Two mistakes many new writers make are thinking that all writing is the same and it will not take that much work. 

Many writers erroneously think what goes on in their heads will immediately translate, but it takes reshaping everything to produce a story readers want.

Mis Quince Años (22)I realized at the beginning of my writing journey that it would take a lot of work and my talent was raw with a need for refinement. Professors and editors ingrained in me the idea that no human is a perfect writer. We are all changing and hopefully improving. I signed on to be the strongest writer I could at each stage of my life and experience. I’m always learning and evolving and wouldn’t exchange the undertaking for anything.  

I don’t need to make any trade-offs to be a better writer because the thought that anyone can reach a pinnacle of the craft is a pure fallacy. Ultimately, subjectivity results in every writer encountering critics who will denounce their art. No piece of literature drafted by a person will appeal to or be considered good by everyone.

Even readers fanning a writer won’t like everything she produces. Stephen King wrote his novel Misery after fans of the horror writer dragged his epic fantasy The Eyes of the Dragon.  Thus, detractors and range of execution make the idea of a “better writer” ambiguous and any barters to be one intangible.  

Writers consistently search to make their art stronger, shifting in style and execution. While doing so, they avail themselves of personal, emotional, and spiritual growth brought by every trial and triumph. Not merely the act, but the process of writing shapes them, creating a Toni Morrison, Beverly Jenkins, James Baldwin or Lyndell Williams. How tragic it would be for me to disconnect from a tradition that gave the world literature and me a means for inner exploration and voice. 

You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world… The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even but a millimeter the way people look at reality, then you can change it. – James Baldwin

For me, the quest to be a “better” writer-and the ordeals that come with it-is too precious for some kind of hypothetical swap and intrinsic to who I am for an actual exchange. 


Keep those keyboards clicking! 

Mis Quince Años (21)

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5 thoughts on “The Non-negotiable Writing Exchange

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  1. Your ideas are interesting, Lyndell. I agree that writing is a continuous evolution and a writer learns and improves all the time. Writers do not produce the same style of work all the time and I don’t think they should. They should aim for the best quality but variety is necessary. I often think how different Stephen King’s books are from those he produced under his pen name of Richard Bachman.

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  2. I agree, my style has evolved and if I wrote my first novel now, even though the story would be the same, the telling of it would be completely different. What has made it evolve is another matter. Obviously I’ve changed, as has my ability to write as I’ve written more but which factors have caused it is a matter for conjecture.

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  3. I wrote three books before I turned out one I thought was good enough to publish. I don’t consider that a waste of time but part of the learning process. Two of those may end up getting published someday after a lot of revisions.

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  4. I loved this, and I didn’t know about the Stephen King book. (I assumed he had one, but I don’t read enough of him to know which.) We are all imperfect writers, which should be reassuring.

    Liked by 1 person

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