There is an old adage, “Practice makes perfect”. As an artisan, I create product at my jeweler’s bench a few times every week. I either make simpler production pieces that keep my booth’s jewelry racks filled, or spend more intensive creative time working on complex showcase pieces that are displayed in protective glass cases. I’ve learned that as long as I keep making a few items as I go along, I never come to a point where I am unprepared for a sales venue or unable to offer a few new designs to my customers. Practicing my jewelry craft on a regular basis, attending jewelry making workshops to increase my skills, and studying gemology has all combined to make me a reasonably successful artisan jeweler.
Writing, as it turns out, follows a similar business model. To be a successful writer, you need to write something every day to sharpen your skills. I schedule time to work on my novel a few days each week and consider it as I would the time I put in on complex jewelry items. A long term fiction novel takes more time to dream up, to figure out the connections between the characters, and to create a satisfying experience for the reader. On days when I am not working on my novel, I am writing posts for No Wasted Ink or articles for magazines. I consider these works to be like the simpler jewelry pieces, they are popular with the public, I sell a great many of them, but they don’t take quite as much mental exercise as a complex focal piece. Between these projects and commenting on forums and blogs, I tend to write for a few hours every single day. Writing is like breathing. It is what I do.
If you don’t have a blog to spur you to write on a regular basis, the next best thing is to start a journal and use writing prompts to fire up your creativity and hone your writing skills. Your journal can be on your computer or perhaps in a paper bound book such as a Moleskine. No one needs to see your short exercises, but if you have an inspiring day, that prompt could be the beginning to a good short story, novel or article. Your daily writing habit does not need to be long, perhaps a few hundred words at best. You’ll find that as you write, over time your word count will increase and finding topics or stories to write about will be easier.
The following are online sources for writing prompts.