By Patricia Gray
If you’re busy turning out bestsellers, quantity is the answer, right? But if you want to write a literary masterpiece, then quality is more important. Well, not exactly. These two writerly desires for most of us are inseparably linked, and here is why.
The more you write, the more you increase your chances for the really good pieces to emerge. Not only does writing a lot help you learn the craft, but writing proves to your subconscious that you are what you profess to be—and you have the pages to prove it. Once your subconscious gets the message, it won’t distract you as much when you sit down to write. And sitting down does help. As fiction writer Flannery O’Conner once said, “I sit at my typewriter from ten to twelve every day, so just in case something comes I’ll be there to receive it.”
To remind myself of all this, I promised a group of writers to finish a piece of creative writing every day in May 2018. We email our finished pieces to about six other committed souls before midnight each day. We do that without giving or receiving feedback. Every day there’s a feeling of having done what one was meant to do. It’s also a reaffirmation of what is important to people like us—actually doing the writing!
Though we may have to trick ourselves to do what our whole hearts want to do, the next step in the process—sending it out for publication—may also require some sleight of hand. LitHub author Kim Liao wrote recently about setting a high rejection goal. If you aim for say 100 rejections this year, you will have to send things out. In the process, you’ll up your acceptance rate and remove some of the sting of rejection, because, after all, isn’t rejection what you’re aiming for?
“Ok, ok,” you may be saying, “but I want to write really well, if I’m writing a lot.” The Writer’s Center has plenty of workshops to help you do just that—but here is something especially for poets that you might want to look into. I will be teaching 3 Poems in 4 Days, June 4, 5, 6 and 7, 2018 in TWC’s temporary home. In this workshop, you will find that it is possible for you to write both often and well.