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Today’s blog post is brought to you by the letter e; E is for evolution

July 17, 2012

A few years ago, my daughter decided to write a short story for some contest at school–middle school. When she finished, she brought it to me and asked me to read it. A relatively decent father, I did. And I said all the fatherly encouraging things that made her smile.

Later, when my wife asked about it, my answer was different.

I hate her.

You see, my daughter’s middle school brain guided her to naturally do things in her writing that I had to learn to do. I’m a good writer, but I’d just had my butt kicked, in a way, my a seventh-grader.

That’s not to say her writing is perfect. She’s currently in college, and while her writing is well-suited for her assignments and the model UN position papers she writes, it’s probably not going to result in a well-conceived and executed short story or novel. Not yet anyway.

And that’s because writing is an evolutionary process. As you do it, you improve. And you improve over vast periods of time. You can’t pop in a DVD, let Tony Horton guide you through some exercises and emerge 90 days later with your writing ripped, lean, and muscular. There’s no such thing as P90x for writers.

So that thing you’re writing that you’re probably going to throw out in the next six months–it’s valuable. It’s valuable because it’s going to help you be a better writer later. It’s valuable because it doesn’t take six months to write your entire novel or nonfiction book; every word you write helps you build to that point.

If you’re struggling with something now, it’s because that’s what comes with the job description. A writer that doesn’t struggle, doesn’t improve.

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