Writing demands practice. There’s really no way around it.
Allow me to reprise one of my favorite statements, one which conceptually applies to many more areas of creativity than just writing. If you really want to be an author but find every instance of going through the rigors of authorship impossibly difficult, it may be that you like the idea of writing a great story rather than actually writing a great story. One must learn to love the process as much as the desired results, else those results shall be eternally upon the horizon and never near inapproach.
Everyone has their off days, and if you aren’t making your living with words, then finding the time and energy to grind out a rough draft may be a bit more stressful when it is accompanied by a full time job. Still, if you can’t find the motivation to put fingers on keys (or more classically, pen on paper) then it’s possible you only like the idea of being a writer, while are no where near to becoming one.
Is it hard to translate the grand schemes and images you have in your mind to a series of paragraphs which bring the reader from apathy toward the story, finally up to a crescendo of fascination and association with the characters? It can be. Perhaps then, my earlier statements sound a tad harsh. Who am I to tell anyone else they merely like the concept of writing much more than actually writing?
Truthfully, I’m a guy who liked only the concept of writing for a long time. When I took writing courses in school, that was the extent of my literary creation. I met the class requirements and pursued the subject no further, in spite of an earnest desire to become a fantastic author. There are crucial distinctions between desires and aspiration. One may describe a simple, starry-eyed daydreaming, while the other encapsulates an active movement toward a fixed goal.
If you’re at a place where you enjoy reading, yet love writing only once your WIP is done, there are a few things you can do to overcome this problematic cycle. I reiterate; writing demands practice; repetitive, intentional, forceful regularity in effort. The habit must be trained upon the will before it can be loved. Imaginative creativity is all well and good, yet it needs quality output to become for others what it is inthe creator’s dream. Practicing all levels of writing will hone a talent, allowing you to properly nozzle your concepts into a powerful stream of words that compel readers to amazement.
Editing was always a hateful process for me, during those writing classes. I disliked it because it exposed what little ability I had. When going back to fix what was wrong with a manuscript, too often there was so much in need of repair, it exposed that I simply wasn’t a writer. What was the point of trying to present these grand ideas, if my ability was simply prohibitive in placing them before other eyes, with the same quality evident in all the marvelous writers I appreciate? Why pollute a great idea by trying to express it, when that would require a severe destruction of its greatness?
Writing demands practice! Over time, I’ve grown to love editing, not because it shows where my talent is lacking or even the converse; where my skills are developed. Rather, it is the process allowing one to sculpt. Writing a rough draft is like cutting an enormous block of granite out of a stone quarry, the baseline of what you will knead into a finished work. Editing is grinding away the bits of that stone and refining the surface until you have completed your masterpiece statue. You are already past the uncertain phase of wandering through the exploratory method, trying to merely generate the story from little or nothing, without knowing that the idea will work. You already know what you have by this point; you have only to perfect it.
I am recommend buying Building Great Sentences from The Teaching Company. It’s very affordable, very effective, and most of all, it’s an uncommon suggestion. Most of the resources that are recommended for writers are books by other writers, most often Stephen King’s On Writing. While those might be helpful, I doubt they can quite have as much benefit as an actual writing course, and here’s why; each writer has a unique approach and can only provide information that has been helpful to them. Ultimately, their advice may not be beneficial to every other writer and for those who need a very different process, reading On Writing may only serve to discourage them from writing at all. Furthermore, whatever insights can be gleaned with regard to style are going to be restricted to that author’s style alone and might close off the writer’s mind with the exclusions provided by that particular book, when those exclusions reflect mere preference and nothing more substantial. Albeit, these are not objections; they are cautionary notes for people who want to use such texts.
Building Great Sentences is a top-notch course given by Dr. Brooks Landon who is a professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He provides a great diversity of options that are open to the writer, and he illustrates many different methods which have been employed by the greatest writers of history. These lectures focus exclusively on sentences, which means he doesn’t discuss how to get yourself into the writing mindset, how to construct a unique plot, or how to build interest in a character. But what he does provide is a fascinating and thorough look at the incalculable variety of sentence structure that can be implemented to bring forth your unique ideas and to set them before a reader with individual, pristine clarity reflecting your imagination’s very creation.
An additional distinction between the approach of reading another author’s how-to book and watching or listening to a lecture is that you get an intonation, an emphatic reading of the sentences in question, that provides further insight into the material. One may develop a good reading habit (and despite what the speed-reading courses say, it is necessary to be able to hear dialogue as you read it), but Landon’s diligent study and engaging presentation is specifically designed to grab you and insist upon special focus where necessary.
But practice! Nothing can be more effective than practicing that which you want to be good at, which you want to do, you want to become. Authorship, as much as any other creative effort, requires an enormous amount of practical experience. There never was, nor will ever be, a brilliant author whose masterpieces required no revisions and no preceding attempts at literary creation. One must develop these skills.
Above all, don’t get discouraged. Even if you feel like you’re floundering, what you’re really doing is building a foundation from which you can become a better writer. It’s not the foundation of a building. This foundation is an exclusionary database. You’re discovering what works for you and what doesn’t. So long as you keep the keys tapping and stay positive when you go to edit, you’re on your way to better writing. Dive into the writing process and submerge yourself in it, until you begin to love every facet! At that point, you will no longer love the idea of being a writer because you will love being a writer. Good luck!