Thursday, October 11, 2012

Writing Wisdom from 55 AD

If you wish to be a writer, write.

Wise words.

I saw this quote on an email today and it brought to mind a bit of advice I was given many years ago (no, we won't discuss how many). I've also given it to other would-be writers in workshops I've taught. But who the heck is Epictetus?

Epictetus was born about 55 AD in Hierapolis, Phrygia. Yeah, I know. That tells us nothing. We don't know what name his parents gave him because he assumed the name Epictetus. A pen name which means 'acquired'. Wouldn't you like to know the significance behind that name?

And that's beside the point, lol. His advice is priceless. If you want to be a writer, you must write. Every day. Even if it's just a little passage, half a page or so, you have to do it. You can take workshops and classes from now till the end of time on the craft of writing but if you don't actually put words together, it will mean nothing. The actual practice of crafting ideas into words is what's important.

It's that practice that hones your skill. You might look at the passage and hit the delete button or crumple it up to toss in the trash but the mere practice of putting those words together will cause the synapses in your brain to fire, creating memories of what does and doesn't work.

Someone once said that every writer has a million words of crap to write before they can write good material. I'm not sure I totally agree but I do know that to be a writer, you must write.

Epictetus had it right.

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