Many of you have heard me speak at writer’s groups about a thing I am calling intentional writing. None of the concepts are new, I’m just pulling them together to try to define something without offending anyone. Because there clearly are at least two classes of writers, and the difference is difficult to define without using generalizations. So for the sake of argument, I will define it as unintentional or not-yet-intentional writers, and intentional writers. So what is an intentional writer?
Intentional Writers Write Every Day. Not only do intentional writers write daily, but they write with specific goals in mind, whether word count, reworking a scene, or editing a portion of a competed work. The idea is not just to write for the sake of getting words down every day, but to write with purpose.
Intentional Writers are Held Accountable. What is accountability? It is having someone or a group that not only asks about what you are writing daily, but holds you to goals you have stated or set. Not just asking “How is the work going?” but more specifically asking “Did you make ‘x’ word count today?” If you do not meet goals, accountability partners reserve the right to hold you to your word. The more public you make your goals, the more likely you are to stick to them.
Intentional Writers Welcome Meaningful Critique. There are hundreds of writers groups around the country and the world, virtual and in person, which pretend to offer critique. Too often, they only offer meaningless validation that your work is ‘good.’ An intentional writer understands that harsh critique now saves poor reviews later. If I don’t tell you about your plot issues, the next person to do so will be a reader, or worse a reviewer. Readers (customers) expect you to put your best forward. Once they have paid for your work, their complaints become bad advertising for your book and the rest of your work. An honest, meaningful critique partner makes a true difference in your end product
Finally, Intentional Writers seek to improve their craft through both Education and Experience. There are literally hundreds of books on writing, and while some are better than others, it never hurts to look at someone else’s viewpoint. There are classes, whether community, college, or on-line that talk about specific parts of the writing craft. Writer’s conferences are often a good place to get bite-sized instruction. Wherever they can, intentional writers seek and value education.
And the experience comes from all of the above. When you write daily and hare held accountable to goals, when you welcome meaningful critique and allow yourself to be taught, you gain experience. Remember too that you practice your craft for a game, and the game is publishing. Don’t just write every day and keep filing away those stories and novels. Putting them out there and letting them be read is the game. It’s why we write.
From today forward, resolve to join the community of intentional writers. Your writing will be better for it.