Practice Makes…What, Exactly?

Most things in life, the more you do it, the better you get.

Apparently, that’s not true of writing.

You know the saying practice makes perfect. While I don’t quite think that’s true–because in many ways, perfection doesn’t exist–practice can make you better. Practice can make whatever you’re doing at least seem easier. Whether you’re a painter or an athlete or a public speaker, repetition begets confidence and success.

But writing…it almost feels like the opposite is true. Six novels in, it seems like writing has gotten harder. The more I write, the harder time I have starting projects, maintaining momentum, and ultimately, finishing stories.

When I started on this indie author journey, when I had just published Bounty and was working on Blood Ties and Notna, it wasn’t nearly this difficult. Words came much easier. When I wanted to sit down and write I actually could; the proverbial muse wasn’t so fleeting. The blinking cursor wasn’t nearly the taunting bastard it is these days.

But why is that? Why does writing seemingly not follow the same practice-improve-practice more-keep getting better pattern as practically every other activity in the world?

I think, in this case, I’m my own worst enemy.

Creatives as a whole are often our own worst enemies. We’re harshest against our own work, and we often don’t see the qualities that our fans often point out to us. Specific to me, I think my own library holds me back. By which I mean: every time I sit down to write a book, I feel like I have to live up to what I’ve done before.

The next book has to be at least as good as the last one. If it’s my series, it has to be better.

I can’t get worse. I have to get better. That self-induced pressure–coming from someone who’s already a bit of a perfectionist–can be downright maddening.

I know I’m a capable author. I have the backlog to prove it. I can glance at the middle of three bookshelves to the right of my bed, see the spines of my already-published works, and know without a doubt that I can do this. I’ve done it before. People have bought by books. And enjoyed my books. And told me they enjoyed my books.

One doesn’t just wake up one day and forget how to write. Right?

One other reason is…sometimes, I look at my sales chart, notice how many sales aren’t there, and wonder to myself–however briefly–what’s the point? Why go through all this effort to write and edit and market a new book when no one’s grabbing the ones already available?

Maybe the lesson there is to stop looking at my sales chart. Maybe the lesson is the next book is the best marketing tool for your last book (I’ve made that argument before, and several others have, as well). Maybe the lesson is, since I’m not a great book marketer, I’m better off focusing on the one part I am good at:

Actually writing the book.

Now, to get that voice of doubt to shut his yap for five seconds…

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

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One thought on “Practice Makes…What, Exactly?

  1. Pingback: April 2022: Month in Review | J.D. Cunegan

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