Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Yoga of Writing

One of the aspects of practicing yoga that makes it ever fresh—at least for me—is the knowledge that no matter how many times I do a routine I’m still improving, every day, a little bit at a time. As long as I keep pushing that edge and keep my awareness on what I’m doing, my poses keep improving. Writing should be exactly the same way.

Unfortunately, it often isn’t. We all know writers who hit it huge and then slide into a well-worn, easy trough in which they basically keep repeating themselves until they either die or retire. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to hurt their sales. Once they become a “name,” the sales are essentially assured.

In my experience, there are two basic types of writers—those who think they’re great writers, and those who think they’re not, and they usually hold to these opinions whether they achieve success in the marketplace or not. Those who think they’re great writers are so convinced of their own greatness that they admit to no need of improvement. After all, they’re already great, right? And then there are the writers who are constantly pushing the edge of their ability, who scrutinize their works for ways to make them better, who try new ways of telling a story or developing a character. And they keep trying to improve, no matter how financially successful they may become. It’s an attitude that keeps their writing ever fresh and surely, for them, helps keep it fun.

So here’s to pushing the edge.


Steve Malley said...

I loved that post. As a longtime Yoga-fellah myself, I could totally relate.

Hard to imagine someone so full of themselves that they're 'good enough' at Yoga not to try harder. Then again, after close to twenty years of trying, and I still can't make my heels touch the ground in downward dog!

One thing I've found about getting better at most anything (but we'll stik with Yoga) is that learning plateaus. There are periods where you keep getting better and better, and it's like you're seeing progress all the time. And then you hit a flat patch. No matter how hard you try, no progress. Some people give up then, think they're as good as they'll ever get. But if you keep doing the work, one day the plateau ends. Suddenly, progress all over again! (except I *still* can't touch my heels!)

When authors I like seem to keep putting out the 'same old', I try to tell myself it's just a plateau. Of course, some have died without ever breaking it...

cs harris said...

I can't get my heels on the ground in downward dog either! I keep hoping maybe someday...

Never thought about writers hitting a plateau, as well. But it make sense.

Charles Gramlich said...

I think Steve's right about those "plateaus." I've noticed it in myself. In fact, I found early on that I would hit a plateau and then even slide back a bit. Or so it seemed.

Sometimes, too, I think it doesn't hurt the famous writer's sales to keep on writing the same thing because many fans are happy to see the same thing over just dressed up in a bit different outfit.

Good post. Made me do some thinking.

Jaime said...
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