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More Than One Way to Write a Story
Just as there is more than one way to bowl a strike, there is more than one way to write a story. In fact, we ought to seek to write our stories in a unique way.
As I was considering the adjustment bowlers need to make to the lane's changing oil patterns, I realized that writers also need to adjust to the current trends and patterns within our chosen genres. If the writer before us writes a novel about magicians, we better come up with a new spellbinding story. That path has been taken, the pattern has shifted, and we must adjust or we will lose our grip and find ourselves going in the opposite direction of our intended target. Our trajectory may follow the original idea or theme, but it must be our own form, rhythm, and speed that makes it to our mark.
As bowlers strive for the consistent strike after strike by hitting the bowling headpin, writers also strive for the consistent strike after strike by touching the reader's heartstrings (and sometimes hitting our readers over the head whether intentionally or not). We desire in either to pursuit to make an impression, to grab the attention of those around us, to captivate them if only for the time it takes to make our point (or points), and to capture perfection in the final frame (or scene).
But, the way to make that happen is consistency.
A bowler must bowl. A writer must write.
Some bowlers make it to the lanes every day. Some writers make to their desks every day.
But, what if some days bowlers don't bowl, and writers don't write? What if we simply don't make it to the place we need to be for that patient practice to happen?
When that happens, is all lost?
I mentioned several books in my post last week about how to be a writer. I described the variety I observed as I watched five bowlers on Monday. Remember the left-handed bowler who got six strikes in a row? He told me that he may have over-practiced. He bowled two days in a row for 90 minutes each time. The next day his wrist ached, and his fingers were swollen. He wisely took a break the next day. Writers need to realize that they, too, need a break after successive days of writing. That doesn't mean bowlers and writers aren't being consistent when they take a much-needed respite. It means they are more refreshed for the next time. It means that consistent breaks are part of the pattern.
I hope this post encourages my fellow writers. But, I hope it encourages me because I have struggled this week to have a consistent writing time. Being a writers doesn't only require patient practice. It requires being patient with ourselves. We need to adjust our own patterns. Maybe it isn't a day to write. Maybe it is a day to consider our stories from a different point of view. Maybe that's when all the pins line up.