Friday, April 29, 2005

Value of Repetition

Last night I was instant messaging with a friend.  There were long pauses between my communication and his responses. I could see that he was typing but it seemed to take forever.  I had to get off line and finally he asked if he could phone me tomorrow and talk about it.  We’ll probably connect today.  Funny thing is I never have this difficulty with my 16–year-old son. He’s an expert typist and I’m certain it’s a skill that he uses repeatedly.

One summer long ago, I was about my son’s age when I took typing in summer school.  It was in the pre-computer days and we learned on electric typewriters. If you hesitated or pushed the wrong keys, the mistakes were instanteanous. Yet these typewriters also had an amazing button to erase the mistakes. After using the old manual typewriters, that correction key was remarkable.  Typing wasn’t my best class in high school. Maybe it was because of summer and school wasn’t high on my priority list but I believe I earned a solid C in that class.

You’d never know it today. If you’ve ever seen me type, it’s pretty quick.  When I work in an office, I get a steady stream of comments about my speed and the clicking on the keys. I’m a hard typist because for many years I used manual typewriters to write stories. Why the speed? Because I’ve done it repeatedly—every day for years. In the early days of my journalism training, we learned to compose at the typewriter. We created sentences in our minds, then put them instantly into the typewriter. It’s the perfect skill for any journalist since there is no time in the newspaper world to rewrite or stew about the syntax of the sentence. You need to spread your notes around you on the desk and spit out the story.  It’s another skill which has served me well over the years.

I don’t know what you are facing today. You may be wondering if you will ever get a magazine article published. You may be struggling to find any children’s book editor to give your work some attention. Or possibly your nonfiction book proposal is getting lots of rejection. Maybe your novel is languishing on some editor’s desk (or worse it’s stuck in your file drawer and has never been sent out—yet). I want to encourage you about the value of repetition.  Select something—then do it repeatedly. If it’s children’s books, then write lots of them. Read lots of them and send them into the market. Try the children’s magazine market and also the children’s book market. Join organizations like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and learn about the current editorial needs and trends in the market. Then get your material out there—over and over—with excellence.

My skill set and learning in this market continues to grow daily. I understand the value of repetition—constantly throwing out new ideas and different types of writing. Then I write over and over. It’s not rocket science. You can do it too.


1 Comment:

At 6:00 AM, Blogger Brandy Brow Left a note...

Yup. I needed to hear this today. I've been spread a little thin and need to refocus on the types of writing God has called me to. Thanks Terry for yet another timely message.


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