I love writing. I love music. So it only makes sense that I would use them to create an analogy.
When someone decides to learn an instrument, say piano, they don’t expect to be as good as this when they first sit down, right?
So why do we as writers sit down and expect to write like Tolkien on our third draft?
Be Content With Baby Steps
One of the first real songs you will play on an instrument is “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” It’s nothing fantastic, but when you manage to play a recognizable tune for the first time, you have a moment of triumph.
Writing is the same. You start with simple stories, clichés, and not much of a clue what you’re doing. Then you begin to progress, learning more and more about techniques and terms. You get better, but you still make mistakes.
It’s normal to take baby steps. It’s good! Don’t rush ahead of yourself and try to do things you aren’t ready to yet.
Practice Makes Better, Not Perfect
No matter how much you practice, you will never, ever be perfect. Even masters of music still make mistakes.
That’s what drafts are for! Everything you write, whether it ever sees the light of day or not, is making you a better writer. Every time you pick up your pen, you are practicing your art.
But practice isn’t practice unless it’s consistent.
Practice Must Be Consistent
Someone who wants to learn piano can’t practice only once or twice a month. Sure, they might learn some things, but they’ll have a hard time recalling the skills they learned three weeks ago the next time they go to practice.
While I don’t think you have to write every single day to be considered a writer, you do have to write consistently and frequently. Maybe it’s only once or twice a week. Or maybe you can only write on the weekends.
It doesn’t matter.
You simply have to write consistently.
Music and writing share a lot in common–they are both art forms, they express thoughts and emotions–but they also take time to master. No one becomes a pianist in a day, or even a year.
With dedicated practice, you will soon move on from the basics and begin composing your own symphonies.