Imagine, if you will, a group of kids who want to learn to play baseball. The coach spends an hour with them, three times a week, and they talk about baseball. They learn its history and read about star players; they watch films of outstanding plays; they have discussions about what makes certain players great. And then they go out to play a game. How well will they play?Baig's example is meant to show that writers talk about writing a lot. However, talking about writing does not develop the tools and skills to make better writing (discussing ideas and plots and characters can be invigorating, certainly, but that is not what Baig is talking about). Talking about writing only gets us so far. Practice makes us better writers. Baig says,
And the truth is that real writers do practice: They keep notebooks and sketchbooks, just like visual artists. They write lots of pieces that they never publish, to try out ideas and techniques, to develop their skills.She talks about how practice is not a "mindless drill," but an opportunity to shut off your inner critic and learn more about writing. This practice develops style, voice, and language.
In the following chapter, Baig explains a writing exercise:
Begin with freewriting, as in the exercise from Chapter 2. Get your pen moving across the page, or your fingers across the keyboard, without stopping. Remember to relax; there's no rush.
Once you feel comfortable, see if you can shift your mental focus: Turn your attention away from what you are saying to the words you are using. At first you may find this difficult; that's fine. Just keep trying to bring your mind back to words. You may find that your writing stops making sense; that's fine, too. (If a great idea occurs to you while you work, however, by all means write it down!) You may find that you stop writing sentences altogether and move instead into listing words.Fantastic exercise! I've done this a few times to "play" with words and language. Give this a try!