The Writer's Daily Practice
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The Writer's Daily Practice

A Guide to Becoming a Lifelong Storyteller

Danielle Kiowski, Leslie Watts

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eBook - ePub

The Writer's Daily Practice

A Guide to Becoming a Lifelong Storyteller

Danielle Kiowski, Leslie Watts

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To write a story that captivates readers and stands the test of time, you need a daily practice and professional tools. In this guide, fantasy author and editor Danielle Kiowski rolls out an elegant blueprint for building your practice using Story Grid tools.

Like all writers, you struggle to defeat Resistance and devote proper time and attention to craft. You want to get words on the page, and above all, you want your stories to work. Kiowski demonstrates how the Story Grid Rule of 530 can help you establish simple, transformative habits to reach those goals.

What's the Rule of 530? Write 500 words a day and study masterworks of story craft for 30 minutes per day.

A daily writing and story analysis practice will level up your skills by blending four types of knowledge to help you understand what makes a story great and how to infuse that knowledge into your own stories. You'll learn concepts based on Story Grid's methodology, put those concepts into practice, test your understanding, and finally-through group study-you'll develop new, shared insights.

Beautiful stories don't happen overnight.

Focus on the process. Use the Rule of 530. And find joy in becoming a lifelong storyteller.

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Business Writing


The Story Grid Rule of 530 is a daily practice, meaning you should do your writing and analysis every single day. Sometimes, writers wait to write until they feel inspired by an idea. Let’s explore why it’s important to write every day—whether or not inspiration strikes.


Consistency in your writing practice makes you a writer. The act of showing up transforms you from someone who wants to be a writer into someone who is one, right now. As Steven Pressfield writes in Turning Pro, “The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits. An amateur has amateur habits. A professional has professional habits.”1 The key point is that a professional is made so by the process, not by the outcome. It doesn’t matter how many books you publish or what prizes you win. It matters that you show up. It matters that you dedicate yourself to your craft. This creates your identity as a writer.
Showing up consistently also gives you the best chance of long-term success. When we set out to do creative things, we encounter Resistance. It’s inevitable and even welcome because it means we’re on the right path. Since we know Resistance will try and stop us, we can make the first move to prepare for its arrival. Before it shows up, while you are excited and hopeful at the start of your practice, build processes that help you to fight Resistance and stay on track. In this Story Grid Beat, we’ll look at some tactics to do that—but committing to show up every day is the very first thing you can do to arm yourself for the fight.
It’s not enough to wait for motivation to strike you, because that motivation will eventually leave. It will keep you writing for a while, but when you hit a rough patch in the project, Resistance will show up and keep motivation at bay. You’ll wait for it to come back while your project sits untouched. If you want to be a writer, you have to put in the work regardless of how you feel. If you show up, day after day, motivation will get the hint and come to you.
Now that we’ve looked at why daily practice is important, let’s identify the qualities that make a daily practice successful.


If you’re reading this book, it’s likely you are familiar with the Story Grid methodology and the principles of story outlined in the Story Grid resources. You may have no trouble at all reciting the Five Commandments of Storytelling or explaining how they apply in different units of story. But executing the principles is something else entirely. Even though you use the same knowledge when you apply Story Grid principles in your writing, you use different cognitive pathways when you try to access knowledge for usage instead of recall. A successful daily practice will help you build the pathways to bridge the gap between principle and practice. It will create a robust understanding of Story.
Theoretical study is an important component of learning, but by itself it is not enough to gain true mastery of a subject. Under the “Four-E” model of cognition, four flavors of knowledge contribute to comprehensive understanding. These types of knowledge work together to create true mastery of a concept—in our case, storytelling.
Propositional knowledge is theoretical knowledge. If you have this flavor of knowledge, you understand facts and concepts. You can explain the Story Grid methodology and principles.
Procedural knowledge is the ability to put knowledge into practice.
Perspectival knowledge comes from testing concepts in different environments and contexts. By observing how these concepts work in distinct circumstances, you test the initial proposition and develop a nuanced understanding of how it works in practice.
Participatory knowledge arises when a group of people come together to study and discuss the same concepts. Through conversation in which each participant contributes insights from his or her unique perspective, the group can develop shared knowledge that no one could access alone.
A successful daily practice will develop all four flavors of knowledge to give you a comprehensive understanding of Story and the ability to apply your knowledge in any context.

As we explore the components that make up the Story Grid Rule of 530, you’ll see how creating space for this habit in your life will build on your study of storytelling principles. It will round out your knowledge of storytelling by adding procedural, perspectival, and participatory knowledge to the propositional knowledge you get from Story Grid resources. With this comprehensive understanding of Story, you’ll be equipped to tell the stories you want to tell.
1 Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro (Egremont, MA: Black Irish Entertainment, 2012), 20.

THE 500

In the first part of your daily practice, you’ll write five hundred words of prose. If you want to be a writer, it’s critical that you get words on the page, whether physical or digital. That’s the only way to tell the stories you want to create. It’s the only way to get your work into the world.
That’s why the first pillar of the Story Grid Rule of 530 centers on word count.


Framing this recommendation as a word count goal is no accident. In your writing sessions, you’ll be getting a draft done. It might be messy and imperfect. That’s okay. The important thing is to write.
By focusing on your word count instead of setting a time limit, you’ll produce more work. If you understand that your output doesn’t have to be perfect, you can silence the inner critic that stops your words before they hit the page.
Perfectionism doesn’t help you in the writing process. It can work against you by limiting your output and stifling your creativity. In the long run, focusing on producing more will help you to produce better quality stories. How do we know? In the book Art and Fear, authors David Bayles and Ted Orland relate the story of Jerry Uelsmann, a professor of photography at the University of Florida. (In the book, the authors altered the details to make it a ceramics class, but the principles remain the same.) The professor split his class into two groups. Students in the first group were told they would be graded on the quality of their best photo while students in the second group would be graded on the number of photos they took. By the end of the class, the best photos submitted by the group aiming for quantity were better than the photos taken with the object of producing a perfect image.
Your writing is like those students’ photos. If you get caught up in producing a perfect draft, you’ll miss oppo...