What I’ve Learned from Writing for The Write Practice

by Melissa Tydell | 38 comments

Free Book Planning Course! Sign up for our 3-part book planning course and make your book writing easy. It expires soon, though, so don’t wait. Sign up here before the deadline!

After about a year of contributing to The Write Practice, today’s post is my last one.

With a new baby due to arrive in the next couple of weeks, I’m wrapping up my time as a regular contributor—and as with any turning point, it feels like a good time to reflect on what I’ve learned.

coffee shop writing

Photo by Basheer Tome

Lesson Plan

Writing supplies a constant challenge, a never-ending opportunity for growth.

Can we ever truly master the craft of writing? And is it necessary to do so? I think what’s so appealing about writing is that it allows us an opportunity to constantly learn and improve. With all the forms of writing, all the subjects, all the techniques available to us, we have so many ways to play and grow in our writing. This site provides a place to do just that—to practice on a regular basis. We may take baby steps one day and giant leaps at another time, but little by little, we become stronger writers.

Writing in community makes us better.

Even though each of us has a different level of experience and a unique point of view, we can learn from one other. Because of The Write Practice's team of contributors, as well as this generous community of writer-readers and the daily collection of comments, new ideas are never in short supply. We all have something to share—knowledge, feedback, questions. And when we share our work, we not only open ourselves to constructive feedback, but we also inspire others with our creativity.

Sometimes you can’t wait for inspiration to strike.

It’s a rare time when everything falls into place and you have the perfect amount of time, space, and inspiration to write—when the words flow and come out just right, communicating exactly what you want to express. It’s absolutely rare. But writing with a deadline in mind, writing on a consistent basis, requires us to do the work even when we aren’t sure where our writing will go. We start somewhere, keep going, and see what happens. The result may not be perfect (after all, is perfection possible?), but put in the effort and you may be surprised by what you’re able to produce.

Many thanks to all of you for challenging me to keep growing; for sharing your ideas and feedback; and for committing to this crazy-wonderful craft, this communal love of ours—writing.

What have you learned from The Write Practice?


Write for fifteen minutes: write a scene in which you or a character learns a lesson or tries something new.

When you’re finished, please share your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please respond to some of the other comments too!

Free Book Planning Course! Sign up for our 3-part book planning course and make your book writing easy. It expires soon, though, so don’t wait. Sign up here before the deadline!

Melissa Tydell is a freelance writer, content consultant, and blogger who enjoys sharing her love of the written word with others. You can connect with Melissa through her website, blog, or Twitter.


  1. Katie Hamer

    Good luck with the baby, Melissa. Here is my post on trying something new.

    I hold one soft leather bean bag in the palm of my hand, then squeeze it, feeling the resistance of a thousand tiny beads. The sun in my eyes, I pick up a second, from the wet grass at my feet. I’m comfortable with this number of bags, swapping them mid air from one hand to the other. My mentor shouts “that’s not juggling!” and throws a third bean bag at me. I plops against my right arm, and I bend to pick it up. Two in one hand, one in the other, I nervously commence my task. Trying to keep all three in constant motion, I soon feel giddy. I’m flooded with a feeling of failure as I keep dropping them.

    My life often feels like a juggling act. Just I’ve got used to a certain number of balls I have to catch another mid air. More activity to complete but no more time to do it in. Mind you, I’m not alone in this. These days everyone is feeling the squeeze. Maybe it’s the time and motion man who’s responsible for this state of affairs by constantly instructing us on how long certain activities should take. Writing provides me with a platform to stand back and take note and reflect. As Ferris Bueller once said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

    • Claire

      That was so beautiful! The metaphor was solid and not overdone. The idea of life throwing you more things to balence in the same 24 hours is very relatable. One note: at the end of the first paragraph, you said you were feeling giddy as you juggled, which instilled the imagery of you happy and successfully juggling three balls, but the next statement about failing seemed to contradict that.
      Nice work!

    • Katie Hamer

      Thanks, Claire, for such positive constructive feedback. I see what you mean about giddy. That’s the great thing about a forum like this; you get to see your writing through new pairs of eyes, and thus a fresh perspective!

    • John Fisher

      I like how this is all written in present tense: “I hold . . . [I] squeeze it . . . I pick up a second . . .” etc. And the parallel you draw to life as many times a juggling act is very apt in “these days [when] everyone is feeling the squeeze”. I was curious about the “time and motion man” and wondered if he’s a person or an allegory. Great insights into life drawn from a learning experience of trying something new!

    • Katie Hamer

      John, thanks for your feedback. I don’t have a concrete idea of who the time and motion man is at present. However, I’m thinking I might now develop him as a character and place him in the kind of story line where he can ruffle some feathers. Essentially, though, he’s the guy who works out how long your work should take, and then tells you that you can work even quicker than that! Officious characters are always good at creating conflict!

    • John Fisher

      Great ideas! Officious, good word.

    • Joy Collado

      I was also thinking about the “time and motion man”. But now I see clearly. Nice one!

  2. Guest

    Maybe I should give this a try. Here’s my post.

    I held his tiny
    body and carefully laid him on his tub. My hands are shaky but I try not
    to show it. I think of the things that should be done first – test the
    water temperature, make sure his shampoo is close at hand, and his towel
    should be ready. This should be easy but with two other people watching
    my every move makes me feel more of an amateur.

    Well I am an
    amateur. What do I know about bathing a baby. But they said I should
    try. I was expecting some kind words from my audience but what I got
    were 2 critics ready to devour me for every wrong move I make.

    finish my nephews bathe and laid him comfortably on his towel. I
    breathe, thank goodness he’s not broken! He looks at me and gives me
    that sweet smile that melted my heart. Maybe I should do this more

    • Katie Hamer

      Loved this! You describe feeling nervous and anxious about being observed so well. The only thing that confused me was the bit about the audience, because I found myself visualising a TV studio! I fully understood by the end, though. Good job! Keep posting!

    • Joy Collado

      Thanks Katie! This is actually my first time to post here at the community and I’m learning from all these comments.

    • John Fisher

      I like the immediacy with which you write of this experience, it is very much in-the-moment. Keep up the good work!

    • Joy Collado

      Thanks John!

    • NewbieWriter

      I liked this story. Stories about unsure people engaging in routine acts are so tangible and real. A couple quick comments:

      1. The piece switches back and forth between past and present tense. Is this intentional?

      2. Conflict and tension get readers into a story. We like to read about a person working towards some goal with impediments in the way. With that said, it feels like there’s something missing before the last paragraph. You said the character expected kind words (which is great – you set the expectation) but ended up with 2 critics ready to devour him/her. How did they do this? I want to know what happened during the bath – how the parents ‘devoured’ the character and how the character handled it – but you skipped past that conflict and went to laying the baby on the towel. Does this make sense?

    • Joy Collado

      Thanks for your comments!

      For the first part, no it wasn’t intentional. I was actually trying to figure out how will I state my story if it’s on a past or present tense. So that was the result. Do you think it was better if I told the story in the present tense?

      For the second part. I missed that whole point. I think you’re right, it could have been more interesting if I wrote those details. when I skipped on those details I left a hole and missed the whole point. Hmmm..love it, thanks!

    • Jay Warner

      for me, I felt the attitude of the parents was perceived by the narrator and this made it interesting. The parents were probably not as critical as the narrator feared. The line about the critics ready to devour seemed more of an exaggeration of the fear of being judged and thus I found it appropriate and real. How many times do we attempt something new and feel intimidated by the “experts” watching even though they may not be judging at all? I thought your piece was very realistic and had the right amount of tension for a routine but daunting task for someone new to it. Good work.

    • Joy Collado

      Thanks Jay!

    • NewbieWriter

      I don’t think you missed the whole point at all. I agree with Jay in that it was realistic. And the topic resonated. I just craved some more in that one area. It’s just my opinion so take it for what it’s worth. Either way, it means I was engaged in the scene so that’s good.

      Regarding the tense, I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong answer. Pick what feels best to you. At the end, if you don’t like it, you can always change 🙂

    • Joy Collado

      thanks for the wonderful input. ^_^

    • Jay Warner

      I can feel the narrator’s timidness at trying something new and fearing criticism, but then the spirits soar when the bath is complete and the baby smiles. A nice little vignette!

  3. themagicviolinist

    I’ve learned the importance of sharing. I’ve never been that shy or that closed off when it came to sharing my writing, but I realized that I could really share MORE than what I was already putting out there. If you keep everything to yourself, you’re limited to just what YOU know. But by sharing your work, it gives you the chance to learn from your peers and from your mentors.

    Good luck with the baby and I hope you continue to find many writing opportunities. 🙂

  4. Pilar Arsenec

    All the best to you, Melissa. Thank you for all your contributions too.

  5. Karl Tobar

    Good luck with the baby! We’ll miss you!

  6. Von Rupert

    Enjoy the baby and motherhood. Thanks for all your posts this year. It makes me a little teary eyed to see you leaving, but, oh my, your next adventure will be AMAZING.

  7. John Fisher

    Melissa, I’ve enjoyed your presence and your posts and your comments on The Write Practice, and I wish you the best of luck!


    Go check it out, my friend said. You do need community, you’re right about that.

    The social worker in charge of the Seniors program at the local community center is friendly, soft-spoken, educated. Hey, this may be ok after all. I fill out all the paperwork and commit to helping with the chores every day in exchange for being admitted, my fifty-nine years being one year below the normal minimum age.

    Then other clients begin arriving, and my anxiety level goes up accordingly. The Hispanic guy, recent stroke victim, leans on a cane and regales the lady-in-charge with affirmations of his faith in God and having “seen the other side” when doctors considered him clinically dead. I sigh and turn away. But I meet him later, and he’s friendly.

    I have trouble suppressing the thought: “Damn, these people’re OLD!”

    There are the suspicious stares at the length of my hair. Some snippy little comments. As the lunch hour approaches, the lady in charge takes to the microphone. ” . . . now I know we’re all prayer warriors in here; Lucy Stems is in the hospital again . . . ” Hey! Is this legal?? This is city prop —

    Just be myself. And save the arguments for another setting. I make myself relax in my chair, head unbowed, eyes open, instead of head-bowed-and-eyes-closed as a good boy would.

    I see Clara, to whom I used to deliver lunch on my Meals-on-Wheels route. She has saved me a seat beside her. She is pale and thinner now, and walks with a cane herself. She knew me from church, Before. She assumes I’m as I was then. She makes statements about God. I smile at her. She shows genuine affection, at one point covers my hand with hers. The first touch I’ve known in some time.

    There’s something going on here, and it’s somehow beyond what I know or think I know, or what I believe in good conscience even. The only way I know how to put it is, we really are all in this thing together.

    • Katie Hamer

      The first thing that struck me about your writing, is how strong the characterisation is. These are characters I can really believe in and care about. The narrator’s resentment at becoming institutionalised, at too young an age, is also very real. I would love to know where you are going with the final paragraph though. It just seems a bit vague…

    • John Fisher

      Katie, Thank you very much for your kind comment on the characterization. That’s good to hear! These are people taken just as they are from real-life experience.

      I didn’t think the direction of the last paragraph through as I wrote it, but I can definitely say it’s about the abiding belief in transcendent Love, which goes so easily beyond all of our self-imposed alienation from others, in the form of beliefs, politics, and all of our disagreements and fights and hurts and disappointments. A stubborn belief that sometimes is all that gets one through difficult and angry times.

    • Jay Warner

      nice job. we can all learn something from our elders.

    • John Fisher

      Thank you, Jay!

  8. Irfan

    On sidewalk joining the street, this street where everything passed; cars, motorcycles, trucks, men, cows, wind and time; I stood alone, leaning my back to a fence of some rundown antique shop. Wind was whistling a sweet sound as the sun directed a beam of warm light upon my skin; and upon everything else.

    There, on the other side of the street. A granny selling Jamu was resting, with wrinkly face and dusty clothes, with calm gestures she rested. Jamu is a traditional herbal beverages. Saffron, ginger, jasmine, tamarind, papaya leaf, can make a good Jamu. From the sweetest of saffron, to the most bitter of brutawali, lies the various tastes and the healthy benefits. Though modern medicines are widely spreading, and will probably kill the attraction of Jamu, many people still believe in the power of Jamu; many still make and sell them.

    Through the eyes of that old woman, I saw a future where soon people will come back to Jamu, people will come back to the healthy habit of drinking herbal beverages, people will grow herbal plants in their garden and people will be able to make Jamu by themselves. And people will be healthy once again as was our ancestor, without chemicals goods, without processed foods.


    • Irfan

      Here’s my attempt. Enjoy! 🙂

    • Jay Warner

      I like your description of granny with wrinkly face and dusty clothes. I also like the smells and sights that you invoke – the saffron, ginger, jasmine, tamarind, papaya leaf. If I close my eyes I can see them and almost taste them. Thank you for sharing.

    • Joy Collado

      I love the way you describe everything, the street, the wind, the sun. I also like how you described Jamu, it’s like I can taste and smell it.

  9. Bob DeSpy former Spycacher

    Congrats! I wish you all the best.

  10. Melissa

    Thank you for all the well wishes, everyone! I’ve so enjoyed sharing my love of writing with you — and thank you for sharing your work with me too.

  11. sistaB

    I’m an English teacher who has always wanted to be an author. I haven’t had anything published, not even a short story, as I keep wondering why would anyone want to read what I’ve written. I have a coming-of-age story that’s based on my experiences in my tenth year. It was a year like no other when changes, both internal and external, were my constant companions. I just need confidence so that I can finally achieve this dream.

    • Joe Bunting

      There’s no question that you can do it. You can absolutely do it. The question is (and it’s a question I ask myself all the time) will you persevere when it’s hard? Because it will definitely be hard. :/ Fortunately, you can find a community of other writers who want to help you here.

    • sistaB

      Thank you. I already have the plot as it’s non-fiction so I just need to decide how best to tell it. It will be set in the Caribbean island of Jamaica during the brutal 1980 General Election when I was only 10 yrs old. I was forced to grow up fast that year as there was violence all around and I was experiencing the onset of puberty. Needless to say, it was a year when I had to struggle to cope with all the changes while I tried to hold onto a childhood that was receding although I wanted it to stay longer with me.

  12. Minecraft

    How good this article is! I like it. I will share with my
    friends. I hope that many people also have hobby the same as me.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Say Yes to Practice

Join over 450,000 readers who are saying YES to practice. You’ll also get a free copy of our eBook 14 Prompts:

Popular Resources

Books By Our Writers

Share to...