I once thought legal writing and fiction writing were complete opposites and totally incompatible. Creativity distracts from the point the lawyer is trying to make (usually), while structure and repetition limits the novelist’s imagination (again, usually). One could be a lawyer and write legal documents. Or one could be a novelist and write stories. But the same mind could not do both.
Now that I am doing both kinds of writing, I have realized how very wrong I was. As I sink deeper into both forms of writing, I’ve learned a couple things so far:
- writing takes practice to get better at it (no matter what kind of writing it is)
2. trying different kinds of writing actually strengthens other areas of writing.
All Writing Takes Practice
I am a lawyer. That is my profession. I wasn’t born a lawyer and I didn’t suddenly just become a lawyer one day. I had to work at it. Hard. For three years I studied the law and learned how to read, think, speak, and write like a lawyer.
My first day of law school was not an enjoyable experience. I didn’t know how to best approach the massive amounts of reading material. I didn’t know how to organize my notes into something cohesive and sensible. I didn’t know how to answer a question or even ask a question properly. The writing aspect was what shocked me the most. I needed to learn how to write like a lawyer and I didn’t understand why I wasn’t naturally just good at it.
That didn’t change overnight.
It didn’t even change over the next few weeks. But I kept at it. I practiced and I practiced, and I listened to what the professors said about re-learning how to think and training your brain to think “like a lawyer”.
After all, they said, your brain is a muscle just like any other in your body. And you have to train it to perform a certain way. The more you practice, the more repetition your brain gets, and the easier that thing becomes.
Fiction and Legal Writing are like a Hamstring and a Bicep…