If you want to play a sport, you have to learn how. You need to learn not just the rules but the technique. If you golf, you have to learn how to hold your head, your shoulders, your knees, the club. The grip you use is important. The club you use is also important. You don’t use a wedge to putt (I’m assuming, and also referencing the few golf movies I’ve seen… which, in retrospect, are Tin Cup and Happy Gilmore).
If you play football, you practice throwing, catching, running… uh… plays? Or whatever? Smacking into things as fast as you can… I don’t really watch football.
If you… You get the idea.
You need to practice your technique with the tools to do the job.
As a writer, you’re in a unique position. The best way to learn how to write is to just sit down and write. That’s not only the best way, it’s the only way. This is a terrible way to become a surgeon. It’s an excellent way to become a writer.
But you need to practice the techniques. Sentence construction. Description. Character development. In order to learn these things, you need to read a ton of words, and write a ton of words. You can learn the theory in school or from a book, but the very best way is to study good books. Bad books. All books. And then you need to sit down and do it. And you have to know it’s going to be terrible when you do. That’s essential to being a writer: knowing you suck.
Because the longer you play golf, or football, or write, the better you’ll get at it. You have to put in the hours. The ass goes in the chair, the hands go on the keys (or pen, or crayon, or blood-soaked bones of your mortal enemies, or whatever. Chalk. Use chalk. Or maybe a chisel and stone. But put the words down.
You have to practice. You have to exercise those muscles writers use, just like any other athlete.
The words, man. You have to put the words down. Over and over. Practice.