April 29, 2016

The Apprenticeship of Robert W. Jones by Bob Jones

The Apprenticeship of Robert W. Jones

Mordecai Richler authored “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,” – a classic about a poor Jewish boy raised in Montreal, Quebec. The novel was part of my high school education.

I never imagined that one day I would be composing something others would read about my own writing apprenticeship. 

Apprenticeship is how Jeff Goins in “The Art of the Work” suggests writers view their learning process.

I started writing for publication in 2013. Now I’m composing two blog posts a week, write for a local newspaper, a national magazine and on two sites for writers. My first book was published in 2015. 

I’m still at the early stage of my apprenticeship, but I’ve learned a lot.

My Turning Point

My writing process changed for the better when I learned to separate the writing function from the editing function.

When I began writing I edited on the fly.  I would get a couple of paragraphs down. Then I’d go back and change a word or a phrase or a whole sentence.

Then I would do it again.  And again.

I am a perfectionist.

Jeff Goins encouraged me to let my writing “flow.”  Get your words out – spelling mistakes, awkward wording, imperfections and all.

Now I write and then leave it alone. I come back to edit in an hour or a day.

That’s how I wrote this post. I started it on April 26th and now I’m editing it aboard Air Canada flight 176 to Montreal on April 28th.

As a new writer, I’m indebted to Jeff to have learned this lesson soon than later.

My Two Most Important Discoveries

First, I discovered that my content can always be bettered.

I return to posts I published twelve months previously.

Posts I edited.

Posts I liked.

A year later I immediately see ways that I can improve the post.

I know I’m getting better as a writer. It’s a slow, but gradual process.

I know I’ll become an even better writer.

At one time I felt intimidated by the realization that I could do better. I hesitated to share content that I knew could be improved. I delayed publishing posts until they were perfected.

Now I write, edit and share.

Second, I discovered that the visual aspect of a post is as important as the content.

I owe that discovery to Cindy Keating at Red Carpet Life.

Cindy’s writing content is engaging and makes me want to come back for more but it was the layout of her posts I realized helped me to engage.

I used to write long paragraphs, as in essay style. I didn’t use images to support my writing because I believed them to be a crutch. Good writing should stand on it’s own.

Red Carpet Life taught me the use of vibrant colors, rich images, single sentences rather than paragraphs and section headers for ease of scanning.

What I Would Do Differently

I would never have stopped publishing.

Twenty-five years ago I wrote with a purpose.

I submitted articles that were issue-oriented to national magazines and local newspapers. I thought they were important. Some were occasionally published – I’ve got a scrapbook of them.

I stopped publishing because I wasn’t getting enough affirmation.

No one, other than the editors, ever commented on my content.

After awhile, others pursuits that garnered better response rose to the top of my priority list and I stopped publishing and then writing altogether.

My regret, that I hope I can help you avoid, is imagining where I could be as a writer if I had continued my publishing and writing pursuits.

Twenty-five years is a lot of lost experience and practice.

You’re reading this because you are a writer.

If you keep writing someone will keep reading.

Who knows which reader may themselves be a writer needing to be heard.


  1. I've read that book by Mordecai Richler (and enjoyed it although it was a bit disconcerting). I also appreciated the advice you received from Jeff Goins. Thanks for persevering (and re-starting!)

    1. Thank you Tracy for the opportunity to share my journey. I hope it can help other writers.

  2. Thanks for the post-I appreciated the line, "If you keep writing someone will keep reading." I needed to hear that today .. also the tips on the shorter sentences.

    1. I am that someone for you. Just went to your site - "Thoughts From A-Broad." Interesting title - engaging content. I see you have written on grief. Good going.

  3. I enjoyed reading about your apprenticeship journey, Bob. I too have learned a lot from Jeff Goins and thanks for reminding us to push on and not quit.

  4. Beautifully and clearly written, Pastor Bob. Your post is easy to read and your words are well taken. Several of your points echo my own experience. We can never recover the lost years when we were busy with other tasks, but we can pour our souls into our writing now. And that appears to be exactly what you are doing. And doing well. Blessings in your life and in your ministry.


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