Writing is one of the hardest skills you could learn.
And that’s because:
1. It’s hard expressing how we really feel, especially when we’re revealing our most honest self to strangers.
2. It’s hard conveying complex thoughts into simple words.
Even experienced writers (like me) face these problems when we’re on our 2nd post, 5th post, or hell, our 100th post. And that’s okay if you are too.
Because what I realized was how often you write doesn’t determine how epic your pieces turn out. What does are habits — actions you train yourself to do everyday until it becomes second nature.
You see, when you put your full attention to practicing good writing habits, you write quicker. You build a voice you never heard before. You transform messy ideas into a beautiful piece of art. It takes some time, of course, to discipline your mind to build these habits.
But once you get the momentum going, that’s when your full potential for writing starts unfolding.
Here’s what you got to do.
1. Read for 30 minutes
It’s not much, but some of us still skip out on reading to write more.
It doesn’t do you any good if you keep tackling the same draft you’ve been stuck on for hours. What your mind needs is something fresh to stay pumped up. Something to distract it because it’s been worn out.
Read the latest posts from your favorite writer. Take a trip to the bookstore (library works too!). Browse through the most popular books on Amazon.
Good writers constantly immerse themselves in these appealing places to recharge their mind and come up with new, creative ideas.
As William Faulkner said, “Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.”
2. Think from the reader’s perspective
I remember this one snippet from “Stealing like an Artist” that totally lit up my mind — write the story you want to read.
It made me realize that writing doesn’t only revolve around you (even if it’s about the story of your life). It’s about your readers and how they’d feel when they read through your words.
Usually I ask myself these things when I write:
- Does this make sense?
- Can I explain this better?
- Will I be offending anyone if I said this?
- Am I writing the way I talk?
You want readers to walk through your post easily so they can grasp the underlying message you want to bring across. So no need for fancy words or extra fluff.
Just talk to your readers like you would with your friends. You’ll sound more authentic that way.
3. Spend as much time editing as writing
Good writers write all the time. They jot down whatever comes to mind. But the greater ones spend extra time polishing up their draft.
They fix grammatical errors. They rearrange their sentences. They cut the fluff (a must-do for all writers!).
Personally, I spend more time editing than writing. And that’s because I know my first draft is s***. I know there’s ways to make it better and sometimes, I will spend a couple more days until I feel my post is ready for the public.
Takeaway: Editing is an extra burden, but it makes a world’s difference to how powerful your words sound.
4. Push your limits
Some of us get too comfortable once we discover our writing groove. We spend x hours finishing a post. We repeat the same (successful) outline as our previous. We edit a few times and call it our best work.
The truth is, there’s no limit to how much better your writing can get. Think about it. You can always replicate the success of other people’s work. Or spend 15 minutes more to write everyday. You can even find tools to help you work smarter and write faster.
There’s nothing stopping you from being at your best. As long as you keep pushing yourself to learn and write more, eventually all your efforts will pay off.
Best of luck!