For 2 decades I dreaded the act of writing and found it a chore. In elementary school, I even reached a point where my hatred of writing was so strong it destroyed one of my passions.
After a rule was instituted requiring a one paragraph summary for every book read, I all but stopped reading.
After so long, something changed in 2020. I can’t point to a single event, like many changes in life it happened so gradually I hardly noticed. The script in my head flipped, and now writing isn’t so bad. It’s even a bit, dare I say, fulfilling? Writing forces me to take the thoughts swirling in my head and condense them to a coherent idea.
Now it’s become a skill in my toolbox, I want to get good at it. Not necessarily J.K. Rowling level with long fancy novels, but I want to be competent enough to share what I learn in an approachable way. I want writing to be a part of my Talent Stack .
For many years I approached learning with a mindset of perfection. Research the best possible way to approach any skill, then fuss over every detail. Sadly, all I ended up with was a list of things I tried and fell off the wagon. By setting up for perfection, it was a stream of disappointment from comparing myself to masters who had spent thousands of hours honing their craft. I don’t want to repeat the same mistake and drop writing after just a couple articles. Spoiler, this almost happened already! Luckily, I was reminded by a friend of the effectiveness of the quantity over quality approach. An art teacher graded one set of students on making as many pots as they could, the other group on making a single perfect pot. At the end, they found the best pots came from the students desperately trying to create as many as possible, because they kept learning from their mistakes rather than trying to perfect just one. Turns out humans learn really well by just doing the thing, a lot.
I will be doubling down on this approach towards writing. Instead of number of pots, I will grade myself by word count across both a daily free write & articles I publish online. For the free write, I have been writing 1 page in a small journal every day for a few months. The only rule I set was I had to fill the page, even if it was just the words “I have no idea what to write blah blah blah”. Even on days I start out with no idea what to write, my brain jumps in and starts kicking off new thoughts to follow.
Articles has been the more difficult one and the main reason I’m adopting this approach. I don’t like putting anything less than my best work out into the public eye, so I obsessively edit and rework articles, taking hours and hours on each one. Every minute of editing beyond what is necessary, though, is time I could have been practicing writing. I want to become a better writer, and I also want to publish only my best, but at some point I need to become comfortable with releasing imperfection. — <steal this for conclusion?> In the 2 weeks I’ve been following this approach, I’ve written at least double what I managed in the past by understanding it’s ok to call a post “done”.
I constantly struggle with putting my writing out into the world because I get trapped endlessly editing. As the creator, there is always something to fix if you go looking. Realizing quantity over quality is a viable strategy is my ticket to growing as a writer and actually publishing.
Stockpiling your best ideas for a future audience won’t make you a better writer.
Your piece may be bad. The topic may be over done. It may get ignored. But for the chance your words resonate with someone, write.
A college degree takes 4 years, a year or more to write a book, 10 years at the DMV. Facts...or are they? Life has no speed limits, so why treat them as laws?