“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.
That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
― Octavia E. Butler
I wasn’t sure I wanted to write this, but a few recent conversations made me realise that a lot has changed since my last article on writing, which was 2 years ago.
So I thought it’d be cool to do a follow up on what I’ve learned about writing between that post and now.
First off, I still write at least once a month on my site, I replicate most of the content on medium because it’s an alternative means of distribution. Generally, I’d say I’ve become a more confident writer and as I told Moyo who called me a pro recently, “As you get better, your taste also gets better.”
Three years in and I’d always advocate for starting out with a schedule that is ridiculously easy to maintain and oftentimes doesn’t feel like you’re doing much. It works for me. Just focus on being consistent
30 mins a day? One article a month?
On what to write about
I’m still a huge fan of writing about what get’s to you, why would you write about something you don’t care about? It’d be great to know what to focus on at the beginning, but if you don’t know, then just write about what you’re interested in.
Share your thoughts and experiences. Your writing would teach, inspire or entertain someone.
Where to write
I first started with Blogger but didn’t like the restricted templates, so I moved to WordPress — I’m still here and suspect I’d be with WordPress for a longer time. I added Medium, as a second outlet just because people are there also.
On being a good writer and thinker
Writing helps you clarify your thoughts, most people think better when they write it out first. Many times it’s not thinking clearly that helps you write better, it’s making an attempt to write that helps you think better.
Reading and working with timelines help you express your creativity better.
Just keep to a [reasonable] timeline and your brain would work wonders. Initially, your writing style would mirror what you like to read about until you evolve into a mix of what you read with a tint of your personality.
You don’t know how creative you are, you don’t. You’d always keep surprising yourself by the kind of stuff you come up with. You might have what you want to write figured out, however, once you start writing other ideas start coming that wouldn’t have come if you didn’t start writing.
Writing the news differently every week has made me comfortably agree with this statement by Maya Angelou “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
Write like you talk is still the best advice I’ve heard except you’re a journalist or a fiction writer or something else.
It seems to be hard for most people to write in spoken language. So perhaps the best solution is to write your first draft the way you usually would, then afterwards look at each sentence and ask “Is this the way I’d say this if I were talking to a friend?” If it isn’t, imagine what you would say, and use that instead. After a while, this filter will start to operate as you write. When you write something you wouldn’t say, you’ll hear the clank as it hits the page.
Write like you talk. Often.
Three years in and I’d say that I don’t think I’d get to a point where I’d always want to share what I write. Every now and then I’d probably have second thoughts. It’s just the way the human brain works; so I’ve learnt to keep to my schedule instead.
Sometimes you love your work and think it’s the best thing ever, other times your brain tells you it’s kinda trash and you shouldn’t share it.
As always I turn to Ira Glass for a reminder of why I shouldn’t be surprised:
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. . . . And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. . . It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.
It’s just writing but you’d meet amazing people and opportunities.
David Perell says Writing is a superpower and I agree with him. I’ve met some of my best friends today from writing, I won’t change that for anything.
I haven’t commercialised my writing yet to brag about how much I’ve made, however, I attended the Global Drucker Forum Twice — a great opportunity — just from writing essays.
It’s been worth the effort.
In the next few years, I’m excited about how much more I’d learn about writing by trying out different writing styles and reading what other people are writing.