Since I started writing on this site about three years ago, I have been thinking a lot about writing as a craft. What are the qualities of good writing? Are there any recipes or best practices to become a better writer? What are the tricks and habits of great writers? And so, although I knew that there are no magic recipes that guarantee a positive outcome, I found myself listening to podcasts, reading books, and skimming articles on writing. On the one hand, I was curious to learn how other people approached the process of writing, and on the other hand, a little voice in my head wasn’t satisfied with the questionable advice to “write drunk, edit sober” – there had to be more.
Over time, I have been collecting quite a few interesting ideas and strategies around writing and in this and some upcoming posts, I want to share a few of those ideas. I have written before about how important it is to share even the tiniest bit of information because even something that seems insignificant to you might actually spark an idea in someone else. So I hope that sharing those ideas will be of value for those of you who also want to improve their writing or share a general interest in the topic. Depending on what you are writing – poetry or prose, fiction or non-fiction, a book or an article for your personal website – some of those ideas may be more applicable than others. And, of course, it is still up to you to decide what strategies might work for you and which you want to try.
So here’s the first idea:
Sit down regularly to write.
This is a piece of advice that has come up over and over again in books or interviews with accomplished writers. Besides their love for words, they all share one important habit: They regularly sit down to write. Of course, they do, you might say. This is so obvious! As with so many things in life, you don’t become good at writing without practice, right? Yet, so many people who would love to improve their writing or publish more often, including me, still don’t sit down regularly to write. The key is to not only “try to write more often” or say to yourself that you will “write when you find some time”, but to actually sit down every day at roughly the same time and write. It doesn’t matter if it’s early in the morning or late at night. That’s up to you. It also doesn’t matter what you write and if you also publish your work. The only thing that does matter, is that you force yourself to sit down and start typing.
Over time, you will notice a few things: For one, it will become easier and easier to focus and put down your thoughts. You will also have more ideas about what to write. As sitting down to write becomes a habit, you will even feel the need to write something. And, most importantly, your writing will improve as you gain confidence. Confidence not only in your ability to write in general but also in your ability to write more versatile, to try out new things, to play with the material. By sitting down to write, you will become a writer.
That is not to say that you won’t have bad days anymore. Days when you just sit there, at your desk, desperately waiting for inspiration to strike, unable to put down a single word. Days on which you need to force yourself to finalize even the most halting sentences. Days when scrolling a social media feed might seem like such a tempting alternative. Resist. Persist. Even the most accomplished writers have their rainy days. What matters is that you show up and create something, even if it is a rough draft that nobody except you will ever see. It’s a bit like doing scales or finger exercises when playing the piano. It might feel dull and cumbersome at times, but eventually, you will improve your play.
So sit down regularly. And write.