For the first couple of decades, I had one goal as a writer: to write faster. Over time I wrote with increased speed and could crank out articles and blog posts quickly. For longer works, I simply broke them into bite-sized chunks and knocked them off one at a time. Easy peasy.
The problem was that my writing was not getting better—at least not much better. Yes, it was quicker and easier but improvements were a slow byproduct.
About five years ago, I made a U-turn. I ceased pursuing speed to focus on quality. I sought to improve. I wanted to write with more punch; I wanted to make my words count.
When I first started this quest, my speed dropped significantly. Then, after a couple of years of focusing on improvement, my writing rate rebounded. But I deem it secondary to quality.
The odd thing about striving to improve as a writer is that the better I become, the more I realize I need to learn. In fact, there is so much to master, so many skills to hone, that it overwhelms me at times. I will never complete this journey.
Yet I can’t look at the end goal for it is too big; I must attend to each small stride, taking my writing journey step by step, day by day.
To do this I read books, blogs, and magazines about writing; I listen to writing and publishing podcasts, I take online classes, and I go to conferences. I apply what I learn, but most importantly, I write every day. The practice may not make perfect, but it moves me in that direction.
Each day I walk towards my goal. Each day I improve as a writer. That’s all we can do; that’s the best we can do.
My journey is different from yours. You need to do what’s right for you. Start today.
Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.
7 replies on “Are You Seeking to Improve as a Writer?”
Peter, I thought you had it all together a long time ago 🙂
When I look back to the time I began writing my book, I laugh with my self and my ignorance to see that it was in its primitive state. I was so eager and confident that I gave it to an editor. Thank God, she was a good and tactful friend and editor.
Since then, I keep learning and moving forward in a similar way you do: reading books, taking classes, asking questions, and reading posts and articles on writing. I have learned a lot. I am still learning. This is one of the reasons that I hold back on publishing and continue editing over and over again. Each time I read, I recognize words, sentences, or thoughts that could be reconstructed in a better and clearer way.
Writing is a journey, indeed. For some, longer than that of others.
Writing is indeed a journey. As long as we’re moving forward and improving, we are doing great!
Peter, the part that hit me, was that the more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn! Yes, that’s me! It is amazing how long it takes to improve and how sometimes I get impatient and want things published now. It is a journey and we need to enjoy the ride and stop and smell roses once in awhile too! Thanks for this!
There are some writers who don’t realize they need to improve or think they know enough. I never want to be that person!
For those like me who have learned English as a second language, perfect writing will always be difficult, if not impossible.
I have even thought to buy a grammar editing program. Have you ever used one? Would that help me see and correct errors?
Check out http://www.grammarly.com.
(I did a free trial but didn’t pursue it further. However, it looks like they have improved things since then. If you try it, let me know.)
I almost did, Peter. The last moment I lost my nerve. Maybe I will retry at some point.
I will certainly share if I do.
Have a great week ahead!