I’ve been writing for more years than I care to admit. My journey falls into three segments and in each one, I accidentally discovered a key to becoming a better writer.
Increase Your Speed: For most of my life, the writing was something I did as an adjunct to something else. It was part of my job, representing a task to complete or a means to a goal. Therefore, I desired to write with greater efficiency, to produce the desired output in a shorter time. Speed mattered. This phase was the longest, spanning a couple of decades. Over time, I learned to write faster, to produce decent content quickly. Writing became easier.
Increase Your Quantity: I started blogging in 2008, requiring that I write more frequently. No longer was it just a monthly column to create, a report to generate, or a project to complete. My writing output increased. I wrote when I felt like it, and I wrote when I didn’t. Eventually blogging inspired book ideas, and I began writing every day.
Increase Your Quality: I was writing quickly and frequently. Because of this, the quality of my output slowly improved. But this was not enough. I changed my focus. I studied the craft, I read books about writing, and I joined critique groups. With each new discovery, the quality of my work improved. Though this reduced my speed at first, it was a tradeoff worth making. As I became more confident in my writing knowledge, my speed returned and then surpassed my prior level.
Though I will never fully arrive, my writing is in a good place and improving every day.
Had I to do it again, had I been intentional, I’d have reversed the order. I’d have first focused on quality and then mixed in quantity. Last, I’d have pursued speed, while maintaining the first two. But regardless of the order pursued, a good writer must possess all three traits: quality, quantity, and speed.
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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.
6 replies on “Three Keys to Becoming a Better Writer”
Definitely quality is the area which needs the attention. I do worry about speed as well but not as much as with consistency. To write a decent amount every day will lift me to the next level for sure. Thank you Peter.
I work for people who write for a living. I transcribe volumes of their letters, briefs, and summaries. Talk about quantity and speed. These guys write on the fly, not even putting their words on paper first. I marvel at their abilities. I do see improvement in their the quality of their “writing,” from the time they start as fresh associate attorneys and as they mature into partners. Some of them revise what they say after they see it on paper, but frequently there is not much change. As for me, I’ll just have to keep plugging along…
Great thoughts Peter…I am working on quantity and quality. I do fairly well with speed…if I am not editing 🙂
The discipline of writing every day and pushing the gremlins off my shoulder as I do is tough. Being bold enough to practice in public – another challenge.
Thanks for the encouragement.
Yes, Jerry. Quality is definitely the place to start. I did things backwards. I guess I like learning the hard way.
Nancy, thanks for your post and being part of the conversation.
(I hope you’re enjoying Tribe Writers.)
Legal writing makes my head spin! I admire you for being able to keep up and not lose focus.
How does working with writers and doing transcription help to form and inform you own work as a writer?