5 lessons I learned as a beginner to become a better writer
Writing is a crucial skill for building a business and growing your personal brand. But the process of becoming a better writer is a thorny path. So I want to share with you what I did to become a better writer.
Yet two years ago, I barely could read in English, and only five months ago, I published my first article on Medium. For now, several posts are part of significant Medium’s publications with over 600k.
Even thou I am a beginner in writing, I can see how my articles got better. Here the seven lessons, I learned as a beginner to improve this skill.
To become a better writer, you need to …
Write. Unfortunately, there is no other way to get better at it. To get better in something, you need to practice it.
But writing has resistance. And it isn’t as easy as it sounds like sitting down to write. I have tons of excuses and fears what hold me back from writing.
In the beginning, I thought that taking courses or reading about writing gonna help me. Now I understand that it was mainly an excuse to avoid writing. Nothing improved my skills in writing more than writing.
To get better at drawing — draw
To get better at designing — design
To get better at coding — code
To get better at writing — …
I guess you got what I mean.
Sure, books and courses are valuable, but I think they are more useful when you have something to apply to. Be careful, so that writing course isn’t just an excuse for not doing.
“You can’t read about push-ups. You gotta do them.”
Accept that your writing gonna be shitty.
Fear of producing lousy writing can hold you back from writing an article.
In the beginning, I was fortunate enough to avoid this problem. When I started to write posts, it was only 2 years from the point where I could barely read in English. I was sure that my writings were going to suck, and I wasn’t expecting anything from doing this.
I treated writing as a practice.
Later I anyway faced this fear when my writings got some traction. I was expecting every article to perform, as well as my previous ones. But they don’t always do.
I was overthinking every step of writing. Had some uncomfortable feeling when writing because of fear to write pice worse than my other ones.
When I realized the root cause of this, writing flow a bit easier.
Nobody is a great writer until they do. Accept that your writings won’t be excellent at the beginning and keep practicing.
“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success
You have ideas!
If you ever tried to write, I bet you know the feeling of having no ideas. When you sit in front of a laptop and stare at a blank document. This is a tough place to be in.
I often have this situation. And I recently learned what the reason for this was.
In my notes, I always have a list of ideas. But I still couldn’t pick any to write. I did not feel like writing on these ideas. In my head, I had negative self-talk as “Why should anyone even listen?”, “I have nothing to say,” and so on.
I had ideas, I was afraid of the judgment of my opinion on this idea. This self-talk is just an excuse to avoid this fear. After realizing this, writing became more relaxed and less resistant.
Everybody has a right to have an opinion and express it. So why you and I should be afraid of doing this? It is just an opinion, your perspective on the world.
Ask your self what stopping you from writing. Maybe it is the same fear?
You don’t decide whether your writing is good or bad.
There was an article that I didn’t want to publish. I think that it isn’t as good as some of my other ones.
Anyway, I published this article. What happened next taught me a great lesson.
This article was accepted in the publication with over 600k followers. And it performed on top of my pieces.
I already submitted my two other works to this publication before. Both of these articles weren’t accepted even though I considered them to be way better.
There is little to no correlation of how you feel about your article and how its performance. A reader decides the quality of your work, not you. So don’t judge for a reader and not be afraid of publishing.
“Your harshest critic is always going to be yourself. Don’t ignore that critic, but don’t give it more attention than it deserves.”
— Michael Ian Black
Don’t try to make a good pice with one try.
This trick I learned from the book “Everybody Writes” by Ann Handley.
When I only started out, my process of writing was quite slow. I was trying to write a post in one attempt. Writing and self-editing myself at the same time.
I learned that in Ann’s book, it would be better off to split writing in two steps. Ugly Draft and Editing.
In an ugly draft, you get all of your idea out on the paper. Just get in the flow and write without editing and judging yourself. Nobody gonna see this draft.
And only when you finished with a draft and got all your thoughts out, you start editing it. Anna also recommends taking some time between ugly draft and editing to keep you fresh.
You are like an artist who creates a beautiful sculpture by removing unnecessary parts.
This trick made writing a whole lot easier for me. Now I don’t stress that my article doesn’t have a clear structure when expressing my thoughts. I know that later I will put everything in its places.
To get a better writer, you need to write more. And to do so, you need to overcome the resistance the writing comes with.
What helped me is being self-aware on what are the root causes that hold me back from writing.
If you find it too challenging to write, take a minute to reconsider the real reason for this? What fears prevent you from publishing?
These are beliefs I held that made writing a bit easier:
- To get better at writing, I need to write
- In the beginning, my writings gonna be shitty, and it’s OK
- I always have ideas, I just afraid of the judgment of my opinions
- Don’t try to create a whole article in one attempt
- An audience decides whether my writing is good or bad, not I
“It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.
What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”
― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles