Sitting down in front of a blank page can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. Just like so many other things, writing is a skill. And to develop a skill and get better at it you have to practice.
In writing, that means writing something – anything – every day. Whether it’s one page in your journal, one paragraph in a blog or a whole chapter in your book, just the act of getting something down on paper can help improve your writing.
Have you ever read an author’s series from start to finish? If so, you probably noticed their writing changed (and more than likely improved) between the first book and the last. That’s because you learn and get better as you go along. You learn to “show and not tell” in your writing and to avoid using ten words when one or two would do (two topics we’ll touch on in later blog posts).
In her book, Living Write: The Secret to Inviting Your Craft Into Your Daily Life, writer Kelly L. Stone reminds us that daily actions create long-term outcomes. She says:
You may not realize it but whether or not you write today is important--it matters. There is power in the act of daily writing, and when you touch your craft every day, it becomes part of your life, a habit that you’ll miss if you skip it too often. Successful writers have learned to weave the craft of writing into their daily lives, and you can too. It’s what you do now, here, today, that will determine if you finish your novel. The more you write, the more you feel like writing. Momentum will build, and with it, your motivation, dedication, and enthusiasm for writing.
But remember - writing isn’t just what happens on screen. Or on paper. A lot of it is in the head. Your best ‘writing’ may happen while you’re at the grocery store, or on a long walk. When something pops into your mind, try talking to yourself. If you can’t express it out loud, you probably can’t write it. And if you can’t voice it, try to figure out why. If that doesn’t work, then file it away for another day. Clear writing requires clear thinking.
It’s not always easy to write every day. Try setting a timer for ten minutes and writing during that time. The next day set the timer for 20 minutes and write. By the end of the week you’ll be writing for 70 minutes – and you can get a lot down in 70 minutes.
The most important thing is to figure out a process that works for you – and get something down on the page every day.