Writing is a perishable skill. It’s one of those things that takes practice.
It really doesn’t matter how much you read and study about how to become a better writer. It doesn’t matter how much you talk about wanting to become a writer. At the end of the day, writing is about one thing and one thing only. Writing!
I have a bit of an unconventional opinion when it comes to the process of becoming a professional writer. There are a lot of people who would disagree with this notion of “reading” being nearly insignificant when it comes to mastering the craft of writing. I’m not saying I totally disregard it because I do read and write about becoming a better writer.
What turns you into a better writer is writing. Relentlessly. Let’s talk about how to make that happen.
How Much Are You Currently Writing Per Day? Double That Number
The truth is, writing is an exceedingly difficult craft. A lot of people like to think of writing as this magical process that happens with a glass of wine in one hand while overlooking an exotic beach when in reality, it’s an endurance sport. It takes practice, dedication, and refinement.
Two hours of writing per day is ok for starters. Three is better. Four to six hours is the sweet spot for taking your craft to the next level.
Choose a Time Of Day To Associate With Writing and Protect That Time No Matter What
When I started out my writing career, I was writing late at night between 10:00 p.m. and midnight. This was before I had taken the leap from my 9 to 5 corporate job and going all-in on writing and editing. Once writing and editing became my full-time job, I needed to make the most of the time that I had available.
I’ve always been a morning person, so that became the time of day that I would put my focus on writing and creating new content. It was the summer when I began, so a lot of the time I would go sit outside on my deck and write. Getting outside of my house ensured I was removing 99% of possible distractions. To this day my prime writing time is 8am to around noon. The afternoon is reserved for editing and other admin tasks.
To become a better writer, you need to carve out that time and protect that time frame from any other commitments or distractions. Slowly over time, your brain will start to associate those dedicated hours with writing. When that happens, the moment you sit down to begin writing, you’ll enter into a focused flow state much faster.
Continue To Build Your Personal Brand and Portfolio As You Go
In the case of starting too soon, they try to attract attention and build all this hype without any proof of work. They haven’t written anything yet or they aren’t publishing articles regularly. These people are far more interested in being known as a writer as opposed to actually being a writer.
In the case of being too late, writers spend years working on building up an impressive portfolio, only to realize that by the time they have amassed an impressive selection of writing, nobody knows who they are or what they write about. These writers are now behind the eight ball and hope that they can attract some sort of audience.
This is why you should publish as you go. Even if you don’t think your article is up to par, publish it and share it. Every time I publish an article, it’s get’s shared across all my social media outlets. Some are better than others, but my content is getting out there and people start to take notice.
One of the biggest reasons I publish whatever it is I write that day (usually in the form of an article) is because I want to continue building an audience for my website, the clients I’m writing for, and myself.
Never Spend More Time Reading and Researching than You Do Writing
The moment you spend more hours per day reading and researching than you do writing, you’re trending in the wrong direction. To be productive and hit your goals you need to be writing.
Writing is no different than playing a sport. Yes, sports teams spend time reviewing video footage of previous games and reading up on the other teams, but the majority of their time is spent practicing and playing the actual game. You’ll never get better without the physical practice of whatever it is you want to get better at. In this case, writing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to read and continue to learn. However, the moment my reading time exceeds my writing time, I know I need to make some adjustments to my time management. Either I’m being lazy or I’m avoiding writing on a topic that might not necessarily be exciting to write about. Just start writing.
Always prioritize your writing time over reading and other admin-type tasks.