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.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, 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.