Dear Reader, trust you’re keeping safe?
Today we want to tell you that the key to taking your writing muscles from puny to brawny is to write every day. That writing is a habit, not an art. It is the former—and I’ll talk about that in a minute.
But before we do, let’s reframe this business of writing. As you think of developing a writing habit, realize that you probably already do write every day. You write emails; you post to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; you comment on blogs. Recognize all that posting for what it is: writing.
And reframe it as a legit aspect of your daily workout—in the same way always taking the stairs becomes, over time, part of a fitness regimen.
We hope you’ll consider this first rule a kind of call to arms to improve all of your communications, rather than just the stuff we traditionally think of as “content.”
Embrace the idea that your words are your Web currency: they are a proxy, a stand-in for the important things you want to convey to your readers, customers, and the world.
We want your readers and followers and audience to enjoy your words more, and we want you to maybe even feel a little proud of them. But getting to that point requires—in all of us—a crucial shift: viewing the words we use as an important piece of who we (and our companies) are online.
First, though, we have to overcome what holds us back from being writers: a combination of fear, lethargy, and a lack of confidence or knowledge (or both).*m
“If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot,” Stephen King writes in his book On Writing. He is talking to those who want to make their living as he does, writing books.
But, in our world, we’re all already writing and reading a lot. Every day. We are writers. You are a writer. Everybody writes.
We’re tempted to think that writing is an art, that only an anointed lucky few can do it well. But that’s an excuse—a justification that lets the lazy among us off the hook for being the communication equivalent of a couch potato: flabby, unmotivated, inarticulate. But the truth is that the key to being a better writer is, essentially, to be a more productive one. Or more simply, the key to being a better writer is to write.
Becoming a better writer—working the muscle— takes some commitment to simply show up, not unlike the commitment we keep with gym trainers. But the point is to keep at it, even when it’s uncomfortable and you’d rather quit.
Simply put, the key to being a better writer is to write. Make a regular habit of it, because habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. In this case, habit lends the necessary scaffolding to support better writing.
Write like crap if you have to. But write every day. Keep the streak alive.
Don’t write a lot. Just write often. Spending five hours on a Saturday writing isn’t nearly as valuable as spending 30 minutes a day every day of the week. Especially when you’re just getting started.” Oh, how Tobi Aiyenugba talks about why that daily part is important: He says habits “practiced once a week aren’t habits at all. They’re obligations.”
“And let’s not kid ourselves here,” he adds. “If you’re doing something once a week, it’s probably only a matter of time before you stop doing it altogether.”
There are no shortcuts to becoming a better writer. So show up at your desk and get to it. Daily.
Have a productive week!