Hey! I can’t believe we’re already into the second month. Let’s kick off with a hard truth:
Some of you are better at writing than others. Words will come easier to you and this is your unfair advantage. Whether this is you or not—EMBRACE IT.
Why? Because talent is overrated and through repeated action, you can level the playing field.
Hard work in the right things will always birth brilliance no matter who you are.
Writing Lesson of the Week:
Stephen King is known as one of the most prolific writers of our time. By the end of 2016, he had written a grand total of 57 novels. He must be talented, yes? Maybe. But more than anything, King is a writing machine with a work ethic like no other.
He writes for about 4–6 hours, every day with a personal goal of about 10 pages a day. I dislike people like this because I prefer laziness. Don’t be like me.
In his book, ‘On Writing’, King gives his great commandment:
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
CRAP! This is like hate-speech to me because I prefer to wait for inspiration before I write and I will rather eat pork than read a book. So today’s lesson is for me as much as it is for you. Here are the three activities that are guaranteed to unlock your creative brilliance in writing:
1. Write something every day: Being a better writer means you always have to write. It's the compounding effect that makes anyone just a bit better than they were a day before.
A guy who runs every day for an entire year has a better chance of winning a gold medal at the Olympics, than the talented athlete who only believes He can run.
You don’t need confidence (or talent), you need repeated actions.
Writing every day or two is easy. You already do it. Text messages, emails, tweets, Instagram captions. All I’m asking you (Ahem and I) is to make a conscious effort to write some words down a day. You already know how to pay attention, so there’s an endless stream of things to write about. Build your writing muscle.
It’s going to be hard because You and I are weird people. We want the ‘writer’ tag without the effort to go along with it. Once we start writing, we love it! But at the same time, we will do everything possible to avoid writing. So start small.
Start with five minutes a day. I’m going to start with an hour a day because apart from writing and creative ideas, I may be pretty unemployable.
If you write every day for the next six months, and someone else writes whenever they feel inspired or maybe once a week, I do not care how talented they are, you will be better than them anywhere they are in the world in a year’s time. This is a fact. So start writing. Consistently.
How to: Create a writing routine with a place and time. For example, Every morning at 9 am - 10 am, I will write on my bedroom table on Medium. Read this article for more tips.
PS: You don’t have to publish every day. Writing and publishing are different. Always write, but publish when it’s ready.
Read Often: Remember that quote we used to throw around while we were kids? “Readers are Leaders”? Well well, It has come back to haunt us. Great writers are great readers. We cannot escape it.
Reading serves as the bases of quality writing. Books are my bane, so, I compensate by reading a ton of content via articles. But If I want to get my writing to the next level, books are a must. It is what it is.
Read what you love. Read about the genre you write in and across other genres—historical fiction, romance, suspense, philosophy, the bible, whatever it is, Read something every day and learn from the very best.
If you’re an avid reader, you have a leg up! Use it to your advantage, devour books as your writing depends on it. Study the author’s writing style, the development of character, scene to scene. Hard work yes, but when you begin to write so effortlessly, your readers will thank you for it. A great book to read on writing is Anne Lamott’s ‘Bird by Bird’.
Have a note-taking system: This is the bread and butter of my writing process.
The internet rewards people who are prolific and Note-taking is the best way to become a prolific writer. In all your writing and reading, your brain will begin to evolve into an idea-machine and you’ll have epiphanies. YOU NEED TO ALWAYS RECORD THEM.
This may be the most important tip because you won’t always feel like writing and you won’t always feel like reading. There will be days you will run on empty. A note-taking system will be your guide on those days. Learn to save every idea you come across, the thoughts that interest you, things you find interesting on the internet. Don’t leave it to chance or your memory, because both of them will disappoint you.
Writing is the Pot
Reading is the Ingredient
A note-taking system is the fire.
Gather your ideas and start cooking.
You can be as great as you want to become in writing and change the world in the process, but your effort is the ceiling.
I’m giving it everything I’ve got.
How bad do you want it?
For the Community: I want to help you as much as possible in setting up your routine or your note-taking system, so I’m opening up a thread feature for all subscribers.
You can now interact with me and everyone live on the Substack page! Ask your questions, share your social media profile, interact with other writers, share your articles for review and have as much fun as you want. The thread will be open all week until Friday. So get commenting!
Till next time.
PS: If this was shared to you, subscribe below so you don’t miss any lesson going forward. Join the community below. Don’t forget to move this mail to your ‘primary’ inbox so it doesn’t end up in ‘spam’ or ‘promotions’.