For the longest time, I remember always being fascinated with novels and short stories and wanting to create my own. Then one day in the beginning of my senior year of high school, I got the bright idea that if I was going to be a writer, I better start writing. So everyday after school I would take my dad’s typewriter, shove a blank sheet of paper in, and start making up stories.
Amazingly, I never got discouraged even when my initial stories were awful and could barely make it past three pages (with double spaced text). I simply told myself that if I was going to be a writer, I needed to write every day even if what I wrote was pure garbage.
I remember starting around September and by the end of my senior year, not only could I write fifteen-page stories easily, but they were much richer, more complex, and far better written than my earliest attempts. I didn’t get better at writing because of any natural talent, but because I just kept writing and never gave up despite writing horrible stories.
I read somewhere that to establish a habit (good or bad), you need to practice it consistently for 30 days in a row. If you can do that, then it will actually be easier to keep following that habit than to break it. If you can’t do something for 30 days in a row, it’s easier to abandon it.
So if you want to become a better writer, simply write everyday for 30 days in a row. At the end of 30 days, ask yourself if you’ve gotten better in any way, even if it’s just being able to type faster and easier. Any sort of progress is something to cherish. You may not make massive progress in your writing ability in 30 days, but you’ll likely make noticeable progress. Then keep going. You’ll never get better by giving up. You can always get better by continuing to practice and improve.
Jim Rohn, the motivational speaker, once said that the formula to success in any endeavor is a combination of action plus skill. If you have a lot of skill, you don’t need to take much action. However, if you don’t have much skill, you need to make up for it with lots of action. The more action you take, the greater you’ll develop your skill. Between action and skill, action is far more important because action develops and improves your skill.
Some people will always be naturally better at certain tasks than others, but if you take massive action towards your goal, you’ll eventually develop the skill you need to achieve your goals.
In writing, make it a habit to write everyday for 30 days in a row. If you already are writing everyday, set another goal for yourself such as practicing writing dialogue or character description (if you’re a fiction writer) or explaining complex tasks in simple language (if you’re a nonfiction writer). There’s always a skill you can work on, so make it a habit to work on just improving one skill at a time. By the end of the year, you’ll have improved far more than if you never took any action at all.
Writing is a skill that you can develop through lots of action (writing). The secret to success relies more on your willingness to take action than anything else.