When a shampoo manufacturer directs you to “Lather, rinse, repeat” they’re just trying to sell you more product. Repetition may not be essential for clean hair, but it is essential for clean prose. You want to write better? Learn, do, repeat.
Unless you’re taking a writing class—actually, even if you’re taking a writing class—reading what others have written remains one of the best ways of learning to write. Assuming that the “others” you read have more skill than you.
I had a friend who often told me she wished she were a better writer. But her skill level didn’t surprise me; she only read poorly written books from a certain genre of fiction. She needed to broaden her reading—include nonfiction, journalism, other kinds of fiction. And she needed to read better writers. As they say in the tech world, “Garbage in; garbage out.” Stock your brain regularly with great writing and it can’t help but thank you by making your writing better.
I’ll tell you a secret. I used to hate to write—because I hated being imperfect. And Lord knows writers have to churn out a lot of “imperfect” before we get to “halfway decent.”
What changed? I bought a computer. I no longer worked with a sea of crumpled paper lapping at my ankles. My “imperfect” writing never had to leave my hard drive if I didn’t want it to. I could even vanish it completely if I liked. Note to the tech-savvy: Yes, I know nothing ever gets erased completely—I watch Law & Order. But it turned out that all my brain needed was the illusion that no one would see my false starts. So I started writing.
And I kept writing.
And today, more than 25 years after someone first paid me to write for a living, I still feel like I get a little better every day. As the folks at Nike say, “Just do it.”
Now, writing in a vacuum won’t help you improve. You need to get your work off the hard drive and out into the world. Join a writer’s group. Find a great teacher to help give you perspective about what you’re writing—and what you’re reading.
A year’s worth of perspective
And that is why I am so excited about a new program I’m launching, called “The Weekly What.” It’s 52 weeks of emails to keep you engaged, practicing, and improving.
One week I’ll analyze a piece of great business or other public writing, giving you a “backstage pass” to the choices the writer made. The next week, I’ll send you a writing exercise, so you can get hands-on practice at using the skills you’re acquiring.
This is how I learned to write—by studying the bones of great writing and then trying it out myself.
Sounds like a great program, right? It gets even better. I’m offering “The Weekly What” for FREE…as a bonus for people who register for my new webinar “Moving On Up.”
Check out the package, and if you register by November 1st you get “The Weekly What” and two other bonuses for free.
This program is not for everyone. But if you’re ready to move up, I’m here to help.