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I wrote every day for a year and learned a lot more than just to write better

The advice often given for those who want to become a great writer is to write every day. But if you ask the professional writers they usually disagree. Writing every day is not the way to become a great writer. In the end, it comes down to just writing a lot. But writing every day definitely gets you closer to that goal. And having such habits surely ensures you will keep up with it.

For a long time, I had the dream of becoming a better writer. Many times I decided I'll start writing. But there was always something holding me back. I was a too self-criticising perfectionist. I couldn't see myself writing anything good enough worth publishing without spending a lot of time iterating through the text and ensuring it would be perfect. Such behaviour kinda defeats the goal of writing a lot. If it takes a substantial amount of time to just write one single text writing a lot becomes too time-consuming and hence impossible unless you can dedicate your time fully to it.

What I eventually did, after a single really good question, was to let go of that perfection. Not only did I lower my barrier of perfection, I actually threw it out of the window altogether. A year ago I decided to start writing every day, no matter what. Just write, about anything. Don't worry about the quality or even spelling mistakes. I dedicated twenty minutes from my mornings to this writing exercise. I set a goal of 1400 characters for those texts. And just started writing.

Letting go of that perfection was liberating. It was so easy to just focus on writing, getting my thoughts out, into words. I'm sure those early texts are quite horrible to read. I don't even want to go back and read them again. But the goal was not to write good stories. The point was to get used to writing. And it worked really well. After just a couple of weeks, I was effortlessly writing those short texts every morning without much of a thought on anything except the topic of the day.

Most of the time it was easy to hit the goal. 1400 characters turned out to be quite an optimal length for such ad-hoc texts. Few times I would have had a lot more to say, but there were also times when I struggled to get up to even half of that. While 1400 characters isn't much, my texts were around 200-250 words on average, during the year I accumulated a total of more than 80 000 words or an equivalent of an average length book! It doesn't require too much effort to achieve great things. Just a little bit of determination and perseverance.

Just writing a lot on its own doesn't make you a great writer. You also need to make sure you become better over time. Getting confident in writing is the first part. And essential to actually get forward. After I become comfortable writing regularly it was time to start focusing on actually improving my writing skills. First thing was to get rid of all those stupid spelling mistakes. And with today's technology that has become really easy: just enable a spell checker. It's not just a tool to correct all your mistakes. After a while, I already noticed my mistakes count was becoming lower. Just noticing those mistakes make them easy to pay attention to those things and you notice them right when you make them. You just don't want to see all those red lines under your text.

Of course, those don't catch all mistakes. There are words that are really close to each other, sounds the same but are spelt differently and can mean completely different things. Luckily I had readers who were eager to point out such mistakes. And after getting notified about hose once it became more of a game to make sure it won't happen again. It's ok to do the mistake once, or until you notice it. But when you are aware of it repeating it is just a shame.

Getting feedback is an important part of becoming better at whatever you are doing. As with the mixed words, it can sometimes be hard to spot the mistakes you are making. But when you share what you are doing with others you increase the possibility to find those mistakes. You might think you can do it on your own, or with the help of technology. But in the end, nothing beats the honest feedback from others.

And by asking feedback from others you don't only get better technically. You can also get feedback on other qualities like how comprehensible your text is, how does your tone work, is your text boring to read or does it leave reader yearning for more?

While I was on my way to becoming a better writer the topics I wrote brought up a lot of things. I wrote a lot of lifehacks, about self-improvement and productivity. I wrote movie reviews, poems, travel diaries and event coverages. But I also wrote about my feelings and thoughts. Each of these categories gave me something new through writing. I did have some new perspective on my daily life be it just an ordinary day or attending to an even abroad. Paying focus to such things can really see those things in a completely new light. And as with noticing the mistakes in your writing putting your daily thoughts in words can help you notice the mistakes in your life. And noticing the mistakes is the first step fixing them and becoming better in general.

So after a year of writing I believe I'm not just a bit better writer, but also a bit better person.

If you want to read all of what I wrote you can start from here

How to keep going

It's been almost a year now when I started this blog. Not many posts since...

Getting started is one thing,but keep going doing something regularly is different. There is a difference between starting a blog and start blogging. I think I completed the former task almost a year ago, but actually newer started the later. Starting a blog is a good example of a task that you can start and finish. There is clear definition of done attached to it. But some tings just aren't meant to be finished, like blogging, exercising, eating healthy. You just start those and then keep doing, keep going. You need to form a habit. You need grit!

Now I'm not going to tell how to form habits or anything. A time for that is probably later when I have actually figured that stuff out and applied them successfully. But that's what I'm going to do next. I'm going to start forming a habit. A habit of writing. The goal is to get more comfortable in writing so that I could write more of those blog posts, maybe something else too.

So I'm going to start yodeling. A yodel is kind of a tweet, only bigger, louder. So my yodel posts will be short writings max 1400 characters. I try to write one every day. I don't pay attention whether they are well written, I dont even care about spelling mistakes. I just write. Anything that comes to my mind. Let's see how it goes and if I'm successful forming such a habit I'll write that actual blog post on how to form a habit.

Until that time there will hopefully be a lot more updates here, only shorter.

How to get started

Taking the first step is the most important step towards any goal, but often it can also be the hardest. There are many things that can help you take that first step. In this post I'm listing some of those that I have found helpful achieving my goals.

Have a clear goal

When you know what you are trying to archive it's much easier to stay focused. Having clear vision on what the end result will be gives you better sense of purpose to get started.

Make a commitment

When you have made commitment towards the goal you feel obligated to start working. This can be for example financial investment or a promise that you will get it done. Not living up to your investment can be a bigger source of anxiety than starting to work.

For example getting this blog launched I got the domain name and server ready. Not writing anything here would have meant that I keep losing money for nothing.

Get over perfection paralysis

Often it might feel like you are not ready for the task. You feel you are not able to finish the task so that it would be perfect and without flaws. You don't have to get it perfect the first time. Focusing on getting something done and improving it later is a much better approach.

To get this blog released I just picked up a nice looking theme on top of pretty stock drupal installation. It's not perfect, but it gets the job done and it's easy to improve later along the way.

Have some fun

Some tasks might feel like just plain boring. Adding some fun to the task that makes you look forward to get started might be a good idea. This might feel counterintuitive having more to do, but if it gets you started it's worth it.

It would have been easy to put my blog on some readymade blogging platform. But I like fiddling with the technical things and wanted to go have it all managed by myself. The joy of getting to tune every little thing was the thing to keep me exited.

Force yourself

Deadlines are probably the most important things in the world to getting things done. If you don't have externally set deadline just give yourself one. You just have to be your own supervisor on this one. Don't let yourself too easy!

Reward success

Give yourself small rewards when you complete a task. Some tasks can be rewarding by themselves, but the rest might need some extra incentives. It's easier to start working on something when you know you'll get rewarded at the end.

Use available tools

You don't have to always start from the scratch. For many things there are ready made tools that you can use to make the task a lot easier. This could also help you around the perfectionism by providing the verification.

Make preparations

When you have done your background work it's a lot easier to just jump in. Make sure you have everything you need to complete the task at hand when starting. If you are not prepared can lead to interruptions and risks postponing the task once again.

Start small

You are not going to take over the world overnight. Focus on the goals that are actually achievable and work up towards bigger goals one step at the time. If the task feels too overwhelming step back and re-evaluate the goal.

Take smaller steps

Having your tasks divided to a smaller steps makes it a lot easier to pick up a task. That way you don't feel intimidated by the scope of the task and work needed. You should be sure you are able to complete the task at once and not worry to find time and energy to return to the task later. Having small bite-sized tasks gives you the sense of achieving. Completing many small tasks makes it a lot easier to work toward bigger goals.

Don't leave tasks unfinished

Always try to finish task at hand. Unfinished tasks just keep accumulating to your mind not giving you a rest. Soon you are not able to start or continue on any task as you have a feeling of must do them all.

It's dangerous to go alone

You can always involve others in your tasks. If you get stuck or don't know something there is always somebody you could ask for help. Also don't neglect the importance of feedback. It is the best way to improve!

I hope this will be as helpful to you completing your tasks as it has been for me. I just got a huge checkmark to my todo list completing this task of writing the first post of my blog!