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