In today’s issue of Writing Mistakes, we’re going to take a look at one of the biggest mistakes people make with their writing: not doing it.
Writing is a skill like many others, one that needs to be honed and developed. According to Malcolm Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours for you to become an expert at anything, including writing. Even if you spend 20 hours a week writing, that’s still about 10 years before you are an expert.
Now, for those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to spend 20 hours a week writing what we love, it’s ESSENTIAL to spend at least a little bit of time EVERY DAY practicing. It will take us much longer to reach the 10,000-hour mark, but we’ll make progress toward it.
I try to follow Stephen King’s admonition to write about 1,000 words per day. I shoot for 1,000 words, but I can usually fit about 1,200 to 1,300 in the 60 minutes I have set aside for myself every afternoon. It helps me to keep the story fresh in my mind, but it also helps to sharpen my skills as a writer.
When I write a bit every day, more ideas come to me because my subconscious mind is chewing over the writing I will do that day. I think of new concepts that can help me to improve the story, or I find that certain things I read stand out to me more. I notice new writing styles that contrast my own, and it’s easier to find the holes in my writing.
I only started this “1,000 words a day” practice a few months ago, and I’m already nearing the end of the first draft of my new novel. It’s good progress, but without any hurry. I’m adding 1,000 to 2,000 words a day, and loving it!
For you writers, the only way to improve is to spend time writing (and reading, of course). If you can’t set aside a large enough chunk of time to write 1,000 words, at least spend 30 to 45 minutes sitting at your computer or with your pen in hand. You NEED to write more every day, as that’s the only way you’ll get better–both at writing and at telling a story.
Practice makes perfect, so set aside time to practice EVERY SINGLE DAY!