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Two Paths to Being a Writer

Question from a reader -

You have maintained your commitment to being prolific which is made even more exceptional by the fact you are travelling around the world at the same time.

I realise your article on being prolific is about this, but accepting that I'm going to release a lot of crap before I realise something good is a tough wall to knock down. My biggest issue writing anything seems to be that it feel insufficent. Naturally no post I write has the length of Steve Yegge, the persuasiveness of Paul Graham, the content of Unqualified Reservations etc. etc. and while I can consciously accept this, there seems to be some mental block. How do you go "that's sufficient" and release it into the wild?

There's two basic approaches to being successful as a writer. The first, we could call the "Paul Graham / Derek Sivers" approach. This is where you explore a lot of ideas privately, go forward with the best ideas you have, and edit and polish the hell out of everything before you release it into the world. If you do this, and you've got talent as a writer, and you've got important ideas - then you're going to consistently only release masterpieces.

The second way is to just write a hell of a lot and know that a number of the things you write will turn out quite well, but your average quality level will be much lower. We could call this the "write every day no matter what" approach.

Write Freely, Edit Ruthlessly

On Imported Blog

If you ask any high school senior what the worst part about senior year is, their response will definitely be college applications. There are tons of essays one has to write. I, personally, wrote at least thirty.

But, there was a silver lining to this drudgery. I feel as if my writing and attitude towards it have improved. From ever since I can remember, I've struggled as a writer. I tend to be too wordy and I don't use much descriptive language. Certainly my preference for reading non-fiction in lieu of fiction doesn't help solve this problem.

This blog was (and still is!) an attempt for me to improve my writing. I don't know if it is working, but I hope it has helped me find my voice. I've never been able to analyze my own writing. I don't know my "style," but I am interested in how I write.

With these college essays, however, I can definitely say my writing has improved. First, I had to find some voice. These essays were personal, unlike most of the analytical writing I have to do in school. But, most of the improvement was in the little things. I never used to edit my work. If you look at past blog posts (and probably even this one), you will see they are littered with errors that I never fixed because I didn't proofread.

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