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It’s High Time We Leave This Mindset Behind and Sail On to Become a Better Writer
One big lesson I learnt after writing online for more than a year and half
I wrote my first article on Medium on July 8, 2021. I have been making one big mistake ever since. Until someone’s comment recently made me realise that I was ignorant about the same.
On some retrospective exploration, I discovered this was not some random mistake or misunderstanding but a big flaw in my mindset.
So what is it and why do I think most new writers often encounter this in their writing careers? How can we ship beyond this issue and lay our writing skills on a stronger foundation?
These questions and many more have been bugging me for the past two days and I have tried my best to find the best answer to them.
This article is not about some writing-skills-improving potion that you need to consume or AI tools that will take you to the moon. No. It is about the most basic of them all — so basic we oftentimes forget if it even exists.
The elephant in the room
Have you ever felt like you want to write but due to a million and one known and unknown reasons you can’t? What are the forces acting here that are stopping you from doing something you apparently love?
One of the biggest reasons behind this is the constant tussle going on between your reality and expectations. You have big plans and lofty goals. But reality sadly doesn’t work that way.
You are not an AI (and nor should you be) that gives out 1,000 words in seconds after you have given it the prompt. Your mind doesn’t work that way. You are a human. Some days you are able to write more productively than others. Being a little too harsh on ourselves is what this hustle culture has normalised.
I will cut to the chase: the problem is to confuse consistency with writing every day. Churning out content day in and day out. Doing as if you are obliged to do so and then think it is normal.
It is not that those are wrong and useless from tip to toe. Many points and approaches mentioned there still hold true and are extremely effective.
The problem arises when you try to displace one thing for the other and term this behaviour okay and try to popularise it. I was wrong there.
I will take this opportunity to mention that consistency doesn’t mean every day. It can even mean once or twice a week. I used to think otherwise.
The big revelation
I posted an article about whether the new writers should focus on being consistent on my Substack. Upon reading it, one can clearly point out that I am being interchangeable with ‘consistency’ and ‘writing daily.’
This comment made me think. Think about everything that I had earlier taken for granted.
One of the biggest takeaways from the comment, apart from pointing out the basic mindset flaw, was this: you should be respectful towards your reader’s time.
Writing daily might satisfy your ego but what about the reader’s time? Will I be able to do so?
The answer was a big fat no.
P.S. Thank you for pointing this out, Holly Jahangiri. I am grateful to have learnt it through this comment. This helped me more than any other write-daily-else-what-are-you-doing article.
This revelation has been no less of a paradigm shift for me. I can recall many instances where this mindset made me choose the wrong way.
But hey, this is life, after all. We learn from our mistakes. But what’s even better is to learn from others’ mistakes. That’s why here is a quick summary of what you can learn from this article (a tl;dr version):
Don’t confuse consistency with writing daily. Decide for yourself what your writing output is.
Adding value to the reader’s life should be your number one priority and not satisfying your own ego.
Don’t set a lofty goal that f**ks up the quality of your writing. This might lead you nowhere.
Don’t just believe any productivity p**n advice. Measure it on a long-term sustainability scale. If it appears impossible, then chances are it is.
I’m 16. That gives me the freedom to explore everything and decide if it works for me. On the flip side, it makes me naive enough to believe and not question everything I see or read online.
One lesson I can learn is to be flexible enough to accept new perspectives and not get permanently hooked on my own ideas or what I think is true.
That’s why from now on I will equally focus on the quality of my articles and try to bring something new to the table. If you are a writer, you should do the same. What your writing schedule is going to look like is totally your call. Just don’t force it onto yourself.
There is always room to learn something new. Or learn a more efficient way of doing the same chore. Small improvements do compound.
I will leave you with a request to ask yourself what you truly love: expressing yourself or forcing yourself to express yourself daily?
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It’s High Time We Leave This Mindset Behind and Sail On to Become a Better Writer was originally published in The Writing Cooperative on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.