If You Just Keep Writing, Will You Get Better?

Deliberate Practice

Will you get better as a writer? Author Barbara Baig discusses the idea of delib­er­ate practice from Anders Ericsson’s book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. She says:

When it comes to becom­ing better writers, most of us make three assump­tions:

  1. Each of us is born with a certain innate poten­tial for achieve­ment: We call it talent. Getting better at what we do is simply a matter of fulfilling that inborn ability.
  2. To get better at what we do, we just need to keep doing it.
  3. Improvement depends on how much effort we put in. If we’re not improv­ing, we’re just not trying hard enough.

These assump­tions are so common you might not even realize you hold them.

It is true that some people are really good at what they do, they seem to possess an innate great­ness, while others are seen to work hard to achieve success, with writing the question is wheth­er you grow as a writer simply by continu­ing to write, or is there something else needed in order to achieve great­ness?

Take a look at Barbara Baig’s atticle,  “If You Just Keep Writing, Will You Get Better?”


My own Lesson


SEO Wake me up when I am famous by by Alice Donovan Rouse CC0 PD from UnsplashI became inter­ested in cross country running at 11 years of age, during my first year of second­ary school. I have to be honest at that age I was the ‘only just made it’ runner on the second team (the school ran two 8 person teams). In other words I was the 16th and last member of the team. I enjoyed running and soon found that if I ran a lot, I would improve. Within 18 months I was leading the team, the fastest runner in the school (even better than the 15 or 16 year olds). I entered on a train­ing sched­ule that meant I went running every night of the week (other than compet­i­tion nights) over a 5 mile road course. I had three differ­ent courses, start­ing and ending from my house.

Can writing be like running?

When I was a young man I thought that if I wrote again and again I would improve. I found out one thing — I could simply write garbage faster than I did before. I discovered that writing better wasn’t simply a case of doing more of it, but a case of adopt­ing more skills. The first one for me was about learn­ing to spell and learn­ing how to use words more effect­ively.


Being More Effective


Sadly when I passed through the school­ing system in the United Kingdom, the gener­al quality of teach­ing was poor. I will admit that I didn’t know how to spell, yet I passed my GCSE English (efter sever­al attempts). In my 20s I discovered that if I was going to commu­nic­ate better I needed to learn how to use words more effect­ively. The first thing I did was pick up a diction­ary. The diction­ary helps in two ways, first with spelling and second with under­stand­ing the meaning of words.

These lessons and new habits set me along the path of better writing. It is through this practic­al approach that I leaned that there was more to writing than simply trying and trying again. It isn’t a case of “wake me up when I’m famous” there is always work to do to improve how you write. Even the maters of the craft will reiter­ate the same message.


Get Better

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  1. Improvement is also about learn­ing. You can write all day every day, but if you don’t read works from better skilled writers, work with editors who can offer advice on how to improve your writing, and contin­ue to listen and grow, you’ll stagnate.

  2. I can relate to the third point, “Improvement depends on how much effort we put in.” One needs to be passion­ate about its work if you want to excel as it is rightly said “Practice makes perfect”.

    • Thank you Sumit for your thoughts. We each have imper­fec­tions to work on, the trick is knowing what they are.

  3. I’ve written for many sites over the years and each one had their specif­ic rules to follow. I learned from moder­at­ors, teach­ers and fellow writers as I contin­ued along my writing path. I think new ]writers would be wise to listen to helpful advice.

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