My Learnings from Writing for a Year

My learnings from writing for a year and certain observations that could help you.

This post was originally published here

Last year, while getting by every day, I became more comfortable with writing, which felt forceful before. I had more time to read, think, and express my mind.

This was my time to seize the opportunity. But the journey has not always been so smooth, I'm still trying to figure things out. When I first started my Twitter account, It felt overwhelming. Writing on the internet seemed scary. It makes you ask questions, You’d not have answers to.

Why would my words matter? Why should I write? What should I write about?

But once I started to tweet, it all seemed to make sense. It all aligned with my interests and the things, I would want to explore. Learning in public helped me understand my voice and what I wanted to talk about.

“It’s scary, but the good thing about learning in public is that you get continuous feedback, which means you aren’t delusional about the quality of your work. Even in the case of the unfinished book, you probably want one or two people to read over the draft to make sure it’s not terrible.” - Ava

There was a time when I used to force myself into writing. But writing forcefully always ended up with writer's block. I had no solid ideas that connected the dots. And I was not even aware, why was I not able to write. Looking back I realized, I was not able to write because:

  1. I didn't write for myself.

  2. I didn't read enough.

  3. I didn't edit enough.

The joy of writing comes from being free. It is the curiosity to understand something, the attachment to that subject, the peace of sharing the passion, all of those wonderful things that are buried deep inside. But the joy is curbed when I put shackles around it. Word limit, deadlines, grades, or some type of metrics. As a result, I started to not write for myself, instead, I started to write for grades, publications, or some type of metrics. This made me detest writing.

This continued towards the later stages of life and writing became a really hard task that felt overwhelming.

Apart from writing for myself, I didn't read enough. When I was a kid, I loved reading storybooks, but after a while, I stopped reading altogether. And now after a long time, I’m reading again and it feels liberating.

“Don't lose the connection to the fun of learning.” - Woody Guthrie

When I was in school, we were not taught to edit, nor to value editing. As I grew older, I never edited any essay papers and assignments and it reflected in my writing. Then I found a very intriguing article on how to write and edit by Julian, which changed how I used to edit my writings.

Good writing indicates clarity of thought. A succinct and well-made point is better than ten mediocre ones. That's not to say lengthy writings are bad, but lengthy first drafts are always bad.

Editing is important because extra sucks. We all like clean and crisp action sequences because that's cool. The punches are there. Hemingway got paid a lot of money because he did not write one unnecessary word. On the other hand, Charles Dickens wrote so many words, because his income was tied to word count.

If I have 5 pages of important things to say, and I can say it in one. Then saying that in five is horrible.

But now many things have changed. I have started writing more. I discovered so many things about myself that I never thought I could If I had not started writing. Here are some observations:

Learnings from writing

It's hard to write the truth:

When you are trying to write about your life and personal experiences, It’s hard to write the truth. Oftentimes, the writers’ first book is semi-autobiographical. It shows an effort towards honest writing. You cannot write the complete truth, because it’s hard to write the truth. If your writing has novelty, then early drafts are likely to be, at best, rough approximations to the truth. Finding the  truth is the point of writing. You don’t find answers before writing. It comes to you after you start writing.

Good writing is good psychology:

Good writing comes from the ability to understand the relationship between the reader and the text. Good writers build up a theory of that relationship, the psychology of reading. The better a writer's psychology of reading, the better their writing. Good writing is an exercise in applied psychology.

Beware words that you wouldn't use while speaking:

Using such words in your writing isn't always a mistake, but it must be done consciously and for good reasons. I'm often tempted to use such words to appear authoritative, writing in what I imagine is expert language. Unfortunately, lacking practice with that language I'm likely to use it poorly unless I'm exceptionally careful. This desire to appear authoritative/verbose/sounding smart can easily become a self-serving agenda, not an agenda in service to the reader. With that said, if you're confident you're using the word in the reader's service, go for it!

The novelty of ideas:

This may be finding a new result, it may be digging out a narrative. The novelty of ideas comes to you when you start to engage with the blank paper. Writing helps to explore the unknown, basically novel ideas that could make you think much better.

Better note-taking can improve idea flow in writing:

Something I wish I'd understood earlier is how important it is to get good at note-taking. I spend a huge chunk of my time on the internet, exploring ideas and philosophy. Note-taking changes the way I approach writing. Now, I have a huge library through which I could back my writing.

The payoff of improving is that it makes writing far easier. The better your notes, the easier the writing will be.